Patio furniture is essential for any outdoor set up, though one of the biggest drawbacks is for people who have a space that is open to immense levels of sunlight. After spending potentially hundreds of dollars on a brand-new patio set, the absolute last thing you want to worry about is those deadly UV rays destroying your new purchase. To help you figure out which materials may be better than others, and tips to help you keep your furniture protected from the sun. We were able to collect the following information.
The best material option for patio furniture for full sun is High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) lumber that includes UV-resistant inhibitors. POLYWOOD is the most popular brand option on the market as it is resistant to all weather conditions and is easy to care for.
Table of Contents
- What to Consider When Buying Patio Furniture for Full Sun?
- 5 Best Patio Furniture Materials for Full Sun
- How to Prevent Fabric from Fading in the Sun?
- Final Thoughts
What to Consider When Buying Patio Furniture for Full Sun?
Sun UV Damage
One important factor to consider when buying patio furniture for full sun exposure is knowing exactly how much UV protection the item carries. Each item, and each material used to make the item, will be able to handle different amounts of sun exposure.
Understanding the differences is essential, and there is a plethora of accessories available to help keep any fabric protected from the sun.
HEAT – Will it burn me?
Also, consider how hot the product is going to get if left out in the sun. While the exterior of the furniture may be able to handle the strong UV rays, your body may not. Most materials that are used for patio furniture have a tendency to heat up if left in the sun all day, and so understand that you should be aware of the heat the product is likely to absorb.
This could be something as simple as for comfort, but also for safety. As sometimes they can heat up to extreme temperatures where you could seriously burn yourself if you’re not careful.
As with any purchase, the price is potentially the most vital aspect. You have to assess what materials match your current set up, space, lifestyle etc. And above all else understand that while you should not feel forced to step outside of your budget (as that’s what it’s there for).
Keep in mind that sometimes by stepping a little bit outside of your price range, you could be saving yourself more money, time, and convenience down the road.
5 Best Patio Furniture Materials for Full Sun
1. HDPE Lumber
High-Density Polyethylene (HPDE) is one of the most widely used forms of plastic because of its lightweight, strong, and weather resistance. That is why it deserves its very own spot on this list. Genuine Polywood lumber is made with a blend of HPDE plastics, including recycled milk jugs, and detergent bottles. For this reason, Polywood lumber does not contain wood or natural fibers, which is part of the reason why it is so widely used as a wood alternative in the outdoor furniture world. You will also see HDPE lumber in our longest-lasting outdoor furniture article under the plastics section.
HDPE is a tremendously versatile material, and it’s actually most commonly used for personal care products like shampoo containers, and for food and beverage storage (milk jugs). This material is built for premium durability and is built to look great despite years of use and exposure to the outdoor elements. Polywood lumber specifically is also renowned because it won’t chip or rot, and is super easy to clean using simple household items like warm water, dish soap, and a soft cloth. One amazing feature with HPDE plastics and Polywood lumber is that the majority of the furniture is backed by a 20-year residential warranty, and requires no painting, staining, or waterproofing.
In my opinion, the best HDPE Lumber furniture out there for your patio today is called Polywood. This stuff is made to hold up against the direct sunlight and all sorts of weather. It has UV-inhibiting formula that limits fading in direct sun. Furthermore, the best thing is the huge selection of patio furniture options they offer. For example, check out their full 7 piece dining set on Amazon that will last a lifetime.
2. Teak Wood
Teak wood is another very popular/durable material when looking at outdoor furniture vs the sun, as it remains as the hardest, most durable, and strongest of the hardwoods. It has been used to build ships since the middle ages, and is still being used today for a variety of purposes, and is still the main source for materials used for high-end yachts and boats.
Teak wood is fully weather-resistant and is one of the few kinds of wood in the world that contains a natural oil that repels water, keeping it from warping, cracking, or becoming brittle.
Any outdoor furniture used with teak wood is made to withstand the harsh effects of hard rains, severe winter storms, or broiling sun. Teak wood is also pest resistant, as the same resins and oils that protect against weather, can also repel insects and termites. Teak wood is also extremely low maintenance, as for it’s high oil content that is made so that it will fade to a balanced color over time, that won’t look patchy or black. Creating a more natural, yet rustic look, with no need for additional stains, paints, or varnish.
