Outdoor furniture has to be strong enough to face the elements. Let’s look at the best material for outdoor furniture, which makes it durable and weatherproof.
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A bright and sunny day is best enjoyed outside on the deck or patio. And what better way than lounging on your patio furniture to take in the sunshine?
But that same sunshine can sometimes be harmful to certain types of furniture. And outdoor furniture has to also contend with rain, wind, dust, and all kinds of vagaries of weather.
That is why, apart from having all the characteristics of good quality furniture that is comfort, style, and longevity, outdoor furniture also has to sustain the harsh weather conditions.
While buying outdoor furniture, you need to look at the best materials for outdoor furniture that can sustain any weather condition. There are no hundred percent weatherproof materials, but some materials have better resistance than others.
Before selecting a material for your weatherproof outdoor furniture, you will need to ponder upon several factors and your preferences.
This article will discuss essential factors while looking for the best material for outdoor furniture.
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What Makes Something The Best Material For Outdoor Furniture?
Outdoor furniture has to face harsh weather conditions and has to maintain its integrity over several seasons. You need to consider certain factors before determining which material you are going with for your outdoor furniture.
#1 Exposure To Moisture
Some areas receive higher than average rainfall or are highly humid. If you live in such a place, water and moisture can damage your outdoor furniture if you are not careful with the type of material you choose. You would need waterproof outdoor furniture. The side effect of moisture are:
Outdoor furniture with metals like aluminum and iron is prone to corrosion. If the furniture is exposed to oxygen and water, it will oxidize, and that will result in discoloration and rust.
Areas near an ocean have salt in the water and air, which speeds up the process of corrosion and rust.
Rotting and Decaying
When exposed to water constantly, wooden furniture can develop mold and mildew, which you can easily clean. However, if the furniture stays in a humid climate continuously, it can lead to rotting and decaying of wooden material, which permanently damages the furniture.
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Materials that soak up water expand and shrink back after drying. It can lead to warping the material, which is the change in the actual shape of the furniture. It won’t be noticeable initially, but after some time, you can see the effect as the seams will misalign, and fasteners used to hold the furniture together might loosen.
#2 Weather And Temperature
Sunlight and harsh weather also tend to damage outdoor furniture, such as:
Some of the materials are prone to expanding and shrinking while heating and cooling down. A repeat of this process may lead to cracking or bending of furniture material. Constant fluctuations can also make the material brittle over time and thus decreases the longevity of the furniture.
Continuous exposure to sunlight leads to the fading of furniture. Furniture can lose its beautiful color and appeal over time if not correctly cared for and left in the sun without any protection.
Outdoor furniture is out in the sun and can heat up in warm temperatures. When you try to sit on it, you can get burns. Try using some sort of upholstery instead of just metal or wood.
Wind doesn’t really harm outdoor furniture directly. But if your region has high-speed winds, make sure that the furniture is heavy enough that they don’t tip over. If you have lightweight furniture for outdoors, you need to ensure that it is secured to the ground.
#4 Environment Friendly
It is better to choose outdoor furniture materials that are biodegradable and eco-friendly. However, the reusability or renewability of outdoor furniture varies drastically from inside furniture.
The durability of the materials is another critical factor. Since outdoor furniture must face extreme weather conditions and sunlight, choosing solid and durable materials is vital. Some materials fade and get damaged over time and need replacement every few years, while others maintain their luster and strength even after a few decades.
Some materials need little to no care and cleaning them is very simple with just soap and water. At the same time, others require specific treatment every season to maintain their shine and durability. If you do not wish to spend your time cleaning or caring for your furniture, you may want to opt for furniture that is easy to maintain.
One of the most important factors while buying anything is the price. You would need to find furniture under your price limit. But, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind, some materials might be more expensive than others, but they are worth the investment as they will last you for half a century. At the same time, others may cost low but will require replacement every few years.
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What Is The Best Material For Outdoor Furniture
Below are some of the best material options for outdoor furniture:
Wood has been the top choice of material in building furniture since the old ages. The wooden furniture has a natural appearance which enhances its beauty. The wooden material is solid and convenient to make furniture with. With that being said, know that not all the woods are equal and have equal strength.
