Recently, a pair of homeowners approached landscape designer Gina Benincasa and told her that they were sick and tired of replacing their outdoor furniture every few years. “Build us something that will last forever,” they said.
For these clients, a stone bench and granite-topped table were the solution to a common challenge: choosing outdoor furniture that can weather sun, rain and humidity.
Not all can afford custom work, so we asked Benincasa, who works for D&A Dunlevy Landscapers in Poolesville, Md., for the rundown on the metal, wood, and plastic furnishings for decks, patios and balconies.
First, she says, there’s metal, which is probably the most durable but can be expensive. (And be aware of the differences between powder-coated metal, which makes for a long, colorful life, and painted metal, which is less expensive but will require more maintenance, Benincasa says.)
Second, there’s wood, mostly teak, “which definitely withstands the test of time.”
And then there’s wicker, which is a weave that’s now made of better, longer-lasting stuff than in the past.
Last, there’s plastic, which can be trendy and fun, but might need to be replaced more often.
If the rule applies anywhere, it’s here: You get what you pay for.
“We definitely go for things that are going to stand the test of time — and sometimes those things are expensive,” says Leslie Gignoux, a Washington landscape architect
Additionally, when furniture is out in the elements, nothing is maintenance-free. Powder-coating needs cleaning with mild soap, paint can need repainting and wood can need sanding and staining.
But it’s not all bad news when it comes to living en plein air. As homeowners increasingly consider the outdoors as an additional living space, manufacturers are responding with better-quality furniture and a growing selection of materials, fabrics and colors. To help you sift through all the options, here are 14 pieces that will be ready to party for years to come.