Any type of furniture is an investment, and your outdoor furniture is no exception! If chosen well, yours can be enjoyed for many years.

In addition to knowing the styles you like, you need to choose materials and finishes that work best with the environment where you live.

For example, if you live near the beach or in a rainy place, avoid wood and metal because wood can rot and metal can rust.

On the other hand, wood or metal could look beautiful and lost much longer in drier climates.

Choosing the best materials and finishes for your outdoor furniture will ensure that you get the most out of your outdoor living spaces.

This guide can help you find the best options for your climate, style and home.

Steel dining set on a wood plank patio

1. Steel

Steel is a popular material for outdoor furniture due to its durability and style. It’s sturdy but lightweight compared to wood. It’s also low-maintenance — a big plus!

High-quality steel furniture, if maintained, can last 20 years or more. If it outlives its usefulness, it is usually easy to sell or donate as long as it’s in good condition.


  • Strong
  • Durable
  • Lighter than wood


  • Some people dislike the feel of steel
  • Can rust, depending on the quality

Care Tips: Mix a squirt of dishwashing detergent with a bucket of warm water and scrub the surface with a scrub brush.

Then rinse the furniture and allow to dry.

You can use a wire brush or sandpaper to remove any rusted spots down to the bare metal. Wipe off any metal residue with a clean cloth dampened with mineral spirits or naphtha.

Wicker sofa on a wood plank patio

2. Wicker

Wicker is a timeless outdoor style. It’s versatile — perfect for outdoor or indoor décor — and can withstand some rain here and there. But if you live in a very wet region, it may not be the best choice.

Since wicker is lightweight, it’s also not ideal for windier places. However, if you move often or are in an apartment where you may only stay for a little while, wicker is ideal because it is easy to store and durable enough to withstand being battered a little in a move.


  • Classic style
  • Lightweight
  • Suitable for most climates


  • Not good for very wet environments
  • Can blow around in strong winds

Care Tips: Vacuum your wicker furniture to remove dust before washing it with soapy water and a soft brush. Let dry completely (about two to three days) before using the furniture.

Aluminum furniture on a wood plank patio

3. Aluminum

Aluminum is a popular choice for contemporary outdoor furniture. It’s more resistant to water damage than other metals or wood, and it’s easy to move around as needed, which comes in handy for bigger items such as picnic tables or outdoor swings.

However, aluminum furniture is prone to oxidation. To prevent oxidation, apply a coat of automotive paste wax to the surface, allow the wax to dry for a few minutes, remove the residue and polish the surface with a clean cloth.


  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Versatile
  • Highly resistant to rust


  • Some people dislike the feel of aluminum
  • Some lightweight pieces may not withstand strong winds

Care Tips:

Oxidation is the biggest concern with aluminum furniture. You can remove light oxidation by rubbing the surface with a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water.

Or you can rub the surface with automotive rubbing or polishing compound to abrade away oxidation.

Or you can clean the surface with dishwashing detergent and water using a plastic scrubbing sponge or very fine steel wool. Try this first on a hidden area to see if it scratches the aluminum.

For all options, rinse off the cleaning solution with a garden hose and allow to dry.

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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