The best material for outdoor furniture — an expert guide to picking items that will last

From wood to wicker, industry pros weigh in on the best material for outdoor furniture items that will last the test of time

Outdoor dining table and umbrella on patio
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to the best material for outdoor furniture, there's a lot to factor in — from durability, to price and style. And with so many materials to choose from, finding the perfect fit for your patio, balcony or yard, can feel a daunting task.

Fortunately, our industry experts are here to help with a deep-dive on outdoor furniture materials including teak and synthetic wicker, plus the benefits of each. 

With so many of the best outdoor furniture picks on offer at the moment with spring deals, it can be difficult knowing where to invest your hard-earned cash. To make it easier, our experts run-down the best materials, products they recommend and exactly where to can get your hands on them.

The best materials for outdoor furniture

From knowing what's waterproof to finding your style, there's plenty to consider when selecting outdoor furniture. This expert guide will focus on the best materials and their benefits to help perfect your patio and brighten your backyard.

Where our experts have suggested products, our expert shoppers have curated highly-rated products and trusted retailers.

Prices were correct at the time this article was published.

1. Teak outdoor furniture

Teak outdoor furniture set on wooden deck

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Boasting the highest decay resistance of any natural wood, teak is renowned for its exceptional durability, as well as its natural beauty.

Outdoor furniture expert Cameron Grimes, from Country Casual Teak, says, "Teak is the perfect outdoor furniture material. Its high oil and rubber content makes it impervious to rain or pests — and virtually immune to rot. This is why the Dutch used teak to build ships in the early 17th century, and the British Navy followed suit."

Teak furniture begins with a warm, golden color, eventually fading to a silvery-gray patina if left outdoors over time. However, its original color can easily be restored.

Cameron explains, "Teak will last for generations without extra finishes or treatments. And though it will weather to gray, teak can be cleaned at any time to bring back its golden color."

"I'd recommend our Calypso Extension Dining Table which can easily transform to seat 12. Who doesn't love an alfresco meal with family and friends?"

Other teak products worth checking out include this TeakCraft 2-Piece Foldable Chairs Set from Amazon and the Melrose Teak Outdoor Patio Sofa from Wayfair.

It's worth noting due to its high-quality and durability, teak can be expensive. To promote environmental responsibility, check the teak has been sourced from sustainably-managed forests. 

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Benefits of teak outdoor furniture
DurabilityTeak is naturally resistant to rot, moisture, insects and decay, making it ideal for outdoor use in various climates.
Low maintenanceTeak requires minimal maintenance since neither insects or fungi can penetrate it, and dirt usually remains on the surface for easy removal.
Timeless appealTeak's rich color and classic design complement a wide range of outdoor looks, from traditional to contemporary.
Profile photo of Cameron Grimes
Cameron Grimes

Cameron Grimes is an architecture, landscape design and furniture specialist at Country Casual Teak, which has been producing quality teak furniture solutions for outdoor spaces for more than 45 years.

2. Synthetic wicker outdoor furniture

Synthetic wicker outdoor furniture set on deck

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wicker furniture adds a touch of rustic charm to any outdoor space and offers several benefits including its lightweight, comfort, and versatility. It's no wonder so many retailers such as Amazon and Wayfair feature it.

Wicker is often mistaken for rattan, which — though it comes with its own benefits — tends to rot when exposed to damp conditions. We recommend synthetic resin wicker — as opposed to natural wicker — as it's highly weather-resistant, easy to clean, and relatively inexpensive. 

Natural wicker is best suited for covered or partially covered outdoor areas to protect it from prolonged exposure to moisture and sunlight.

Consider this synthetic three-piece Rattaner outdoor furniture set with no-slip cushions from Amazon, or the this Jagger two-person outdoor seating set from Wayfair for a long-lasting addition to your space.

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Benefits of synthetic wicker outdoor furniture
VersatilityWicker furniture is available in various styles, including traditional, contemporary, and eclectic, allowing you to find the perfect match for your outdoor decor.
Lightweight Wicker furniture is lightweight and easy to move, making it ideal for rearranging your outdoor seating area as needed.
Comfort Wicker furniture often features plush cushions for added comfort, making it perfect for lounging outdoors

3. Aluminum outdoor furniture

Aluminum outdoor furniture bistro set

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Aluminum furniture boasts a sleek and modern aesthetic, along with several practical benefits, including being rust-resistant. 

Its lightweight, flexible nature allows it to feature in a great many different and creative designs, including in combination with other materials, such as wicker. 

