Garden Furniture Buyers Guide

Garden Furniture Buyers Guide

So you want to buy some outdoor furniture and you are confused, so here is our Garden Furniture Buyers Guide to help! There are so many different types and prices on offer, which patio furniture range is best suited to your needs?

Cost

Prices are affected by the price of the raw material and the quality of construction. Generally, the better the quality, the more the garden furniture will cost.

However, another important effect on price is the type of outlet you buy from. If you buy direct from a reputable furniture manufacturer, like Outside Edge, you will cut out the middle man. For example, our round 6 seat cast aluminium sets costs approximately £900 delivered in the UK.

Once you factor in cushions and a parasol, a typical garden centre, for the same quality, would charge up to £1500 for an identical patio set! The retail trade would traditionally buy from people like us, mark up and then sell on to you. With our outdoor furniture website, we can reach you direct; you get a great deal and we sell more patio furniture!

So which type of garden furniture should you go for and at what price level? For the purposes of this guide we will assume that you require backyard furniture that will last at least 10 years in the UK.

Garden Furniture Buyers Guide  – Plastic or Resin?

In the 1980s, the first mass-produced monobloc (single piece) chair was created. As large manufacturers took over, designer elements of the chair were replaced by the need for a practical style, resulting in the type of plastic garden furniture now recognized on patios across the country.

Most of today’s plastic patio furniture uses the same injection-molding process and design qualities as its predecessors. Although the equipment used to manufacture the furniture is very expensive, the mass quantities produced result in low prices.

There are different plastic outdoor furniture quality levels. The easiest way to reduce the cost of say a plastic garden table is to add cheap chalk to the molding mix.

Polypropylene is a comparatively expensive material, but if chalk is added, the final price is reduced but chalk does not repel ultra violet rays. So cheaper plastic garden chairs fade and become brittle in the sun. Also plastic patio furniture users realised that white furniture can be blinding when the sun shines!

Garden Furniture Buyers Guide – Wood

“I inherited a teak garden bench from my grandfather and it’s still going strong, so why did my 5 year old teak dining set fall to bits?”

The bench would have been made from forest teak, probably from India or Burma. The wood could have been up to 400 years old and then air dried for 20 years before it was made into a bench!  Legal teak is now grown in plantations and is graded by age. Basically the centre of the log is the oldest part of the tree and therefore the densest part. As a tree grows the centre of the trunk is under constant inward pressure and this creates density.

Grade1 teak is the heart wood and should be 90 years old – outside life expectancy in the UK would be 20 years, but at least 30 years if treated twice a year. Grade 5 teak is the outside of the trunk, just under the bark, it is soft, it is sapwood, it cannot repel the elements – even with oiling, grade 5 teak will not last more than 4/5 years outside in the UK – that’s why it’s cheaper!

Then there’s even cheaper hardwoods that were everywhere in the 1990s. Do you remember that sea of red hardwood garden furniture in garden centres and DIY stores? The difference between hardwood and softwood is just defined by an impact test – balsa wood is classed as a hardwood!

The redwoods that are exported from Indo-China are mainly Red Balau and Nyatoh. These are hardwoods but they are not dense enough to stand up to our weather and

Another consideration is the standard of joinery and the suitability of adhesives. Each species has different tolerances which must be considered or outdoor furniture construction will fail. Also, has the wood been dried properly?

Finally is the timber quarter sawn? Quarter sawn timber is less prone to cupping or distortion but the log has to be handled two or three times and there is more wastage than long sawn timber – so quarter sawn timber is much more expensive to produce.

Wood SpeciesAgeAverage Price

For 6 Seater Set

Outdoor Life Expectancy Oiled Twice a YearPlantation Timber Available
Teak Quarter Sawn90 yrs250030 yrsyes
Teak Long Sawn10 yrs12005 yrsyes
Iroko Quarter Sawn100 yrs150010 yrsNo – forest wood only
Red Balau Long Sawn15yrs6003-4yrsyes
Nyatoh Long Sawn10yrs5003-4 yrsyes
Yellow Balau Long sawn10 yrs5003-4 yrsyes

So, the best teak does last but it still has to be oiled.

All wood, except Rhodesian ‘Teak’ (which is not teak and is very rare but that’s another story), will fade to a grey colour when exposed to ultra violet light. This effect can be slowed by oiling but not stopped. Even 90 year old teak has to be sanded, cleaned and oiled to keep colour. All types of wooden garden furniture have to be treated to repel UV light, if this is not done the life expectancy is halved.

If you simply like the aesthetic and tactile experience of wooden garden tables and chairs then be prepared to spend at least £1800, if you want your 6 seat patio set to last more than a few years.

