Looking for quality outdoor furniture? Here are the things to consider.
If you’re looking to buy quality outdoor furniture, you want it to stand the test of time. Australia is renowned for its harsh climate and unpredictable weather conditions. So, knowing how to spot quality outdoor furniture is vital.
It’s no surprise that quality outdoor furniture is made well and of quality components. But what are the vital signs that indicate your outdoor furniture is built to last?
Here we reveal the three key factors to help build your outdoor furniture shortlist and to be certain you choose pieces that are fit for purpose.
What do I look for when shopping for quality outdoor furniture?
The hallmarks of superior outdoor furniture are indicated by the quality of the frame, fabric and foam used in the construction of the furniture piece. Plus, the careful assembly of the furniture item.
Outdoor furniture is made from a vast array of components, so it is vital to ask yourself these three important questions:
1. Frame: what is the frame made of?
2. Fabric: what kind of upholstery is used?
3. Foam: what kind of seating foam is used?
1. CHOOSE A QUALITY FRAME
What is the longest lasting outdoor furniture frame?
For outdoor furniture to last season after season, opt for frames constructed of durable materials like hardwoods such as teak, metal frames such as powder coated aluminium, or synthetic blends such as alu-rattan and poly-rattan.
“Learn how to identify quality materials and the functionality of components to ensure your new outdoor furniture is built to last,” explains DOMO style guru and showroom manager, Tamara King. Here Tamara outlines the very best materials for outdoor furniture frames.
Teak outdoor furniture frames
Known for its beauty and hardiness, teak timber is exceptionally weather resistant and ideal for outdoor furniture. “Designers adore the resilience of teak wood as it ages and silvers naturally with minimal maintenance,” explains Tamara.
With teak outdoor furniture, the key decision you need to make is whether you allow the beautiful grey patina to show, or whether you fight keep the teak’s caramel tone. To keep the caramel tone, it’s important to maintain teak quarterly and coat it with teak oil, to prevent the grey oxidation occurring.
“Although rain and damp conditions mean your teak’s patina oxidises, rest assured the timber itself will remain intact for many years to come,” she says. As a result, quality teak furniture works particularly well in wet climates, in waterfront and seaside locations.
Alu-teak outdoor furniture
If you like the look of teak, but don’t want to spend time maintaining its finish, maintenance free alu-teak might be for you.
“Alu-teak outdoor furniture frames are crafted from aluminium, then coated with a teak effect powder coated finish. Quality alu-teak products look like authentic teak wood, but they are weather resistant and don’t require any oiling,” Tamara explains.
Keep in mind, not all alu-teak frames are created equal – the texture, colour and powder coat application techniques will separate the poor from the quality outdoor furniture frames.
Powder coated aluminium furniture
Many of us like to leave our outdoor furniture exposed to the elements and accessible all year round. Aluminium outdoor furniture is great for this, as it is hardwearing, lightweight and easy to move around. Once powder coating is applied to the furniture it becomes even more durable and requires next to no maintenance to keep rust at bay.
“To prevent rust from getting into your outdoor furniture, go for powder coated aluminium frames. Powder coating is an all over-coating for your aluminium furniture so no raw edges are exposed to the elements and no rust will get in,” reveals Tamara.
“Dependant on the quality of the powder coating application and the correct maintenance, they offer high weather resistance and will stand decades of outdoor exposure,” she says.
Keep in mind that if your aluminium furniture isn’t powder coated, any surface scratches allow rust to form and weaken your furniture. When an aluminium surface is powder coated, the result is a uniformly covered surface with resistance against marking and scratching.
“Avoiding screws in your aluminium furniture frame is a good idea as these may allow moisture to slowly seep in and rust may develop,” Tamara explains. As a rule of thumb, powder coated aluminium outdoor furniture works well in alfresco, terrace, balcony and garden outdoor areas.
Synthetic rattan outdoor furniture
Rattan outdoor furniture has a timeless appeal. While natural rattan and cane furniture cannot endure weather exposure all year round, synthetic rattan furniture easily can.
