Summertime, and the living is… mostly taking place outdoors. Why would you sit inside when the weather is great, and you and your friends and family could be having dinner on your patio? When pleasant weather arrives, the best seat in the house is actually outside, especially when it’s time to eat. Patio dining sets come in your choice of three basic types of material: wood, metal and plastic. Here’s a brief buyer’s guide, so you can choose one that suits your lifestyle, your home, and your sense of style.
Wood Patio Dining Sets
Wood is great looking, and very durable. It is no surprise that a lot of outdoor furniture made of wood, considering it is charm and practicality as a construction material. If wood conjures mental pictures of your dad’s old pine do-it-yourself picnic table, or your mom’s rattan patio tables, and how quickly they fell apart when exposed to the elements, think again. There are many excellent, beautiful hardwoods that can make an excellent building material.
Forget pine, oak or natural wicker, for outdoor furniture, they won’t stand up to the weather and the sun. Teak, eucalyptus or cedar will. Teak is the jewel in the crown of outdoor furniture woods. It is extremely durable. So durable, in fact, that it was the shipbuilding material of choice in the days of the clipper ships. Teak patio tables can outlive their owners-teak lasts up to one hundred years. It weathers from a warm orangey medium brown to a rich silvery gray.
If you’d prefer the original warm brown, no worries, apply teak protector once a year (or twice in hot climates). Natural teak oil will do just fine. Note that teak is a rare wood, and responsibly harvested teak comes with a stamp from the Forest Stewardship Council. The only real downside of teak is that being rare, it’s expensive, with five piece patio dining sets ranging from $900 to $3,000 in price, typically.
Eucalyptus or cedar are less expensive option, and can last almost as long Wicker Dining Sets as teak if treated with a water-based acrylic sealant. They’re less expensive, ranging from $325 to $1,000. Cedar sets last about 20 years, if you apply an annual coating of protective oil.
When buying wooden patio dining sets pay attention to how they’re constructed. Look for sturdy dovetail or mortise and tenon joinery, rather than flimsy glue and staple joints.
Metal Patio Dining Sets
There are two good options when considering metal outdoor furniture: aluminum and wrought iron. Wrought iron isn’t really wrought anymore-that is, they don’t hammer it into shape over a fire. These days it’s cast in molds. Sets can be expensive, ranging in price from about $600 to around $2,300, but you’ll get your choice of patio dining sets as wrought iron comes in a great variety of styles, ranging from the sleekly modern to old-school Italian villa filigree.
Make sure you buy only powder-coated wrought iron (outdoor furniture that is sprayed with ground pigment resin to protect it from rust). Even properly coated, wrought iron may rust if not properly maintained. You’ll need touch up paint for your outdoor furniture.
Aluminum patio dining sets cost about the same as wrought iron, but are completely rustproof. As an added bonus, these patio dining sets are so light that they’re easy to move. They can look as ornate as wrought iron or austere and modern.