One potential deterrent for Teak Wood is the high price tag, as it presents one of the more expensive alternatives on the market. But its classy and rick look is well worth it. There is a similar-looking option, but not as durable as teak and it is called acacia wood. Acacia wood furniture provides the teak wood look at affordable prices, while still holding up for quite sometime.
Aluminum patio furniture is another solid alternative, as it illustrates an option that is durable, stylish, and low-maintenance. The good news with aluminum patio furniture is that it is all rust-free, making it ideal for areas that are wet or salty. There are two kinds of aluminum furniture (hollow aluminum and cast aluminum), with cast aluminum being the premium option, both in terms of price and quality.
It is the most popular metal for outdoor furniture, and even though it’s extremely durable, strong, and lightweight, it can be worked into a variety of intricate shapes. Aluminum is also relatively inexpensive, low-maintenance, and never rusts.
The one downside to aluminum is that much like other metals, aluminum can heat up easily in the direct sun, so it’s best to have seat cushions to help keep you cool and comfortable. The sun doesn’t cause physical damages to the aluminum, so having the proper cushions as I mentioned will make a great durable patio furniture option.
Wicker has been used for outdoor furniture for years, and for good reason as it is surprisingly durable and resistant to certain weather conditions. Nearly all outdoor wicker furniture is made from synthetic polyethylene resin, and natural wicker is made from a variety of organic sources like rattan, seagrass, bamboo, banana leaf, and even willow.
Even though these materials are aesthetically pleasing, and wicker that is plant-based will be more susceptible to damage from extreme weather conditions. High-quality resin on the other hand is very dense, UV resistant, weather-resistant, and eco-friendly. Synthetic all-weather wicker is also very strong, lightweight, and fade resistant, and is typically made with an aluminum frame for additional support.
While wicker furniture is extremely weather-resistant, easy to clean, and natural-looking, they are typically not very heavy, and so are more susceptible to blowing around during high winds.
There are certain plastics, such as the aforementioned HDPE, that are made with recycled plastic, and won’t peel, crack, or require much of any maintenance. However, there are other plastics that can also provide exceptional value, depending on the circumstances. Polyethylene (PE) is the most common form of plastic for outdoor furniture because it’s fairly priced and convenient. Polypropylene (PP) is lighter weight and is highly resistant to chemical degradation, and heat.
Polycarbonate (PC) is another very tough plastic material that is impact-resistant, and though it’s more prone to scratches, it’s generally the preferred choice of plastic when transparency is desired. Acrylic-Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) is similar to polycarbonate due to it’s transparency, but it is typically less expensive and is not as strong.
A big con with many plastic materials is that outside of the HDPE, the majority of them are not nearly as durable as other materials mentioned throughout this article. They are also far lighter than other materials, and are therefore not ideal for windy conditions. However, looking at plastic vs the sun, they may fade but overall can handle UV rays quite well. Keep in mind cheap plastic furniture is never a good idea, avoid the cheapest of the cheap if possible. You get what you pay for, right?
How to Prevent Fabric from Fading in the Sun?
Investing in a good-quality furniture cover can make a dramatic difference when it comes to protecting the longevity of the fabric of the furniture. While it may seem unnecessary and counterintuitive to cover up your newly bought patio set, it can go a long way in protecting it from the sun, increasing the lifespan of the product. Covers are perfect because you can easily take them on or off when you’re having company over, and can also help prevent damage due to dirt, dust, and spills.
Placing Furniture in Sun Free Location
Location is debatably the most important aspect when considering how to keep it from fading under the blistering sun. Obviously, a simple solution would be to move it into a place with ideal shade (canopy, gazebo, etc.), but while this may not always be an option, you should try to keep it in a location that does not see a ton of sun.
Avoid Using Fabric Furniture All Together!
The final recommendation if you are truly concerned about the sun ruining your furniture is to invest in material outside of the fabric. There are a plethora of comfortable materials that can provide more durability, and can withstand the sun’s heat. Be sure to keep an eye out for other alternatives that carry superior UV resistance.
When it comes down to trying to figure out which materials are best for full sun exposure, there are certainly a variety of considerations. All of the materials commonly associated with patio furniture like HDPE lumber, Teak Wood, Wicker, Aluminum, and other plastics all carry certain advantages and disadvantages.
The most important thing is for you to take the time to understand your individual situation and match accordingly. At the end of the day, so long as you are fully educated on the differences in the materials mentioned, you should have no problem finding the right solution for you!
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.