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Patio Furniture: Types and Materials

Know What It's Made of Before You Buy


Not all patio furniture is created equal. Depending on your preference, you can buy new, used or vintage garden furniture in a wide range of materials, like rattan, wicker, cast iron, wrought iron, teak, ipe wood or synthetics. Is it important to choose furniture that is green and eco-friendly, possibly

Metal Lawn Chairs: Aka 'Motel' Chairs

Retro Metal Motel Tulip Glider Photo
Photo Courtesy of PriceGrabber
Those colorful steel lawn chairs that Grandmas sat on while they sipped beverages on the front porch are also known as "motel" chairs for their propensity to show up near pools or outside the front offices of Route 66 motels. Most of the originals were allowed to rust and corrode until it was time for them to be sent to lawn chair heaven. Guess what? They're back.

All-Weather or Resin Wicker

Pier 1 Luna Wicker Patio Chair
Photo Courtesy of Pier 1
If Grandma wasn't sitting on the front porch in a motel chair, she was most likely in a wicker chair. Too bad the relic wore out, because it would sure look cool on your front porch. Furniture manufacturers got smart and duplicated the old-style look with new materials, known as all-weather or resin wicker.

Cast Iron Garden Furniture

© Library of Congress
These heavy pieces of iron furniture can be seen in formal garden settings, like The White House. Early pieces of cast iron garden furniture were designed in the rococo style. Learn the history of cast iron furniture.

Pictured: a cast iron dining set on a porch of The White House.

Wrought Iron Furniture

Vintage Black Wrought Iron Outdoor Patio Dining Set
© Lisa Hallett Taylor
Wrought iron is lighter than cast iron, and can be manipulated, bent and welded more easily than its cast cousin. It's been made since the 19th century -- find out why it's still popular.

Furniture Brands

Who's who and who makes what in the world of casual furniture. Check out that comprehensive list.

What is Ipe Wood?

all modern ipe
Photo courtesy of PriceGrabber
Ipe is a Brazilian hardwood that is surpassing teak as an outdoor furniture material. It looks good, is relatively easy to maintain, and is FSC certified.

What is Marine-Grade Plywood?

Marine-grade plywood has a coating that enables it to withstand harsh elements. It's often used in boat construction, but can also be used for decks, fences and furniture.

What is Shorea Wood?

Oxford Garden Classic End Table in Shorea Wood
Photo Courtesy of Oxford Garden
Shorea is a hardwood that resembles teak or ipe in both looks and attributes. Find out why its a popular choice for outdoor applications and products.

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