It is hard to believe but summer has officially started and we will soon be preparing our outdoor patios and spaces for July 4thcelebrations. Time is now of the essence.

It is time evaluate your space and see what it is you will need to create a more engaging and comfortable living space. The term evaluate has many meanings. First, take time to sit in your furniture. For many of us it might have been a year since we had the opportunity to recline or rock in our favorite outdoor chair. Be prepared, anything can happen. Last week, I discovered the entire synthetic woven back of one of our rockers had dry and cracked from the direct Hawaii sun. Before I could even sit down I quickly found myself in a reclining position have way to the concrete. Next, check the springs or glider functionality and see if it needs a tune up or perhaps a spritz of WD40. Don’t forget to check your party umbrellas. Over the winter they have a tendency to mildew and might need a little elbow grease to get them back to new. Lastly, examine your cushions. Are they clean and free of stains?

Did you know July 4thweek starts the official first hard markdowns on many outdoor furniture and accessories at many retailers? If you have had any challenges (like myself) you may find yourself ready to commit and invest in new outdoor furniture.

There are so many options available on the market today. Outdoor furniture is made from a variety of natural and manufactured materials. Most clients are looking for patio furniture that is built to last and looks fresh and new for years to come. It is also important that it stays attractive despite exposure to the elements, and is easy to maintain. Some materials are more durable than others while many withstand exposure to the elements better. In order to make the best purchasing decision, you should investigate the characteristics of each type of material. It is imperative to pay close attention to the pros and cons of each. Some may be more resistant to wind or rain, while others will last longer in sunshine or heat.

The four main types of materials used in the manufacture of patio furniture include plastic, wood, wicker, and metal. Plastic is usually the least expensive option. Plastic furniture is highly portable, it can be made from recycled materials, and chairs can be stacked for storage. Unfortunately plastic is not always the most aesthetically pleasing option. It can be cleaned with soapy water and a scrubbing brush (if needed), making it easy to care for and maintain. Plastic can be shaped, molded, and colored into just about any design, making it a good choice for those who want something different.

Patio furniture comes in a wide variety of wood types as well and can be used if one wants a warmer, more casual and natural look. Popular wood types include pine, teak, cedar, redwood and eucalyptus. Hardwoods tend to be more durable and long-lasting, with teak lasting up to 50 years, and redwood lasting up to 25 years. Treating wood with special oils and sealants will increase its lifespan significantly.

Softwoods like cedar and pressure treated pine, although not as durable as hardwoods will last for several years outdoors. Unfortunately, untreated pine has low resistance to rot and it is recommended that it be painted or sealed and stored indoors during winter months. Another advantage of wood is that it does not hold the sun’s heat.

Wicker can be natural or synthetic and gives an outdoor area a cozy or rustic look. This woven wood is durable, but lightweight. Wicker furniture can be made from cane, rattan, bamboo, or a number of other materials. Outdoor sets are usually made from synthetics in order to increase weather resistance and durability.

Wrought iron looks best in a formal and classic setting. It is a strong, durable material, and furniture designs range from traditional to contemporary. It is very heavy and will not tip over or blow away easily, making it a great choice for windy environments. This type of metal does require some care to prevent rust and increase corrosion resistance. It can be painted to both create a different look and to improve its resistance to corrosion. Some disadvantages of iron furniture are that it gets quite warm in direct sunlight. It can also be very cold on cooler days. A simple solution to both challenges is to utilize outdoor cushions. More robust fabrics should be used outdoors, and cushions should be put away after use. Wrought iron furniture can be left outdoors year-round, provided it is cared for properly.

Aluminum will not fade or rust if it has been coated with a powder-coat finish. This metal is usually used in contemporary, streamlined designs. It requires less maintenance than steel or wrought iron. Unfortunately this is a more expensive material and high-end sets can be pricey. However, aluminum is corrosion resistant and can survive outside for extended periods.

After you have committed to the furniture and have it delivered, it is now time to create your ideal outdoor living space and prepare for that July 4thcookout that everyone will be talking about until next year.

David Brown
Mulberry Seed Design