Best Outdoor Materials Guide

Best Outdoor Materials Guide

Your client’s outdoor space should be an extension of their home, not an addition. The materials used on your clients' outdoor furniture is just as important as the look.  This is why we wrote this best outdoor materials guide.  Their outdoor furniture should embody their personal style just as a luxury living room or high-end dining room does. But it must also function as a social area in which to entertain guests while also being able to invite intimacy into an evening so your client and their significant other can enjoy a relaxing night together under the stars.

Furnishing a space like this is difficult. Especially since no two outdoor areas are the same. A tiled patio with a pool needs a different type of furniture than a space covered in freshly mowed grass and neatly trimmed bushes.

We have put together our best outdoor materials guide using the knowledge we have amassed from our years serving our clients and designing award-winning spaces to help you decide which furniture materials would be most suitable for your client’s unique outdoor area so you can shop with confidence.

We want to share our knowledge with you. So keep reading our best outdoor materials guide to discover the different types of metals and woods that luxury brands use for their outdoor furniture and the pros and cons of using each material in different environments. By the end of this best outdoor materials guide, we know you’ll have all of the information you need about furniture materials to make an informed decision about your client's outdoor space.


Types of Outdoor Materials


There are many types of materials used for outdoor furniture, and the kind of material you decide to use for your client's outdoor space should be determined by the qualities of the material and how well they mesh with your client’s lifestyle and environment. This section of our best outdoor materials guide will help you make this decision. Materials differ in terms of functionality, durability, and longevity greatly. To give you the best chance of getting it right the first time around, we have listed the outdoor materials most commonly used in outdoor furniture.



A best outdoor materials guide wouldn’t be complete without a section detailing this material. Aluminum is one of the most popular materials used by luxury brands to create outdoor furniture. The term ‘aluminum’ refers to aluminum metal that has gone through the process of extrusion. This process shapes the metal into a hollow round or square frame so it can be used as a frame for home furnishings. This makes aluminum attractive to those with active lifestyles as hollow aluminum outdoor furniture is extremely lightweight while still being durable. You can lift an aluminum chair with one arm and carry it to that spot in your yard that is still getting some late afternoon sun without breaking a sweat.

Although the machines are expensive, they can be used for decades with proper maintenance meaning aluminum furniture is relatively cheap compared to the other types of material on this list. Moreover, since this material is durable and resistant to corrosion and sharp changes in temperature, it is ideal for poolside patios.

However, aluminum is a natural conductor of heat, meaning if an aluminum chair is left in the sun for several hours without a cover, it may become hot to the touch. To prevent your client from hurting themselves, look for pieces with a powder-coated finish that makes the item UV-resistant.

Stylistically, aluminum is one of the most diverse materials out there. It is malleable, meaning that designers can make pieces in a number of different styles and colors. And since this outdoor furniture material has been used for decades, you will find thousands of pieces already on the market.

If you choose a piece of aluminum furniture for your client’s space, you must tell them how to clean it properly to avoid rusting. But don’t worry; unlike other materials, this process is easy. All they need to do is wash the piece with soapy water to remove dirt and debris every month and let it dry naturally on a sunny day.


Cast Aluminum


While many people think aluminum and cast aluminum are the same type of material, there are many differences. Cast aluminum is solid where aluminum is hollow. This makes cast aluminum considerably more expensive and labor-intensive to construct, meaning it is more expensive to purchase a piece of cast aluminum furniture. However, since it is solid throughout, cast aluminum is extremely durable. With the average lifespan of a piece being 15 – 20 years, it's excellent value for money. And this increased price is worth every penny if you live in a windy area as cast aluminum is significantly heavier than traditional aluminum furniture, so it won’t fly away like a traditional piece would on a windy day.

If your client enjoys the traditional aesthetic of a classic patio, then select key pieces of cast aluminum furniture for their outdoor space in a classic style and choose one ornate piece to act as its focal point. For example, if you are furnishing a sleek outdoor dining space, choose a simple dining table and surround it with dining chairs with a delicate back or two benches with intricately styled legs.


Stainless and Galvanized Steel


A best outdoor materials guide would not be complete without a section detailing steel furniture since it has doubled in popularity in the last decade. Both stainless steel and galvanized steel are heavier than the materials we have listed thus far. This means that it is ideal for windy areas and places with a high crime rate since burglars won’t be able to make off with a steel set as easily as they could with an aluminum piece.

Not only is steel furniture a safe choice thanks to its durability, but most steel pieces are also very comfortable, especially when compared to iron sets. So we always recommend steel sets to those with clients that want to create an intimate open area for relaxing in their modern outdoor furniture.

