September 29 2016
Thanks to Wintons Teak (www.wintonsteak.com)
For a start, good design should also consider comfort, functionality, and craftsmanship. A piece of furniture might be pleasing to the eye now, but might be constructed of second grade materials and bad workmanship that won’t hold up into the future.
The outdoor furniture industry uses a whole host of materials differing in standards, properties, and prices. Materials such as timber, stainless steel, aluminium, and synthetic wicker are all used in making outdoor furniture. Each material in itself has differing levels of quality and standards: for example, not all stainless steel has the same level of corrosion resistance. Definitely not all timber is as rot-proof as teak, and even not all teak is as dense or strong as A-grade teak.
The centimetres matter. Consider how much of your backyard’s floor space you would like to remain free so you’re the space doesn’t look too cramped or cluttered. Make sure you have the exact dimensions before you go out and buy.
In a store, we tend to try chairs by sitting on it in the conventional way. But think of how you like to spend your time outdoors. Do you have your legs stretched out? Feet up? Do you sit by yourself, or with extended family? Remember to pay attention to the width and depth of sofas, loungers, and deep seaters and you can enjoy sitting on it your way.
It’s not all about size, it’s also about comfort. There is no one size fits all for shoes; this is the same with chairs and benches. Check the height of the armrest, the slope of the backrest, the width of the chair, and make sure it is comfortable. The wide range of chairs and tables might look more or less the same, but each has its own feel.
Wind, water, and most of all, the sun, have a stronger and more direct impact on outside furniture; hence it will “age” faster than your indoor furniture. If you’ve chosen wisely, this will affect only the cosmetic things, such as changing colours, and should not compromise the furniture’s functionality or durability.
Attention to detail goes a long way in determining quality and longevity. Some details are hidden, such as no glue line joinery, inside out welding (which bears more weight and stops water from entering hollow steel legs), larger fittings, and thicker metals. Other things are not immediately obvious until time has passed, such as the potential for mould growth in cushions. Asking these questions early on helps you to avoid nasty surprises in the future.
If the outdoor table is to be used as a dining table with a lot of red wine or oily food, and you strongly dislike stains, then a coating might be necessary on the raw timber. Teak naturally resists rot, warping, bending, and insects, but like any porous material, it will stain. Consider what the usage is first so you can be aware of appropriate coating requirements and cleaning methods from the seller.
Be mindful of the environment in which you are going to put the outdoor furniture. For example, if you’re by the beach, you’ll need 304 or 316 (marine grade) stainless steel or you’ll find the steel is not as stainless as it sounds.
Constant exposure to rain and UV damage means that the material and manufacturing requirements are much higher for furniture left outdoors than for indoors. It may be better to pay a little extra now as an investment if you want your outdoor furniture to last into the future.