Why choosing the right patio furniture is so important.
Mildew, rust, corrosion, decay. Four words that are a big concern to many Vancouver patio owners trying to furnish their outdoor dining spaces.
Commonly throughout the patio installation process, our clients ask for advice on choosing long lasting furniture, resistant to the four factors mentioned above. While the best seat for rain is a seat with no rain on it, “Raincouver’s” notoriously wet climate makes this situation highly unlikely. Therefore, choosing the right resistant materials is even more important to prevent expensive furniture replacement in the future.
With this in mind, patio owners must be extra persistent on choosing high quality, functional, and weather resistant components for their outdoor patio spaces.
Bring on the rain! The most resistant materials for wet climates.
Patio furniture is made up of multiple components. For simplicity, we’ve broken down the most resilient furniture materials into four categories. Our list is not exclusive, its just what we’ve found works well in Vancouver’s climate.
To start things off, lets examine the materials that play a role in your comfort.
Foam and fabric not only take your patio design to the next level, they also play an important role in protecting the furniture under it from weather and sun damage. For indoors, common foam types include Polyester Fiberfill (pillow stuffing), medium and high-density Polyurethane (mattress, indoor cushion), and Fabric Backed Sew Foam (upholstery).
Each has given advantages, but if you want to use any for outdoor purposes, then expect to be bringing them inside constantly for most of the year. They all share a common trait; they absorb water. With unexpected rainfall likely to occur, cushions made from these foams may leave you and your guests walking away with a soaked bottom! So what foam should you use?
Dry Fast Open Cell Foam
As the name suggests, open cell foam has had its cell walls completely blown out. This means that the open pores created allow both water and air to pass through with ease. So, when the time comes for unexpected downpour, you can rest easy knowing that your cushion will be dry within hours after the rain stops.
Even better, Dry Fast Foam is formulated with an antimicrobial agent to prevent mold and mildew buildup. When paired with the right fabric, you get a maintenance free cushion in sun, rain and snow.
Three of the leading fabrics for outdoor patios are polyester, acrylic, and olefin.
Polyester fabrics are tight knit and usually have very bright colours. They are strong, wrinkle resistant and quick drying. After being threaded, they are either dipped in colour or painted, which means their colour doesn’t last as long as acrylic or olefin fabrics due to fading from UV rays.
While not entirely waterproof, polyester fabric is water, stain and damage resistant. Usually, a polyester cushion will be coated in either acrylic or vinyl to help make it more water resistant. Acrylic coated polyester is softer and more fit for pillows, while vinyl coated polyester is more plasticky better suited for umbrellas, back slings and covers.
Polyester fabric is usually a more cost effective option and will likely have the most selection of designs due to its fast, batch-dyed colouring process. However, while this is certainly a viable and common option, it will likely be the first to fade or damage compared to the other two fabrics below.
Acrylic fabric is soft, durable, and quick drying. It can handle damp climate conditions and is mildew and bacteria resistant, especially the premium grade acrylic. Commonly viewed as the all-purpose option for outdoor patios, it has many different applications from throw cushions to covers and it is much more breathable and stays cooler on hot days. However, it tends to be more expensive than other kinds of outdoor fabric, especially if you go for industry standard brand names.
The dying process is done on the individual threads before it is woven (solution-dyed), which makes it more fade-resistant compared to polyester fabric, but there are less variety of colours to choose from compared to polyester.
Olefin is smooth in texture but isn’t as soft as the previously mentioned fabrics. It is very durable, quick-drying, water, stain and mildew resistant. While not optimal for pillows, it can be fantastic for cushions. This option is the easiest to clean and is less expensive than acrylic fabric.
Like acrylic fabric, olefin is solution-dyed before it’s woven, making it resistant to UV rays and fade-damage but the choice of colours and designs are limited.
Wood and Synthetics
It is crucial that patio furniture is low maintenance and easy to clean. Certain materials perform best for Vancouver’s particularly wet climate.
Teak has a warm, orange-brown colour and is resistant to breaks and insect damage compared to other hardwoods. It is quite scarce so its price lands on the higher end of materials.
