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Outdoor Furniture

Furnishing your outdoor living space with attractive and comfortable furniture will add immeasurably to the enjoyment you get from your home. Whether you have a small apartment balcony or a large deck or patio, there is a wide variety of furniture you can purchase. First you need to determine what type of furniture you want: lounge chairs, table and chairs, arm chair and ottoman, etc. Measure your outdoor floor space to make sure you can accommodate all the pieces you want. Then consider what material the furniture is made from:

  • Aluminum is the most popular choice for outdoor furniture. Most aluminum frames are manufactured from hollow tubing, but cast aluminum is also available. The advantage of aluminum is that it is rust resistant, and it is made in a wide variety of styles from very casual to elegantly formal. Tubular aluminum will dent over time. Cast aluminum is more durable, but it is also more expensive.
  • Outdoor furniture has been made from wrought iron since the 19th century, so if you are aiming for a traditional look, it is a good choice. Although less expensive than aluminum, wrought iron is heavier to move around, and it will rust if the surface paint is chipped -- so try to purchase pieces with more than a single coat of paint.
  • Outdoor furniture is also available in a variety of woods. Redwood and cedar are weather resistant and less expensive than teak, which is the most durable and long lasting. You can prolong the life of redwood and cedar by treating it with a sealant or wood preservative. Teak can be left unfinished to weather to a pleasing silver grey or oiled so that retains its natural brown color. Outdoor furniture made from other hardwoods, such as oak, is also available.
  • If you are on a budget, you may want to consider buying vinyl outdoor furniture. Most of these plastic pieces will not last more than a few years, and some are so lightweight that you will have to be careful that they don’t blow away in the wind. Vinyl furniture is very easy to keep clean.
  • Recently more durable plastic furniture has come on the market, and some of it is quite stylish, although it is more expensive than vinyl. New synthetic polymers are extremely weather resistant and will not deteriorate from exposure to ultraviolet light. Polywood furniture is made from recycled plastic containers, so it is a fashionable “green” choice. Some of it is made to resemble teak. Most synthetic plastic needs virtually no maintenance and will last for years.
  • If you are looking for upholstered outdoor furniture or want cushions and pillows, you will need to choose models made with water, sun, and dirt resistant fabrics. These fabrics are made by a variety of specialized manufacturers who use acrylics or polyesters treated with Teflon or vinyl to create fabrics that dry quickly after the rain and will not fade in the sun. These fabrics come in a wide variety of patterns and colors.

All outdoor furniture will last longer if it is given some protection during time when it is not being used. It can be stored indoors or placed under the cover of a roof. Heavy duty furniture covers are also available for those who wish to leave the furniture out all year.

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