There are two different kinds of woods- softwood and hardwood. Softwoods like fir, cedar, and pine are cheap and used in abundance in creating indoor furniture. But for outdoor furniture, they don’t hold up well and would need protection from water and sun.
On the other hand, the best patio furniture built with hardwoods is strong and holds up well against harsh weather. If you took their proper care, they could last for decades. However, they are costly and challenging to work with. Manufacturers use a variety of hardwoods in the making of outdoor furniture, such as:
Teak wood is the most commonly used fine-grain hardwood for outdoor furniture. It has a very high demand in the furniture market, and the availability is limited, which leads to a very high price.
Teak is an exceptionally strong hardwood and is resistant to water which means it doesn’t shrink or expand when coming into contact with water. It leads to a crack and warp-free wood which doesn’t get brittle and is perfect for making outdoor furniture.
Teak is highly resistant to insects, rotting or decaying because of its elevated natural oil content. It makes the teak wood highly durable, and the furniture made from teak can last up to fifty years.
Teak furniture has a beautiful brown color which you can maintain with oiling, and even if you leave it untreated, the color develops into a lovely shade of silver-gray. Almost all the top furniture brands feature some pieces of this wood. Caring for this wood is pretty easy, and you can clean it using any mild soap with some water.
Another popular hardwood choice is Shorea which is from southeast Asia. It is one of the very few hardwoods which are heavy and more robust than teakwood. One of the great things about Shorea is that it becomes even more strong and flexible when it is exposed to heat. It is a highly sustainable hardwood because harvesting it is regulated to maintain its supply.
Shorea is also resistant to weather, insects, and decaying or rotting because of its high oil content. You can treat it with oil to maintain its natural reddish-gold color or leave it untreated, resulting in a beautiful grey silver color over time.
This hardwood also has a long life and can last for fifty years like teak with the additional benefit of being cheaper than teakwood. The only issue is the scarce availability of Shorea because many retailers being unfamiliar with it.
White oak is available in abundance and is a strong hardwood. Manufacturers have used white oak for years to build boats due to its characteristic of repelling water. Its water resistance also protects the furniture from rotting and decaying, making it an excellent material for outdoor furniture.
The outdoor furniture built from this wood will last for decades if you take proper care of it. However, this wood doesn’t have much natural oil content, and you would need to apply a coat of sealant or paint to increase the longevity of the furniture.
Eucalyptus is an Australian evergreen tree that grows faster than most of the other hardwoods. It doesn’t come cheap but sure costs less than teakwood.
Eucalyptus has a beautiful washed appearance, making the furniture more appealing, and if you leave it untreated, the color will develop into silver. It is resistant to weather and doesn’t rot or decay easily.
The natural oil content in this wood acts as an insect repellent. However, I recommend that you use a sealant or paint on top of this wood to increase its life and protect it from water.
Ipe or ironwood is commonly found in south and central America. The ipe hardwood is rich in color and tends to fade slower than other hardwoods.
Ipe has higher natural oil content, which makes it resistant to decaying, rotting, and insects. Its dense and complex structure makes it less prone to damage. Ipe doesn’t crack or warp easily, which makes it an excellent material for outdoor furniture. If appropriately treated, ipe furniture can last up to forty years. However, making furniture from ipe wood is tricky as you would need a lot of preparation while cutting and gluing the wood.
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Metal is one of the most popular and the most common materials used for making furniture. Metal is a long-lasting and durable piece of material that is suitable for making outdoor furniture. For outdoor furniture, cast iron, stainless steel, wrought iron is generally used. Let’s read further to know about different types of metal suitable for furniture.
Cast aluminum is an excellent material for outdoor furniture. Outdoor aluminum furniture is lightweight and long-lasting as they are hollow and can be moved easily. Quality and durability are two factors that help in making the furniture strong. Cast aluminum works great and also looks great.
Benefits Of Using Cast Aluminum
- It is a lightweight metal that is suitable for outdoor furniture.
- It has a long life and can be repaired by welding.
- Cast aluminum is corrosion-resistant and has a lot of strength.
- Aluminum is one of the most versatile materials. Thus, there are a lot of options to choose from.
