Outdoor Patio Furniture: Choosing the Best Materials for All Seasons

Create gorgeous backyard patios you can enjoy year-round with the right kind of furniture

Credit: junkil

With durable materials, you can enjoy your outdoor patio furniture all year long

What could be cozier than sitting by the firepit on a quiet winter evening? With all-season outdoor patio furniture, you can

British Columbians love their outdoors – and we’re the envy of the rest of the country for the beauty and relatively temperate climate that come with West Coast living.

As a result, outdoor living spaces have become increasingly popular, with trends in garden furniture and patio designs supporting the outdoor lifestyle. Homeowners are reclaiming and redesigning their backyards and transforming them from summer-specific areas to year-round entertaining spaces.


The Evolution of Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor patio furniture has evolved dramatically in recent years, both in terms of style and durability. If you choose the right material, your outdoor garden patio furniture can last as long as your indoor furniture.

While some durable materials have been around for centuries, newer high-tech innovations provide modern environmentally friendly options. What they all have in common is the strength and durability to withstand the range of environmental conditions – rain, wind, snow, sleet and hail – BC weather can dish out.

Durable Fabrics Key to All-season Patio Designs

It’s best to invest more time and money in the “bones” of the outdoor living space and use accessories to accent and even change the look when desired. Remember that this is an investment, so think of patio design ideas that reflect your personal aesthetic.

The following options will provide you with years, if not decades, of backyard entertaining. Some are completely waterproof (perfect for the drizzly south coast), some are UV-protected (great for the sunny Okanagan) and others are substantially weighted (ideal of the windy north) – there’s a perfect set of outdoor furniture for every backyard in BC.

Wrought Iron

Flickr / larkspurlazui

Wrought iron furniture has always been a great option for outdoor patio furniture. A very traditional material that has retained its popularity for good reason, it’s a classic look that adds instant style to even the most casual settings.

Pros Cons
Extremely durable and weighty so will withstand high winds It’s heavy and may be cumbersome to move
Modern pieces are powder-coated so they’re weather resistant and it easy to maintain A chip in the powder coating will invite rust and other environmental damage
Provides a distinct look not matched by any other outdoor furniture material Regular re-painting is required to keep it rust-proof
  It’s a more expensive option


iStockphoto / pappamaart

Aluminum is an extremely popular all-round choice for patio furniture in BC. It’s also a top pick for restaurants, bars, hotels, pools – anywhere with high traffic. This is because aluminum furniture is relatively inexpensive, easy to move and store, and is available in a wide variety of styles and shapes. For many, it’s a choice material for creating patio ideas inexpensively and quickly.

Pros Cons
Often powder-coated so it won’t rust and
can be left outdoors
If the powder-coating is compromised, it will corrode
Lightweight and easy to maneuver Can be thrown easily in high winds
Easy to maintain and cleans easily with
soap and water
Extremely popular because it’s affordable, durable and attractive


iStockphoto / CapturedNuance

Of all the woods available for deck and patio ideas, many consider teak to be the ultimate choice. It’s a hardwood, luxurious in look and feel, and is naturally weather resistant – there’s a reason why the finest boat decks are often made of teak. This would be good choice for patio furniture in Vancouver.

Pros Cons
Naturally resists warping, splintering, rotting and swelling It’s very expensive due to slow growth and scarcity of trees
High content of silica makes it naturally resistant to fungus, mould and mildew It cannot be painted or stained (due to naturally occurring oils)
High resinous oil content preserves and protects the wood, making it naturally resistant to the effects of both rain and sun Requires regular oiling to maintain original colour
It will develop a beautiful silvery-grey patina with age (if left unoiled)                                                                                                                                            


iStockphoto / LaphotoguyFibreglass is still a relatively new concept in garden patio ideas, even though it’s used widely elsewhere around the home.

It’s composed of fine crystalline glass fibres, the same glass that’s used in traditional glassware and windows.

By extruding fine strands of glass, the threads can be woven together to form virtually any shape, including outdoor furniture.

Pros Cons
Very durable and extremely strong (as structurally strong as concrete) It’s extremely heavy and not meant to be moved frequently
Will not warp, rust, crack, corrode or shrink Requires occasional cleaning with protective wax
It’s non-porous so it’s waterproof and resists mould, mildew and dirt Not easily changeable; best for permanent features
Colours will not fade                              

Recycled High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

Flickr / limonada

If you’re looking for an innovative, environmentally friendly patio design idea, consider this new generation of materials. Made from #2 recyclable plastics (such as milk jugs), most furniture in this category contains 90% HDPE. The recycled post-consumer plastic waste is cleaned then compounded into rigid board stock material.

Pros Cons
Relatively maintenance-free and can be left outdoors in all weather conditions The material is plastic and will lack the warmth and sophistication of natural materials
Will not crack, splinter, warp or rot It’s not flexible and may not be comfortable for everyone
No need to paint or stain Cannot be painted or stained should your colour scheme change
Most are UV-stabilized so the colour won’t fade  
Will not promote bacterial growth or mildew  
Cleans easily with warm soap and water