How to Choose the Best Material for Outdoor Furniture

Which outdoor furniture material is best for your space? What's the difference between wicker vs metal outdoor furniture? What exactly is poly furniture? We're here to answer all your questions about patio furniture materials. Scroll down to learn about the best materials for outdoor furniture. We'll also cover how to care for each material type to ensure your outdoor furniture lasts for years to come!

Best outdoor furniture materials infographic


Wicker outdoor furniture material was traditionally made of plant-based materials, like willow or rattan. Today, most patio furniture is made of all-weather wicker. This man-made material is made to look like natural wicker, but offers much higher durability.

  • Wicker is the method of weaving, not the material used
  • All-weather wicker looks great and is a great option for durability
  • Wicker is woven over a metal frame for strength and stability

Maintenance: Don't use bleach or abrasive materials. Wash with solution of mild soap and warm water, rinsing thoroughly. Storing inside during winter months will extend the life of the product.


Metal outdoor furniture is known for its impressive durability. It's worth the investment if you're looking for long-lasting patio furniture. Keep in mind that metal furniture is very heavy, so you may want to opt for in-home delivery.

  • Aluminum outdoor furniture material is strong, stylish and naturally rust-resistant
  • Steel is less expensive, but can rust if the finish is damaged
  • A powder-coated finish is preferable and lasts longer than paint

Maintenance: If steel is scratched and bare metal exposed, lightly sand with extra-fine sandpaper, treat with rust inhibitor and apply touch-up paint. Use furniture covers or store inside during winter months.

Poly and plastic lumber

Poly furniture is a fantastic choice for outdoor furniture and is commonly found in our Adirondack chairs. Made from recycled plastics, poly lumber is an eco-friendly option that won't warp, fade, or deteriorate. It's also very easy to clean and weather resistant!

  • Made from recycled plastic, also known as HDPE, that is recovered from milk jugs and detergent bottles
  • Won't fade, warp, rot or deteriorate
  • Exceptional weather resistance
  • No staining, sealing, sanding or painting is needed

Maintenance: Use a soft bristle brush to dislodge dirt. Periodically tighten fasteners, if necessary. Wash with solution of mild soap and warm water, rinising thoroughly. Bleach solution can also be used.


Iron outdoor furniture is a high-quality choice for any space. It's heavy, durable, and very versatile. Although iron furniture is more susceptible to rust, it will last for many, many years with the proper care.

  • Classic style, upscale appearance and superior strength
  • Stable, solid and strudy
  • Hefty and heavy, it won't be blown by wind, but it is more difficult to relocate
  • More expensive than other outdoor items

Maintenance: Do not leave in standing water. Iron furniture is particularly susceptible to rust, so seasonal touch-ups are needed to fix scratches and chips before they rust. Use extra-fine sandpaper, rust inhibitor and touch-up paint. Wash with solution of mild soap and warm water, rinsing and drying thoroughly.

Outdoor fabric

Upholstered outdoor furniture material can refer to many fabrics. Sunbrella is one common patio furniture upholstery. It offers a fade resistant, UV-blocking, easy-to-clean option for outdoor furniture.

  • 100% solution-dyed acrylic is the best option for outdoor furniture material: Look for A-grade Sunbrella or Outdoor fabrics
  • This type of solution-dyed upholstery fades less, is easier to clean and even tolerates bleach
  • Combines the comfort of indoor fabrics with the durability needed for outside applications

Maintenance: Blot liquid spills with a clean cloth. Wash as needed with solution of mild soap and warm water, rinsing thoroughly and allowing it to dry fully in the sun. For 100% solution-dyed acrylic, a mix of 1 cup bleach, 1/4 cup mild soap and 1 gallon water may also be used.

Shop outdoor furniture covers to protect your investment.