Garden Furniture Buyers Guide – Tubular

Tubular steel garden furniture production started in the 1920s and was very popular, especially in the USA, until the 1960s when aluminium tubular outdoor furniture superseded it. The main reason for the demise of tubular steel casual furniture was that aluminium is relatively light, malleable in tubular form and very robust. Also aluminium does not rust! The seat and backs of tubular garden chairs are usually made from texteline which is much more comfortable than hollow metal slats.

Texteline is a plastic (polypropylene), malleable mesh which is waterproof and UV stabilised.

There can be no doubt that well made aluminium tubular garden sun loungers, outdoor tables and patio chairs last very well in the UK climate. Again the life expectancy of the patio furniture depends on the standard and method of production.

Here is a comparison of a low and high quality tubular 6 seater aluminium patio set.

Low quality – Chinese texteline with high chalk content, 2mm gauge recycled aluminium tube, metallic paint, plastic or synthetic fittings, 5mm glass table tops, typical price for 6 outdoor metal chairs, 1 glass top aluminium oval garden table is £399.Life expectancy = under 5 years.

High Quality – Sunbrella texteline (they invented it) with no chalk, 5mm gauge virgin aluminium tube, powder coating, nylon and stainless steel fittings, 8mm tempered glass table tops, typical price for 6 patio chairs, 1 glass top oval outdoor table is £1499. Life expectancy = 20 years.

Garden Furniture Buyers Guide – The Casual Furniture Market Changes

Plastic and wooden outdoor furniture were all the rage in the 1980s/1990s, Europe’s appetite for plastic, teak, red balau, yellow balau, nyatoh and iroko garden furniture was insatiable but why did tastes change? Low priced plastic garden furniture fades and cracks, wood rots, wood harbours dirt and grime, wood needs constant oiling.

Customers were looking for something different and discovered cast aluminium garden furniture.

Garden Furniture Buyers Guide – Solid Cast Aluminium

Designed originally in South Africa, our cast metal garden furniture is classic, smart and functional. This outdoor furniture range will add a touch of elegance to any conservatory, decking, patio or garden.

To produce outdoor furniture for you that lasts and is rust free, Outside Edge has to pay particular attention to the raw materials and each part of the manufacturing process. When you view other outdoor furniture websites, why is the manufacturing process not explained?  Many retailers have no in depth knowledge of the production methods!

Garden Furniture Buyers Guide – Casting

Our aluminium furniture parts are made through gravity die casting. Hers is a link to a description of our casting process.

Garden Furniture Buyers Guide – Virgin Aluminium

Inconsistent recycled aluminium will melt at varying temperatures making it almost impossible to decide on what temperature to weld at, but the melting point of virgin aluminium is constant. Virgin aluminium outdoor furniture that is welded at a constant temperature will not fail.

Garden Furniture Buyers Guide – Stainless Steel Fittings

Our cast aluminium tables and sun loungers are delivered flat packed. It is vital that the assembly fittings are manufactured from stainless steel to avoid any possibility of corrosion. We only specify stainless steel grade 316, this category is regarded as the standard ‘marine grade stainless steel’.

Garden Furniture Buyers Guide – Nylon Caps

All of our metal garden furniture has nylon leg caps. This is essential because otherwise:

  • unprotected metal legs would chip and the elements would then attack the bare aluminium
  • you patio floor would get scratched
  • rubber caps mark and wear quickly.

Garden Furniture Buyers Guide – Welding

Apart from correct, constant weld temperature the bare aluminium parts must be thoroughly cleaned before welding. Aluminium is a very reactive metal, within minutes pure aluminium will combine with oxygen to form aluminium oxide, which forms a very thin, whitish bloom.

This coating prevents the metal from reacting further with oxygen and protects the metal from oxidisation. Aluminium oxide melts at 3 times the temperature of pure aluminium, so if the oxide is present the weld will eventually fail.

Garden Furniture Buyers Guide – Painting

Outside Edge uses powder coating which last approximately 15 years. If just metal paint is used, it starts to flake and peels off after a couple of years. Again, it is crucial that the aluminium is scrupulously cleaned, otherwise the aluminium oxide will prevail and a white bloom will eventually appear through the powder coating.

Garden Furniture Buyers Guide – Conclusion

Outside Edge garden furniture offers superior care-free aluminium and rattan outdoor furniture. We retail our metal and resin weave garden furniture products direct – straight from the factory to your door. Traditionally, a company like ours would supply garden centres who would then supply you. By cutting out the middle man, we can keep the costs down with high quality, reasonably priced garden furniture.

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