Is Lazy Susan's outdoor furniture weatherproof?

We would assume that all furniture made for outdoor use is weatherproof but not all outdoor furniture materials are created equal. This month we want to take a closer look at how our cast aluminium range stands up to mother nature and the competition…

Most of the Outdoor Furniture sold in the UK is weatherproof. There is the odd exception which is better suited to occasional, summer room or conservatory use such as natural wicker, but the majority is constructed from materials that will stand up to the elements.

There is, however, very much a sliding scale under the term "weatherproof", from those that need very little in the way of maintenance to keep them protected to those that require an arduous level of upkeep to keep them that way.

There are also two schools of thought when it comes to maintenance too. Take a wooden garden bench as an example. Some of us will maintain its weather resistance by giving it a yearly sanding and a fresh coat of wood preservative/stain to keep it like new. Others will simply leave it to naturally weather to a silvery grey.

Unfortunately, no outdoor furniture is 100% maintenance-free though - no matter what the seller/manufacturer claims! Leave something outdoors for any length of time and mother nature will do her thing. 

Even if it is fully water and UV/fade-resistant, the wind and rain will eventually leave it covered in a film of dirt and grime. Throw in other factors such as birds, trees and us (who use it), and it will get dirty over time.

Here at Lazy Susan, we view our garden time as precious though. Between a busy lifestyle and the erratic UK climate, we have to grab every opportunity to sit outside on our patios or light up the BBQ that we can. A sunny day is often followed by rain, if not all on the same day.

Our decision to use cast aluminium as the core material for our collection was one made from research, not opportunity. We took our time to evaluate which material was best suited to the UK climate. We wanted to have our cake and eat it so to speak. We wanted our outdoor furniture to be both weatherproof and low maintenance!

Are you looking for new outdoor furniture?

At first read - “Is outdoor furniture weatherproof?” - sounds a bit of a silly question, be it Lazy Susan’s cast aluminium range or any other material. However, we think it is not only a valid question but one we (as consumers) should be asking more.

Early spring is one of the best times to source new outdoor furniture, retailers are well-stocked and there’s plenty of time to get the product shipped and on your patio for the start of summer. But when it comes to purchasing new, it always pays to make an informed choice.

In our experience, a sunny day panic buy is often quickly replaced. A considered purchase on the other hand will transform your patio, taking your garden from plot to outdoor living space.

Now of course looks, style, comfort, size, shape, etc are all critical questions you need answering to make that informed decision. However, the one that is most misunderstood or unclear when purchasing new outdoor furniture is which materials are weatherproof and therefore best suited to the UK climate? 

Are you looking for new outdoor furniture?

For us though, just as important as weather resistance is which material will require the least maintenance to keep it that way when left outside on our patios all year round.

Well, that is what we want to explore in detail in this article. Is metal, wood, rattan or plastic furniture best suited to the UK patio? 

At Lazy Susan, we have significant experience in this field, we have in the past sold other materials such as steel and rattan, so we have picked the brains of our product development team to analyse the science and establish why we think cast aluminium offers the best all-round weather-resistance for UK gardens.

Is Lazy Susan’s outdoor furniture 100% weatherproof?

When talking about weatherproof or weather-resistance in relation to Outdoor Furniture, it is important to stress that we are talking about more than just the sun and rain. 

Every garden is different and a host of factors such as location, aspect and exposure will factor into what that furniture will be up against.

For example, is it north or south facing? Is the garden enclosed? Are you surrounded by trees or buildings? Do you live on the coast or in a city? All of these micro-climate factors will also have a big impact on the level or type of rain, sun, wind, etc in your garden.

At Lazy Susan our furniture is designed with this in mind though, and we have created a range that is designed specifically for the (not so) Great British weather.

Now, of course, we can’t do an article of this sort without mentioning the rain. Talking about it is a British obsession. Our climate is heavily influenced by our proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream/North Atlantic Drift, which is what brings all those lovely rain clouds to our shores. 

On average, in a year, we can see a range of between 800 mm to 1,400 mm of rainfall and that will fall for a staggering (although maybe not unsurprising) 159 days per year.

Is Lazy Susan’s outdoor furniture 100% weatherproof?