- It does not require much care and is convenient to maintain.
- It is durable and rust-resistant; thus can withstand diverse weather conditions. Therefore, you can say it is weatherproof outdoor furniture.
- The metal is first melted and then given shapes of different furniture; thus, the shape stays as it is for a very long duration.
Stainless steel is another common material used for making outdoor furniture. Its appearance, corrosion resistance, and workability make it so popular. Though it is a metal, it does not easily rust as it has a good amount of chromium that makes it tough enough to resist rust. It is present more than 12 percent, which is minimal, making this material ideal for outdoor furniture. This metal requires some maintenance that makes it stay as it is for a long time without any wear and tear. For outdoor use, 304 stainless steel metal is used so that it does not rust easily.
Benefits of using stainless steel
- It is heavy and robust and ideal for outdoor furniture.
- This material is both corrosion as well as scratch-resistant.
- It is convenient to maintain and clean this metal using a cloth.
- Most used stainless steel is of 304 grade due to its strong mechanical and chemical properties.
Wrought iron is a durable material for outdoor furniture. Its strength makes it highly long-lasting, and this material is difficult to damage. The strength and durability make this metal the best for patio furniture. Wrought iron has been used since historical times as it is one of the heaviest metals. When selecting patio furniture, wrought iron is the most reliable as it can be molded into any shape, size, and design, making the furniture highly attractive.
Benefits of using Wrought Iron
- It is one of the best materials to invest in as it is durable.
- Though it is a costlier metal, it is cheaper if you compare it to aluminum and teak.
- Wrought iron furniture is always there as it never goes out of fashion.
- The material has great sturdiness; thus, it is capable of withstanding heavyweight.
- Wrought iron is available in different designs and styles as it is highly versatile.
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#3 Other Hardwoods
Redwood is one of the most common hardwoods which is used for outdoor furniture. It has strong resistance to heat, insects, and moisture. It is one of the best furniture materials to invest in as it stays strong till almost 30 years. Redwood has the capability of withstanding extreme temperatures and thus, is ideal for outdoor furniture. One thing to remember is that redwood grows slowly, and it is costly compared to other woods.
Benefits of using redwood
- The red color of the wood helps make outstanding pieces of furniture that are eye-catching.
- It is highly durable and has termite and moisture resistant properties; thus, it is an excellent option for patio furniture.
- The final product is smooth and attractive; thus, it makes the best material for making chairs, tables, benches, all for outdoor use.
One of the strongest hardwoods available for outdoor furniture is Acacia. The wood has resistance to insects and rotting. These are the most challenging factors in selecting wood as outdoor furniture material. Did you know Acacia is one of the fastest-growing hardwoods? Thus, you won’t be harming the environment when using this material for furniture. Note as it can absorb moisture, do not keep it on the grass directly.
Benefits of using Acacia
- Acacia is one of the best waterproof materials for outdoor furniture due to its high water resistance.
- It is affordable when compared to teak and other woods.
- This material is durable and long-lasting.
- It is scratch and heat-resistant.
- You can choose amongst various designs as Acacia can have different grain patterns as per the condition it is grown in.
Cypress is a wood that is found with plenty of grain options. It can be different colors starting from yellow, light brown, dark brown, and reddish-brown. Thus, using Cypress can be an excellent opinion for outdoor furniture. The wood is soft but has screw-holding properties that make it a perfect outdoor weatherproof option.
- It is a weather-resistant material that makes it ideal for outdoor furniture.
- This wood is lightweight and portable.
- With rot-resistance, it also has insect-resistance properties.
- Different color options and grain patterns make this wood one of the best materials for patio furniture.
#4 Resin And Plastic
Plastic is one of the most budget-friendly material options to go for. It is convenient to handle, as it is light in weight and inexpensive. You don’t need to maintain plastic furniture much, and if you clean it regularly, it remains as it is. Plastic is strong enough to withstand heat and rain; thus, it is one of the best outdoor furniture.
Benefits of using plastic
- Plastic has weather-resistant properties and is available in different colors and designs.
- A High-density version of polyethylene is best for outdoor use as it is waterproof and heat-resistant.
- Plastic does not fade easily. Thus it maintains its look for a long time.
