Different Metals Used For Garden Furniture – whats best iron or aluminium?

Metals Used For Garden Furniture

Metal Outdoor Furniture – An Explanation

Thinking about aluminium garden furniture,  we might contemplate the flimsy, unstable metal loungers of your young days or an incredibly heavy iron bench or table standing on your grandfather’s patio. These are some of the metals used for garden furniture

Aluminium garden furniture has developed somewhat since. Here’s a short lesson on the different sorts and their uses or maintenance.

Metals Used For Garden Furniture – Manufacturing Types

Aluminium is formed into tables and chairs in a number of media: tubing, welded and solid die cast or sand-cast.

Tubing is made by pushing molten aluminium into pipe molds with an interior gauge which forms the tube. Of course the resulting metal tube is hollow and the wider the interior bit, the thinner the tube gauge is.

Metals Used For Garden Furniture – Die Casting

To cast aluminium a negative copy of the product or parts are used to form the exact opposite. This is done with die-casting, sand cast or pressure casting.

To die cast, aluminium is melted down at approximately 660 degrees centigrade, poured into a mold where one side is stationary and the other moves back and forth on a motorized jig. When the metal cools, the mold is split apart and the part or product is revealed. The raw product usually has to be fettled and degreased before powder coating.

Metals Used For Garden Furniture – Sand Casting

The ancient method of sand casting involves putting the solid pattern into a sand box, the pattern is removed and the cavity is filled with molten aluminium poured from a ladle and fetched from a crucible.

Metals Used For Garden Furniture – Pressure Casting

Pressure casting is usually performed in an enclosed machine where the metal ingots are automatically melted, the aluminium is forced into a complete mold and then the resulting solid shape is removed with an auto scraper. Basically the raw metal is put in at one end, and a product comes out at the other end.

To forge, a method where a metal is warmed then beaten into a form that makes the kind of product sometimes called beaten metal. This method of manufacture is very prevalent in the Midlands in the UK, especially around Birmingham and the forge workers were known as tin bashers in the industrial revolution.

Metals Used For Garden Furniture – Iron Versus Aluminium

The often used metal for garden furniture is aluminium, extruded and solid, steel, iron and some cheaper alloys.

Iron is readily found on earth but it rusts, which is different to oxidization. Rusting means that water will always compromise the internal structure of the metal whilst oxidization forms an oxide on the top of the metal and then this effect stops. For this reason iron products have to be powder coated for outside but the rust will eventually show through.

Iron is 3 times heavier than aluminium, this could be an advantage if your garden furniture has to used on the side of a hill or in a very windy spot. It is common mistake to think that all iron garden furniture will disappear and dissolve in water.

Cast iron benches were brought up from the Titantic wreck and were still in good condition after many years. If the iron is very thick it will last for a very long time, Think of the Ironbridge by Brunel which was made of iron in 1775. It’s just that in normal domestic use, people tend to want to move their garden furniture around and iron is incredibly heavy.

So, since the 1950s aluminium in solid cast or tubing, has been used to fabricate outdoor furniture. Why? Well aluminium is light, strong, malleable, easily worked, easily melted and good to cast. Aluminium will never rust, once cleaned, outdoor furniture made 60 years ago can look brand new.

 

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