However, like aluminum, steel can become hot to the touch when placed in direct sunlight for an extended period of time. We suggest using cushions to prevent discomfort during the summer months and purchasing pieces with a protective finish to prevent rust and corrosion as the weather changes.


Wrought Iron


Wrought iron was once the go-to material used for outdoor furniture. This material is comprised of low carbon iron mixed with fibrous slag inclusions. This made it very affordable compared to hardwoods and other metals and great value for money since its makeup makes it extremely durable.

Although wrought iron is no longer produced commercially, wrought iron furniture is still produced using a combination of cast iron, “machine wrought iron,” and low carbon steel. The furniture is handcrafted by ironsmiths to include intricate detailing so that it can appeal to the masses.

However, you must keep in mind that wrought iron is prone to rust, so it should not be used in humid or rainy climates unless you purchase a piece that has a modern powder-coated finish.

This type of material is also very easy to maintain. All your client needs to do is clean it using a damp cloth and a mixture of equal parts water and mild detergent. We always recommend that our customers apply a rust protector to any piece of wrought iron furniture to extend its lifespan.



The next type of outdoor material you need to know about is synthetic wicker. This is commonly referred to as all-weather wicker since furniture that is made using this material can be left outside year-round without being damaged by the elements. Its durability comes from its makeup. The synthetic material that this type of furniture is made from is cut into thin strips, then it is woven with great care and wrapped over a metal frame for peak durability. The materials used are coated with gentle dyes that have been mixed to ensure that the piece's color runs through every inch of the material.

Luxury outdoor furniture made of wicker is usually available in a range of colors since it is so popular. This means that you should be able to find a piece of wicker furniture that is ideal for your client's space, no matter their personal style.




There are two types of rattan commonly used in furniture manufacturing- synthetic rattan and natural rattan. It can be difficult to tell the difference between the two since both are available in a wide variety of shapes, styles, and designs. But this means that it isn’t difficult to create a modern outdoor space that is highly elegant and sophisticated in its look.

Since there is little to no difference between natural and synthetic rattan when it comes to comfort. You should prioritize the quality of the fiber used to make the piece and the quality of its craftsmanship. The higher the quality of a piece, the more beautiful the weaving and the more beautiful the piece of furniture.

However, we are summarizing both types of rattan so you can help your client make an informed decision about what type of material you should purchase furniture in.


Natural Rattan


Natural materials possess a unique charm when used for outdoor furniture. They reflect a feeling of warmth and relaxation through a space of any size that could never be achieved using furniture made from man-made materials, no matter how much two similar pieces look alike.

Since natural rattan furniture is exceptionally strong and durable (able to withstand the elements with ease given that it was extracted from nature), it is highly sought after. However, it cannot withstand extreme temperatures well, and it must not be exposed to sunlight or get soaked by rain. Your client must be equipped to protect the piece using covers and have space to store it in the winter or in periods of bad weather.

If your client is environmentally conscious, then they may seek out furniture made using natural rattan as it is known as an environmentally friendly material. While this was once true, times are changing. Due to the rise in demand for rattan furniture, unsustainable harvesting practices are becoming more common. This means that in the past five years, some rattan species have been threatened with extinction. In some more severe cases, there is a risk of forest degradation and loss of biodiversity, which can have devastating effects on local wildlife. Since processing rattan often involves the use of toxic chemicals that pollute the environment and jeopardize the workers' health, this practice may no longer be sustainable.


Synthetic Rattan


This type of outdoor furniture material is specially designed to be resistant to the elements. But how well it can withstand exposure to the outside world is dependent on the quality of the fibers used in its creation, much like natural rattan. However, unlike natural rattan, synthetic rattan does not fade when exposed to direct sunlight, meaning that it can be used outside without the need for a cover during the summer months. And in the winter months, you don’t need to worry about a piece of furniture made using synthetic rattan being damaged by harsh weather. They are durable enough to withstand even the toughest rainfall.

However, furniture made using synthetic rattan is no more environmentally friendly than a piece made using natural rattan. Still, due to the unsustainable farming practices mentioned above, this can be an excellent alternative to natural rattan furniture since these man-made fibers are designed with care in a lab that measures their output carefully to avoid causing excess harm to the environment.

We recommend furniture made using this type of material to anyone that is furnishing an outdoor space in a relaxed style since they often remind people of trips abroad to Europe and beautiful beachfront vacations. This relaxed feeling carries through to maintenance as rattan furniture can be cleaned and maintained with ease. Simply have your client use a damp cloth to wipe it once a month and rinse the piece with clean water weekly if they live in a sandy area.