It's also easy to clean with a simple mixture of water and white vinegar.

Our experts recommend the Pismo five-piece aluminum Chat set from Target and this Amopatio aluminum six-piece set from Amazon

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Benefits of aluminium outdoor furniture
Weather resistanceAluminum is rust-resistant and withstands exposure to moisture, making it ideal for outdoor use in all seasons.
LightweightAluminum furniture is lightweight and easy to move, making it a practical choice for outdoor dining or entertaining.
Low maintenanceAluminum furniture requires minimal maintenance, as it can be cleaned with mild soap and water and does not require sealing or staining.

4. Cedar outdoor furniture

Two Adirondack chairs connected by wooden table set in grass

(Image credit: Amish Direct)

Cedar furniture combines natural beauty with durability, making it a popular choice for outdoor settings.

Rafi Friedman, CEO of Coastal Luxury Outdoors, says, "If you're going to choose a natural material for your outdoor furniture, cedar is definitely the way to go. While more exotic materials like teak will last longer, they're also much more expensive."

Other benefits of cedar wood include its pleasant smell — which also acts as an insect repellent — and its high content of natural oils and resin. 

Rafi adds, "Cedar is also high in resin, which makes it much more resistant to the elements in the long run than most other materials. 

"For me, it's hard to go wrong with Amish Direct Furniture's cedar range — the little details are what really make their pieces stand out. They're choosy about which cuts of wood they'll use, and they also stain everything by hand. Check out their Adirondack Chair & Table Combo."

Cedar furniture may require occasional sealing or staining (try the highly-rated Valspar pre-tinted clear exterior wood stain and sealer from Lowe's) to maintain it's appearance and prolong its lifespan. 

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Benefits of cedar outdoor furniture
Natural resistanceCedar is naturally resistant to rot, decay, and insects, making it well-suited for outdoor use without the need for chemical treatments.
AromaticCedar has a distinct aroma that adds to its charm and acts as a natural insect repellent.
Stability Cedar's low density and straight grain make it resistant to warping and cracking, ensuring long-lasting durability.
Profile photo of Rafi Friedman, Coastal Luxury Outdoors
Rafi Friedman

Rafi Friedman is Chief Executive Officer of Coastal Luxury Outdoors, which is dedicated to building high-quality custom backyard experiences. Founded in 1983, the company now provides bespoke service to more than 1,000 clients. 

5. Poly Lumber outdoor furniture

White Cape Cod Porch Rocking Chair - Trex Furniture

(Image credit: Trex Furniture)

There's nothing quite like a recycled and sustainable buy for your home. Made from recycled plastic, poly lumber offers an eco-friendly and low-maintenance alternative to traditional wood.

Though sometimes more expensive than traditional outdoor wood furniture, its durability and easy maintenance can result in savings over the longer term. 

Poly lumber won't rot, rust, or splinter like other materials, and is super easy to clean. It's also great to know you're helping the environment by using recycled material that might otherwise have ended up in landfill.

Rafi says, "Poly lumber comes in various types and has so many benefits, including to the environment. A great choice is trex — a mix of wood pulp fiber and recycled plastic. It looks like wood, but it lasts a lot longer. Trex Furniture produce high-quality products that come with a great warranty."

We like this Trex Outdoor Yacht Club Bench from Wayfair and the Poly Outdoor Furniture Berlin Series Porch Swings.

While poly lumber mimics the look of wood, it may lack the natural warmth and texture of real wood.

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Benefits of poly lumber outdoor furniture
Environmentally friendlyPoly lumber is made from recycled plastic, reducing waste and promoting sustainability.
Weather resistancePoly lumber is resistant to rot, moisture, insects, and fading, making it ideal for outdoor use in any climate.
Low maintenancePoly lumber requires minimal maintenance, as it can be cleaned with soap and water and does not require sealing or staining.

Outdoor furniture to shop

Creating your own outdoor oasis will come down to many factors including your taste, budget and priorities. 

From the timeless elegance of teak to the eco-friendly appeal of poly lumber, each material offers its own unique benefits and points to consider. 

Next, why not consider some fabulous spring decor ideas to give your outdoor space that extra magic.

Andy van Terheyden
Freelance Writer

I'm a senior writer with an English degree and NCJ qualification, plus years of experience writing news, lifestyle and consumer articles for the national and international press. I'm also a copywriter, working on a breadth of consumer and corporate projects, and a private education consultant. I live in the quiet of the countryside and spend my weekends mooching around homeware shops, completing DIY tasks to breathe life into my small, newly-built home.