- Lightweight; thus, it is highly portable too. Changing the setting of the garden is possible now and then.
On the other hand, synthetic resin is becoming very popular nowadays as it is weather-resistant and long-lasting than plastic. Resin wicker is a synthetic fiber that makes furniture look eye-catchy. It requires low maintenance and is convenient to clean. Its hand-woven design makes it robust, durable, and does not fade when exposed to the sun.
Benefits of resin
- It can withstand extreme weather for a long time.
- Synthetic resin is very popular as it requires low maintenance.
- Various design options are available to make your patio look attractive.
- Traditional wicker resin furniture is the best outdoor furniture option available for giving their garden a conventional look.
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#5 Other Materials
Concrete is one of the best contemporary materials that are perfect for outdoor furniture. The material blends well with teak and wicker furniture as well. If you love modern furniture, including concrete in your patio can be a great option. Concrete has lots of strength and durability, and it is also very attractive. It will help you enhance the look of your patio. Thus, it is the best option to go for when planning to buy outdoor furniture.
Benefits of Concrete
- One of the demands for concrete furniture is its low cost.
- When compared to other furniture materials, concrete material requires low maintenance.
- You can get the furniture designed on your own. Thus it can be custom made.
- Different color options and designs are available to make your patio look attractive.
Tempered glass is a more substantial piece of material that is perfect for outdoor furniture. It can withstand hot and cold weather conditions. It is commonly used as coffee tables and small dining tables on the patio. As the glass is thicker, it does not chip or cracks easily. It can withstand both cold and hot climates. The only thing to keep in mind is not to use it for places that experience extreme temperatures.
Benefits of Tempered glass
- Tempered glass is durable as it is made with an 1100 degree furnace.
- The glass is capable of withstanding small amounts of hail and snow.
- It is a safe and long-lasting material and is best for outdoor furniture.
- There are a variety of designs and shapes for you to choose from.
HPL- High-Pressure Laminate
High-pressure laminate is one of the most durable materials for outdoor furniture. HPL is a type of phenolic resin made using multiple layers of craft paper, which is pressed together using heat. It is commonly used for countertops, shelves, tabletops, benchtops. High-pressure laminate makes a good option for making tabletops and benchtops as it has water-resistant properties that make it strong.
Benefits of using High-pressure laminates
- The HPL material is chosen for outdoor furnishing due to its antibacterial properties.
- It can withstand cold and hot temperatures.
- This material is both heat and abrasion-resistant.
- The material is durable and long-lasting.
- It is popularly used as a decorative surface, and you get plenty of design options.
Best Materials For Outdoor Upholstery And Others
Outdoor furniture is widely exposed to a variety of elements. The material we pick for the same should be able to handle this exposure. The material must be resistant to different climate issues and should retain the color. The major part of any furniture is foam and the fabric of the furniture used. Every material of outdoor upholstery has its benefits and drawbacks that are discussed below.
#1 Foam Material
Pillows and cushions are a significant part of outdoor furniture. These may be exposed to sleet or rains over time. Though they have weather-resistant covers, water may go inside them and spoil the furniture. So, the upholstery foam must hold the comfort level, shape, and dry quickly, thus avoiding the damage from moisture. We come across many foam varieties based on their production techniques, material, treatment, and cost. Out of the available options, some are discussed below:
- Open Cell foam
Foam is known as open-cell when half or more than half of the foam cells are open. Some of the open-cell foams operate like a spring, and they return to their shape after compression. Open-cell foams are considered the best as they are flexible. As the name indicates, this foam has open pores, which will allow air and water to flow through them quickly. This foam is made with an antimicrobial agent, which will protect the foam from mold growth that may occur in the drying process.
Some open-cell materials are open-cell rubber, polyurethane foam, and reticulated foam. The open-cell foam makes a relaxed and comfortable seating for mattresses or cushions. But open-foam materials are considered expensive compared with other alternatives.
One of the best open-cell foam is dry fast. When you pair this foam with suitable fabric, it works as a maintenance-free cushion working best as outdoor upholstery. If you are looking to check if your present foam is dry fast or not, you can check it by pouring a cup of water onto it, which will drain out from the bottom.