It performs particularly well in wet environments where other woods may rot because its originates from forests prone to tropical downpours. This is largely due to its high oil content and tight grain which seals it from water damage.
Teak wood must be varnished to be long lasting, and it tends to grey overtime.
Plastic teak is an environmentally friendly material that has the look and feel of real teak wood but is made entirely from recycled plastic. Unlike real teak, it is completely fade-resistant and 100% waterproof. It is easy to clean and stain resistant due to its non-porous nature and is highly durable, which is ideal for an outdoor patio.
Plastic teak is a commonly used alternative to real teak however it doesn’t give the same aesthetic appeal to the real thing.
Resin is a plastic-like material that’s becoming exceedingly popular with restaurant owners. It is very durable, scratchproof, and optimal for heavy traffic. Resin is completely waterproof and recyclable, doesn’t require paint or seal, and it can be made to look like a wide variety of materials, shapes, and styles of furniture.
While common spills can be easily cleaned with water and a cloth, using mildew prevention cleaner is suggested.
Werzalit is a composite material made from high pressure machines merging resin and wood grains into usable shapes. It has been used for many years within the industry due to its dense structure, resistant to scratches and damage. Like resin, it is 100% waterproof and very easy to clean. It provides low maintenance, easy to clean surfaces in a variety of materials such as stone, wood, marble, solid colours and more.
A unique trait to werzalit is that it’s heat resistant and will not show burn marks from hot plates or mugs. Due to Vancouver’s varying hot and cold climate, this material can provide reliable table surfaces regardless of the season.
Synthetic Wicker (resin wicker)
While we already touched on the advantages of resin, the unique look and feel of synthetic wicker furniture puts itself into a category of its own.
Wicker is a process of weaving which commonly uses an organic palm leaf material called rattan. Synthetic wicker furniture uses resin in the same weaving process. This can be shaped in many colours and styles and gives a more traditional rustic feel to your patio design.
Synthetic wicker furniture has all the same advantages as resin and can be washed with soap and water.
These are usually the strongest and heaviest materials you can choose. Certain metals are vulnerable to rust or corrosion while others can get hot to the touch when exposed to the sun.
Most will be susceptible to heat, so if you choose metal furniture, make sure to cover it with an umbrella and cushions to protect yourself from the sun.
A sleek, shiny, and metallic appearance, stainless steel is high quality and long lasting. It is often made from recycled metal so it’s an environmentally conscious choice, though furniture made from stainless steel is expensive. It’s heavy and resistant to windy weather unlike aluminium, which is light and can sometimes tip over.
Stainless steel is more heat resistant than other kinds of metals but it still does heat up in direct sunlight. It is resistant to rust and corrosion, but Vancouver’s coastal geography and salty ocean air promote corrosion at a quicker rate. Just like with aluminum, this can be prevented with a powder coating, so be sure to lookout for this detail before purchasing any stainless steel furniture.
Sleek and shiny in appearance, aluminum can come in a variety of colours depending on the powder coating. It is very lightweight and mouldable.
Aluminum is naturally resistant to rust and corrosion since it has no iron in its composition to react when it’s oxidized. It is water resistant and is usually protected even further with a powder coating. This coating is important in Vancouver because of our region’s salty ocean air.
Cleaning can be done easily with soapy water. It is prone to scratches due to its mouldable nature and is best when combined with fabric and cushions to protect it from the wear and tear damages of long term usage.
Protect Your Investment
The materials listed above are all viable options for our clients looking to furnish their patios. Each has its own pros and cons but all are known to perform well in wet climates such as Vancouver’s.
This list was made to showcase the most durable and long lasting patio furniture materials for wet climates. However, our team also specializes in designing custom wood and metal larger scale benches and structures from a variety of undiscussed hardwood materials.
Regardless of materials, certain furniture upkeep practices, such as washing and moving heavily exposed sun/rain cushions into shaded/dry areas during non-use, will help protect your furniture investment longer. Weatherproofing patios for Vancouver’s climate is no easy feat. Outside furniture will inevitably deteriorate overtime along with the patio itself. However, with proper preparation, you can avoid many of the common pitfalls that make you repurchase outdoor furniture again and again.
For more information on preventing weather damage and patio installation best practices, contact our expert designers.