Humble plastic is suddenly a high-end option for outdoor furniture

Materials and grades matter when choosing chairs and lounges to stand up to the sun, wind and sand

Plastic furniture has come a long way, and today is a high-end option for outdoor decor. Photo: Courtesy
Plastic furniture has come a long way, and today is a high-end option for outdoor decor. Photo: Courtesy

Two years ago, I would not have considered plastic for a high-end home. What changed?

Up until the past few years, plastic furniture was considered the low-cost, low-design option for outdoor frames. The color choice was limited to white, gray or beige.

Today we are seeing not only a plethora of colors but also a lot more decorative style. One of our suppliers offers beautiful pieces that are comfortable, stylish and colorful. The items are fade-resistant and are incredibly durable for this climate. Easy to clean and resistant to fading, they are the supplier I chose for outdoor furniture for a new high-end show suite we are furnishing in Mexico.

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The most common materials used to make the frames of outdoor furniture are plastic, metal, wood and synthetic weave.

We are also seeing some furniture frames coming on to the market that are made from concrete. Since the cost to transport concrete furniture is more expensive, most people do not consider this a top option. So let’s focus on the most popular frame types.

After plastic, option two is metal: stainless steel, wrought iron or aluminum. All three are all-weather materials. For a windy area, the stainless steel and wrought iron are less likely to slide.

Generally, metal frames are covered in a powder-coated paint. This makes them more resistant to fading, water and ultimately, rust. Just like plastic frames, metal does not need much maintenance. Metal costs more than plastic. If the furniture rocks or tilts, or is a high-end design, it can be pricey.

Option three is a synthetic weave. It is critical to know the difference between the low grades and the high grades or you could end up paying a lot of money for furniture that will split and crack very quickly.

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Most of the synthetic weave in department stores and big-box stores are made in China from the lowest grade resin. When buying synthetic weave, go to a knowledgeable retailer. The right weave should last approximately seven to 10 years in high sun and salt-air environments.

The final option is wood. Teak is and has been considered one of the most attractive options for outdoor. Teak, an all-weather material, is resistant to termites, water and wind. It will not fade or rust. Teak does require maintenance. There is a specific teak oil that needs to be applied about every three months. It is not a difficult job, but one that needs to be done regularly.

Sheryl Novak is an expat from Canada whose furniture store, SOLutions Mexico, serves all of Mexico. For a catalog of outdoor furniture and prices, contact sa.novak@solutionsmexico.com.

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