- Closed Cell Foam
Foam is known as closed-cell when the cells are enclosed by its walls and do not connect or interconnect with other cells. Closed-cell foam will repel water as the name indicates, remain closed, and repel water, thus staying buoyant. This foam is made with different plastics like polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene, and neoprene. The characteristics of each closed foam vary from the other one.
Closed-cell foam will keep the upholstery used outdoor or in cockpits or ships moisture-free when there are regular showers as they don’t absorb water. It will enable you to use any fabric on this foam. It works best for that furniture that is used in boats and ships.
Some sheets of closed-cell foam material are glued to the bottom of another foam, which will add support to any cushion serving as a spring. Some closed-cell materials are neoprene, PVC, EPDM foams. Even closed-foam materials are considered expensive.
- Polyurethane Foam
Polyurethane foam serves as the best choice for outdoor furniture. It has an antimicrobial feature that will soak water when the furniture gets wet. It will also keep the mildew and mold away as the foam dries out. Even then, the foam should be wrapped with a waterproofing layer when used for outdoor furniture.
The polyurethane foam works best for boat seats. This foam is resistant to biological issues and also comes at a reasonable price.
- PET Foam
These foams serve as good support, are durable and recyclable outdoor upholstery. They don’t lose their structure or flatten out when you use them for a long time. Also, when this foam gets wet, it will dry quickly and do not build moisture to avoid mold and mildew. This foam is the best eco-friendly option for outdoor furniture materials.
- Polyester foam
This foam can be explained as blown polyester fiber. You can see this foam stuffed in a sewn cover and covered over with a piece of fabric. The foam suits outdoor furniture, but it will compress over usage and may lose shape fast. The polyester foamed furniture is machine washable, dries quickly, and is resistant to mold and mildew. But after laundry, the foam may bunch up, which can be smoothened to restore the shape. You can also consider it as a drawback for polyester foam.
This foam makes the top outdoor furniture material option for those looking for an inexpensive and low-cost alternative.
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Any outdoor furniture like pillows, cushions, or slings will require the fabric to cover the foam-filled inside them. The fabric must be resistant enough to any weather condition that they are exposed to. But natural fibers lose their vibrancy and will break over time. So, synthetic fibers infused with plastic serve as the best options for upholstery covers for outdoor furniture. These handle any climatic issues and retain their color for a longer time. Some of the best fabric options for materials for Outdoor Furniture are discussed below.
- Polyester Fabric
Polyester fabric is strong, resistant to stains, water damage, and flexible. This fabric is resistant to tears and will dry faster when compared with other materials. You can coat the polyester fabric with vinyl or acrylic to give added protection.
Though you can get bright colors or new patterns on these polyester fabrics, it won’t last long as it is exposed to UV rays when used as outdoor furniture.
- Acrylic Fabric
Acrylic fabrics threads are dyed before they are woven. They last longer and retain color even after getting exposed to UV rays. This fabric is the best for outdoor furniture as they are resistant to damage, weather ((mildew and mold), and strong. Though it is water-resistant, this fabric stays cooler in hot or warm weather as it is breathable. They can also stay and hold up against tearing and rubbing.
It is easy to maintain acrylic fabric furniture as you can clean it with water and mild soap. If you stay in a rainy or wet area, outdoor furniture with acrylic fabric is the best to wick the moisture away quickly.
- Olefin Fabric
This fabric is another example of fade-resistant, quick-drying and durable fabric. It can hold heat, moisture, and mold and keep the furniture long-lasting. It can keep abrasions and stains away and is an easy maintenance option though olefin fabric is smooth. Lightweight, it is not soft like other fabrics. It is easy to clean the olefin fabric even by using household bleach. This olefin fabric is the most cost-effective and affordable fabric material for outdoor furniture.
- Textilene fabric
This fabric comes out of woven polyester that is covered with PVC. So, the material may give a plastic feel, so you must check it for comfort before getting it as outdoor furniture. Textilene fabric is resistant to mold, a flame retardant, and is waterproof. All these factors make it one of the best fabric materials options for outdoor furniture.
