Things to know about Patio Dining Sets

Things to know about Patio Dining Sets
by Rod Ernest

Imagine this You’re hungry. You’ve got your food, your cold drink, and the weather’s beautiful, so you want to eat outside. Having no furniture outside, you sit on the ground. Your white pants get dirty, and you just sat in a nest of biting ants. No doubt you can see the value of sitting on something more civilized. That’s where patio dining sets come in.

They are created from three typical categories of material: metal, plastic and wood. Below, the merits of each are outlined, so you can choose the type that suits you best.

Sturdy and attractive, wood is an outstanding building material. If you have the image in mind of those old pine picnic tables, or your auntie’s deteriorating wicker patio tables, reconsider. Gorgeous hardwoods wear like iron in all kinds of weather, unlike Pine.

A coating of a protective varnish or oil once a year will keep your teak furniture looking good year after year. Natural teak oil deters termites as well as protects your outdoor furniture. Be aware that as a rare, rain-forest wood, you should only buy teak with a stamp from the Forest Stewardship Council. The only real negative of teak is its cost, with five piece patio dining sets ranging from $900 to $3,000 in price, normally.

Eucalyptus or cedar may last nearly as long as teak when sealed with an acrylic sealant, but cost considerably less, with prices starting at $325 and going up to around $1,000 for eucalyptus. Cedar is slightly cheaper and can withstand the weather for about 20 years with proper annual maintenance. How the wooden outdoor furniture is put together also matters, proper mortise and tenon joints or dovetail joints outlast cheap stables and glue.

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Eucalyptus or cedar are less expensive option, and can last almost as long 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.

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.

Consider only powder-coated wrought iron. This means that the outdoor furniture is sprayed with ground pigment resin to protect it from rust. Even so, your wrought iron can rust if it isn’t maintained correctly. Luckily, paint for touching up your outdoor furniture is widely available.

Aluminum patio dining sets are no more expensive than wrought iron, but are entirely rust resistant. Even better, aluminum patio dining sets are so light that they’re easy to carry. They can look as intricate as wrought iron or austere and modern. Plastic outdoor furniture is by far the most affordable option, starting at only around fifty bucks for a patio set. While its looks won’t eclipse wood or metal patio dining sets generally, it’s inexpensive and rugged. Plastic outdoor furniture withstands all sorts of weather conditions, including the wettest, the hottest and the coldest.

Given the vast array of options available, there is almost certainly a patio set out there somewhere that is right for you.

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