Natural Wood


If you are furnishing an outdoor dining space, we recommend that you have your clients choose natural wood furniture to achieve a traditional look. There are many natural wood options, such as cedar for humid climates, oak for socially active families, and eucalyptus for areas with an active insect population. Eucalyptus is also commonly used for decking since it is naturally resistant to moisture, so you can create a cohesive look with ease with this type of wood.

Since most wood is sustainably sourced, you can assure your client that the piece they receive will not negatively impact the environment during the manufacturing process any more than is expected. However, you must emphasize that natural wood outdoor furniture must be maintained more often than the other types of material on this list. If the woods are unsealed and exposed to outdoor elements, they will begin to rot within two years of purchasing. Your client must refinish the piece after the first year of having it to ensure that it can fulfill its lifespan. We suggest that you have them purchase a natural patina for this process when they buy the piece. Email them a refinishing reminder on the anniversary of their purchase to remind them to use it. Your client will be grateful for the aftercare instructions, and they will be more likely to call on you to design other spaces in their property down the line.



After talking to our design team about natural woods, we knew we had to highlight teak separately since it is so popular within the design community. This material is a densely grained tropical hardwood meaning its core is full of an abundance of natural protective oils and rubber elements. This is what gives this material its natural weather-resistant and insect-repellent properties.

Teak is ideal for outdoor furniture as it is incredibly durable. It requires little maintenance to keep it looking its best, so we always recommend it to those furnishing an outdoor space for a busy family that often leaves their home unattended for weeks to go on business trips or vacations.

In most cases, teak outdoor furniture is sold in its natural form. Natural teak is treated with teak oil so that it can carry a warm, golden-honey glow through the outdoor area and into your client’s home. However, outdoor teak furniture can be treated to make it weather-resistant. This is the second type of teak outdoor furniture. It is ideal for use year-round, thanks to its high oil content levels. Both types are suitable for outdoor use, but weather-resistant teak requires less maintenance than natural teak, so keep this in mind when discussing furniture options with your client.


The Best Outdoor Furniture Brands & Designers


Now that you know the different types of materials used to create outdoor furniture, you need to know which brands produce quality outdoor furniture. We have listed three brands in this best outdoor materials guide that we have worked closely with for years and know produce outdoor furniture in a variety of materials to help you narrow down your choices.


Gloster Furniture

This brand produces outdoor furniture for dining, living, and kitchen spaces as well as a variety of accessories and light fixtures, meaning you could furnish your client's entire outdoor space with furniture from just one of this brand's many collections with ease. Moreover, since Gloster Furniture manufactures uniquely styled products, you can mix and match pieces from these different collections to create a space that reflects the unique style of your client. Gloster would be on any list of the best outdoor materials guide.


Bernhardt Exterior

The furniture of Bernhardt Exterior possesses the same delicate styles common in indoor pieces while being specially designed for outdoor living. You’ll find a range of pieces in our inventory made from a variety of materials, from sofas to dining tables, all made to withstand the elements. The designers take time to develop the pieces they produce to ensure that the piece their customer receives can give your clients a different outdoor experience. One that will make them want to spend all of their time at home outside.


Bunny Williams Outdoor Furniture

While we have mentioned two brands already, this designer deserves to be highlighted for her collection of outdoor furniture. Bunny Williams Outdoor Furniture breathes new life into outdoor furnishings with her stylish, sophisticated approach to outdoor living by melding form and function.  We carry outdoor furniture from this designer in various materials for every space function, so whether you are furnishing an outdoor dining room, kitchen, or living room, you’ll find a piece that meets your client's needs with ease.

We hope this best outdoor materials guide has taught you which materials are best for your outdoor space, so you have an easier time purchasing quality furniture for your client’s home. Now that you have this knowledge, you can focus on finding furniture that can appeal to the individual aesthetics and lifestyles of the families you work for.

If you are looking for luxury outdoor furniture for your client’s space, then look no further. We have a huge collection of high-quality luxury outdoor furniture from brands like Gloster Furniture, Bernhardt Exteriors, and Bunny Williams Outdoor Furniture for you to peruse. Visit our website to see everything we have in stock in one place and use the refine search tool to browse by material and find your client's ideal piece of outdoor furniture in seconds. You will find comprehensive product descriptions of every piece in our inventory to help you find furniture that is right for your client’s outdoor space.  If you're in the Miami area feel free to stop by our luxury furniture store and see what we have on the floor.