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How To Care For Outdoor Furniture
Furniture needs constant maintenance to keep it in shape and long-lasting. And when this furniture is placed outdoors, more maintenance and care are required. Most of the fabrics in the furniture undergo treatment to keep them resistant to moisture and stains but over time, as they are exposed to different weather conditions. Some of the methods in which we can care for other materials of outdoor furniture are:
#1 Wooden furniture
Even though you choose high-quality wood for your outdoor furniture, it is still susceptible to wear and tear, scratches and abrasion over the years. So, it is essential to care for this furniture using the below methods:
- Brush the dust off the wooden furniture at regular intervals as it is prone to dust when placed outdoors.
- Wipe the furniture with a damp cloth using water and mild soap solution.
- If mold is seen on the wooden furniture, wait for it to dry scrub the surface with the brush until it flakes off. After it dries off, continue your cleaning.
- If it is teak, you can use an oil-based cleanser to maintain the shine of the furniture.
- During summer, regularly dust the furniture to maintain the appearance of the furniture.
- You can use a vinyl cover to cover the furniture when not in use to protect it from sunlight (UV rays)
- Avoid any standing rainwater on the furniture after the showers to reduce moisture contact with the furniture.
- Try always to allow the wood to dry naturally.
#2 Metal Furniture
Metal furniture is durable and resilient to wear and tear, but the common issue we encounter in maintaining metal furniture is rusting. You can use the following to support the metal furniture for long-lasting usage:
- Remove any cushions on the furniture and spray lightly on the furniture to remove any debris or dirt.
- Using a soft, damp cloth soaked in soapy water, wipe the furniture.
- To dry the furniture, use an abrasion cloth.
- Avoid using alcohol or acid cleansers as they may leave scratches on the furniture.
- To clean the rust stains, use a paste of baking powder water, scrub the furniture using a soft brush, and clean with water afterward.
- To remove hard water stains, mix white vinegar with water, rub it on the surface, and wipe it with a damp cloth.
- To remove stains on wrought iron, try using a paint scraper and wire brush to remove spots of rust. Make use of sandpaper to scrub off the remaining rust and paint to polish the furniture’s surface.
#3 Plastic furniture
As plastic is fade-resistant, it requires less maintenance. To care for plastic furniture, you can apply the below method:
- Make use of alcohol to clean plastic furniture.
- Once you rinse the furniture with alcohol, wash it off from the furniture using a damp cloth.
- If plastic furniture is exposed to any of these chemicals for a longer time, it will lose its lifespan.
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#4 Tempered glass
Tempered glass is more robust in comparison with annealed glass.
These provide long-time protection to the furniture and do not get scratches or crack easily. To maintain tempered glass:
- Make use of a microfiber cloth and clean the glass with detergent or mild soap.
- Wipe the glass with a damp cloth and leave it to dry.
- Do not move sharp objects against the glass, which may leave scratches.
- If there are any lime deposits on the glass, use a mild vinegar solution to clean those deposits.
Though HPL furniture is resistant to scratches and impact, they require minimum maintenance when used as outdoor furniture:
- Make use of a damp cloth with non-bleach detergent and mild soap to clean HPL furniture.
- To clean the surface soiled by grease, use vinegar or ammoniated-based glass cleaners to care for HPL furniture.
Though Concrete furniture is weather-resistant, durable, and versatile, they need regular cleaning. You can do maintenance of concrete furniture in the below ways:
- Scrubbing stains with a cotton cloth will prevent permanent staining.
- If the stain seems to be permanent, scrub it with mild soap and water.
- Make use of bleach (3/4 – bleach and 1/4 – water) to avoid stronger stains. Wipe the entire surface to prevent any uneven streaks on the furniture. Leave the solution for five minutes on the furniture and wipe it off with a dry towel to clean the furniture.
- An alkaline solution like caustic soda may change the concrete structure when exposed for longer, so try to avoid it while cleaning concrete furniture.
We know that investment in a piece of furniture is a big decision for most of you. The furniture’s material is a significant factor as it determines the quality and longevity of the table.
You would need outdoor waterproof furniture for areas with high rainfall. To pick your choice of outdoor furniture based on your requirements, preferences, budget, and weather conditions, you can consider the above quick guide before coming to a conclusion.