As stated in our opening salvo, most outdoor furniture sold in the UK is weatherproof but not all materials are fully waterproof. 

What that means is that they will often require additional protection to prevent moisture from being absorbed. 100% weatherproof is achieved when you have that combination of durable core material and a protective coating.

All materials if not maintained will degrade over time too. Even resins which are fully water resistant will fade/discolour if left exposed to the sun. Wood on the other hand will need to be re-stained/coated to prevent it from rotting or splitting. 

The advantage we have with aluminium over other materials (even other metals) is that it will not rust. We apply a durable painted finish to not only make it look good but to protect the raw metal, giving us a fully weatherproof finish.

If we were to leave the raw aluminium unpainted and exposed to the elements, a thin layer of oxidised material would form on the surface (like chalky dust) and this is a form of self-defence. Unsightly but not detrimental to the metal.

Other metals such as iron would eventually corrode but it is the oxidisation process that makes aluminium a great choice of core material.

Combine it with our tough painted finish, and our collection comprises pieces that are designed to be left outside all year round without the need for any additional protection applied or extensive maintenance required, say for an occasional wash with warm soapy water and maybe a little car wax to give it a nice lustre.

Is Lazy Susan’s outdoor furniture 100% weatherproof?

Our furniture will generally be more expensive than a Home/DIY-store timber or resin equivalent but that initial outlay will provide better long-term value for money. You're removing the high yearly maintenance costs of wood (both time and money) or the need to replace it after a few years with plastic pieces.

Are other types of metal outdoor furniture weatherproof?

Other metals such as steel and wrought iron are also popular in the UK outdoor furniture industry but how do they stack up against cast aluminium when it comes to weather resistance?

All three will provide a high degree of durability and they can all be cast, whereby decorative shapes are created by pouring molten metal into a mould.

The big difference is that iron and steel are both ferrous alloys, while aluminium is a non-ferrous alloy. Ferrous basically means that the metal contains iron (Fe). Steel is also an iron-based alloy and iron contains carbon. It is that carbon content that makes them vulnerable to rust when exposed to the elements.

All are waterproof and all are usually protected with a painted coating to prevent the core metal from corroding. The problems will start if that painted coating is compromised. If you ignore a chip or scratch on your aluminium furniture it will be OK but still best touched up asap. If you ignore it on steel or iron and you could quickly see blistering paint or orange staining and then it could be too late.

Most metal garden furniture sold in the UK tends to be powder-coated, which is the painting process we apply to our furniture, and it is where a dry powdered paint is applied electrostatically and cured to create a tough durable finish.

Lazy Susan Outdoor Furniture Screw-In Feet Pads

This makes our Outdoor Furniture very difficult to chip. We also supply all our tables and chairs with plastic screw-in feet pads (above) which further protect the metal as you move it about on your patio. However, if you did get a chip or scratch it is easily repaired with our Touch Up Paint.

Is wood outdoor furniture weatherproof?

As a natural material, wooden outdoor furniture has a beautiful timeless appeal. However, when it comes to weather resistance it is very much a case of you get what you pay for. 

The cheaper softwoods such as pine will offer a very low level of weather resistance, while the more expensive slow-grown hardwoods such as teak are much better suited to the UK climate. They have a tighter grain and higher oil content that makes them significantly better water and rot-resistant than the quickly-grown softwoods but, of course, that comes at a cost.

Is wood outdoor furniture weatherproof?

That said, all timbers, even teak will require extensive maintenance to keep them looking good and weatherproof. Even with regular maintenance, cheaper woods such as pine are still prone to moisture absorption so can easily fade, split and warp no matter what you do.

Wooden garden furniture is weatherproof it just takes more effort to keep it looking good and protected from the elements. If you choose it over cast aluminium, then our advice is to make sure you go for a hardwood such as teak, eucalyptus or acacia that is FSC certified to ensure it's from a responsibly managed forest.

Is rattan and wicker furniture weatherproof?

If you are purchasing wicker-style woven furniture for use in your garden then it is important that, in our opinion, you purchase the modern poly-rattans. 