Also known as alu-rattan, poly-rattan or synthetic rattan, this technically advanced product is very durable. When bought from a quality manufacturer, synthetic rattan furniture can withstand continuous exposure to the weather.
Eminent manufacturers, like Denmark’s Sika Design, specialise in creating synthetic rattan furniture with the look of natural rattan, but with the durability and strength of aluminium and poly-fibre. Many of the frames are meticulously painted, so it is difficult to tell the difference upon first sight.
Due to the weather resistant materials used, technically advanced ‘rattan-effect’ outdoor furniture suits garden, poolside, seaside, sun deck location and full weather exposure.
Learn how to care for outdoor poly-rattan furniture – read our care guide here.
2. CHOOSE QUALITY FABRIC
How to spot quality outdoor furniture fabric
Not all outdoor furniture fabrics are created equal. There are a few leading upholstery brands that assure worry-free, quality, durable coverings that withstand the test of time and fluctuating weather conditions.
Sunbrella textiles is a family-owned company which specialises in the manufacture and technology behind hard-wearing outdoor fabrics. Sunbrella is the name of their leading, solution-dyed, acrylic fabric. This synthetic upholstery has been around since the 1940s and is ideal for prolonged outdoor use. It is fade resistant, water resistant, mildew resistant, comfortable, cool, durable and stylish. Brands such as Kun Design use this fabric.
Trekatex textiles specialises in high quality outdoor fabrics. Sunproof Olefin, produced by Trekatex, is a polypropylene fibre developed in 1957. It is derived from an upcycled gas called propylene and is processed and woven in to a yarn. Olefin is less expensive than Sunbrella, but it still boasts comfort, water resistance, durable, colourfast, versatile, resistant to mildew and insects. Brands such as DOMO Home, use this upholstery.
Tempotext is an Italian performance fabric manufacturer whose products are made with an innovative Teflon finish. They are water repellent, oil repellent, resistant to stains, mould, mildew and UV fading. Brands like Denmark’s Sika Design use this kind of upholstery.
Overall, whether you go for Sunbrella, Trekatex or Tempotext upholstery, rest assured all are easy to clean and maintain and will provide superior textile performance from years of sun, rain, wear and tear.
3. CHOOSE QUALITY SEAT FOAM
Quality outdoor furniture seat foam
Quality seating foam is essential if you want to sit comfortably on your outdoor furniture for years to come. The kind of foam best for outdoor seating is quick dry foam as it is especially designed for outdoor seating and cushions.
Quick dry foam is a less porous foam that allows rain, water and spillages to quickly pass through, should the seat cushion become wet. It allows for liquids to rapidly drain and for air to circulate through the cushion with efficiency. “High quality foams will feel comfortable, supportive and firm (not squishy). The firmness assists with drainage,” says Tamara.
Is woven rope durable enough for outdoor furniture use?
Yes! When searching for quality outdoor furniture, woven polyester rope is a robust choice for dining chairs, armchairs, and sofas. Synthetic woven rope is remarkable in outdoor settings as it is hardy and requires little maintenance. It can endure extreme weather, UV sunlight exposure, mould, mildew, high and low temperatures.
“While natural rope looks good unfortunately it doesn’t have the longevity of synthetic rope when left in exposed weather conditions,” Tamara adds. Outdoor furniture constructed from natural rope will wear in the elements, weaken in consistent direct sunlight and moisture, and will show signs of deterioration sooner.
Know the microclimate of your outdoor living space
Consider the micro-climate of your outdoor space before buying outdoor furniture.
Is it open to the elements garden? Or a partially covered veranda? Will your outdoor furniture be exposed to harsh summer sun? Do you have a northerly aspect? Will your furniture be exposed to the rain and the elements all year round? Do you live in a coastal location near salt water, as oxidation of metal may occur.
Answer these questions and you will know how to spot quality outdoor furniture – and – which furniture fabrication to go for. Ask your DOMO sales consultant to assist you with the best quality outdoor furniture for your location.