Natural rattans are beautiful to look at, and whilst they are water resistant, they are not weatherproof. In the UK where we see a combination of wind, sun, snow and rain, it can make the vines brittle causing them to split, so natural wicker outdoor furniture is better suited to conservatories and sun rooms.

The poly-rattans will give you a similar effect but replace the natural rattan with a synthetic woven plastic. It is fully moisture-resistant and designed for outdoor use.

Is rattan and wicker furniture weatherproof?

However, in our experience as an ex-seller, whilst as low maintenance as metal, it is prone to splitting and can fade in the sun.

Again, as with wood, you tend to find the more you pay the better the quality though. Some of the budget poly-rattan furniture can be poorly constructed but the high-end sets better replicate the weave of natural rattans.

And whilst the plastic is weatherproof, it is important that the frame itself if constructed from a weatherproof metal too. Some of the budget sets we’ve seen sold in the UK use an uncoated steel frame that would quickly rust so they're simply not fit for purpose. 

Your safest option is to make sure that poly-rattan is woven over a painted/powder-coated cast aluminium frame as this will give you better weather resistance and it will be easier to pick up and move should you need to.

Is HDPE outdoor furniture weatherproof?

HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) is the go-to material for modern resin outdoor furniture in the UK. The term plastic for the older among us brings to mind old off-white lawn chairs but it has made significant strides in recent years, both in terms of its environmental impact and in the style stakes.

Much is now made from recycled plastics and, with the addition of dyes and treatments, now comes in a wide array of fab colours and textures. It definitely lends itself to some wonderful minimal modern pieces.

Is HDPE outdoor furniture weatherproof?

Our criticism of this material would be that it can still look and feel a little cheap, and whilst it is weatherproof, we still see issues with UV resistance and long-term exposure will cause it to fade/become brittle. 

However, the biggest disadvantage it has is weight. Whilst our cast aluminium furniture is light enough to pick up and move, it is still substantial to stand up to a gust of wind. Plastic will blow over and it is easily scuffed and almost impossible to repair.

What is the best outdoor furniture material for the UK climate?

In the UK we can see 4-seasons in one day so our outdoor furniture has to be able to withstand all that mother nature will throw it, especially if you want to leave it on your patio all year round. 

Sun, wind, rain, snow, it will need to stand up to them all. Nothing is stormproof mind, so if there are any amber or red warnings with high winds forecast, then be proactive. 

Also, we’re an island, many of us live on the coast, our HQ is only about 500 m from the sea as the crow flies. All that extra salt in the air can play havoc with your garden furniture, so you definitely need something with a painted protective finish such as our cast aluminium.

And because we do see a lot of temperature swings and rainfall, you need a material that will not absorb moisture and is susceptible to splitting/warping.

Due to all the wind we get, you don’t want it too light that it’ll easily blow over, but not too heavy that it can’t be moved to a more sheltered part of the garden if a storm blows in.

These are the factors we need to consider but that many of us ignore in favour of style. The substance is just as important, especially if you want to keep those stylish good looks for many summers to come.

What is the best outdoor furniture material for the UK climate?

Our opinion on which material we think is best for the UK climate is pretty evident. However, that opinion is backed up, and most importantly it is the reason we have chosen to sell that material in the UK.

All materials have their pros and cons but rust-resistant aluminium is the best all-rounder. It is fully weatherproof, low maintenance, and best suited to the erratic climate in the UK.

The high-grade cast aluminium that we use in the construction of our garden furniture range gives us furniture that is both beautifully crafted and maintenance-free.

We feel that we have developed a range that not only looks great on your patio but is designed to stand up to the elements, and live at the heart of your garden for many years. 

Our outdoor furniture is constructed from high-grade sand-cast aluminium that’s powder-coated to produce a beautiful yet highly durable finish. It won’t rust or rot and can be left outside, uncovered, even through winter (but covering it is a great way to keep it clean and ready to use if you've nowehere to store it).

It is, in our humble opinion, the best weatherproof outdoor furniture money can buy!

If you have any photos of our weatherproof Outdoor Furniture in your garden, then we’d love to see a few snaps for our Do Some Good charity campaign. We don’t even mind if it is covered in snow or pouring with rain. You can tag us @LazySusanFurniture on Instagram or Facebook or email them to us at [email protected].

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