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Which Garden Furniture Material is Best for You?

Words by Emma Hughes

June 04, 2023



Which Garden Furniture Material is Best for You?

When choosing the best garden furniture for your outdoor space, material is an important factor. From timeless rattan to modern metal, there’s a huge variety of options on the market.

But the good news is – this handy guide will help you make the right decision!

Whatever your priorities may be, assessing the benefits of each garden furniture material is a great place to start. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons for the following…




Wood is born outside, so it makes sense that it’s a top choice for your garden furniture. Wooden garden furniture is great if a natural look and feel is important to you. But it’s also incredibly resilient and hardwearing.

You may find there’s more opportunity to discover unique and imaginative designs with wooden garden furniture too. For example our stunning Vigo dining set features a beautifully carved table and shapely chairs with ergonomically curved backrests.

The markings, colourings and grains of wood lend that extra dose of unique character, which synthetic materials like metal or resin just aren’t able to. The feeling that your piece is one of a kind means you’ll want to hold onto your furniture for longer, taking care to look after it and being less tempted by fleeting trends.

Regarded as one of the best wood choices for outdoor furniture, teak is loved for its natural strength and resistance to the elements. Teak garden furniture is known to age beautifully, so you needn’t worry about it looking shabby after a season in the sun.

We offer a wide choice of high-quality teak garden furniture, from outdoor kitchen units to stunning benches and chairs by luxury brands like Cane Line and Barlow Tyrie.


  • Natural, warm and unique beauty
  • Different woods and finishes to choose from
  • Can be painted or upcycled over time
  • Resistant to rot and insects
  • Works well with other materials, such as metal
  • Cons

  • May be heavy and difficult to move
  • Some woods require regular maintenance
  • May be bulky and take up a lot of space
  • May be less comfortable
  • Rattan

    Probably the first type that comes to mind when you picture garden furniture, rattan brings a quintessentially British look to your outdoor space. But there’s more than one reason it’s so highly regarded.

    Today’s variations of rattan garden furniture tend to be crafted from a synthetic resin weave, rather than natural wicker. The resin is specially treated to help it withstand life outdoors, which means it’s less prone to unravelling, mould, water damage, sun damage, and much more! It can be easily cleaned too, and feels much smoother against the skin than wicker.

    It’s incredibly lightweight too, which means it can be moved around and stored away without much effort. Don’t be fooled by this though – our rattan furniture is wrapped around high-strength aluminium frames for long-lasting quality.

    We offer a wide choice of finishes at Barker and Stonehouse – grey rattan garden furniture ranges from delicate dove grey to rich charcoal, while brown rattan garden furniture comes in light beige tones as well as deeper chocolate hues.


  • Lightweight, for easy transportation and storage
  • Resistant to UV rays, water damage and more
  • Timeless style, choice of colours
  • Tempered glass tops for safety
  • Cons

  • The weave may unravel and need fixing
  • Debris may get stuck between the weave
  • Must be secured during high winds
  • Cushions need to be stored away to avoid damage
  • Doesn’t lend itself to mixing and matching
  • Aluminium

    While aluminium is also used for the frames of our rattan ranges, we do offer a range of sleek and modern pieces that make their metalwork the main event.

    Aluminium garden furniture is hailed for its durability and strength, specially coated to prevent rusting and protect it against the elements. It’s also a sustainable option, as aluminium is one of the few materials that can be infinitely recycled. In fact, our Terra Sustainable Garden Set is entirely recyclable – from its frame to its cushion fillings.

    Very on trend, one of the main selling points of aluminium garden furniture is its contemporary appearance. But unlike rattan and wood, you’ll generally be looking at a monochrome colour palette – usually grey, black or white. You can easily dress up your outdoor furniture with cushions, throws and rugs if you like a little more colour though.

    In terms of drawbacks, one of the key things to consider is how aluminium reacts in extreme temperatures. You may need to be careful with armrests when your furniture has been in scorching sunlight, and equally, they may feel cold in cooler climates.


  • Sleek and modern look
  • Can be very compact and slim
  • Sustainable and recyclable
  • Works well with other materials, such as wood
  • Easy to wipe clean, no treatments needed
  • Cons

  • May corrode overtime if not looked after properly
  • Gets hot in sunlight and cold in cooler climates
  • Dents and scratches may be more noticeable
  • Limited choice of colours
  • Recycled Plastic

    Another sustainable choice – our unique range of recycled plastic garden furniture repurposes materials that would otherwise end up in landfill. The collection features colourful, hardwearing pieces like tables, chairs and loungers.

    Offering a fun and playful aesthetic, these pieces are simple in design, yet bring a vibrant feel to your garden. Super lightweight, they can be easily lifted and repositioned – perfect for chasing the sun! You’ll also find our recycled plastic garden furniture is fairly compact, suiting smaller spaces such as patios and balconies.

    In terms of comfort – recycled plastic sets don’t usually come with cushions, so they may not feel or look as luxurious as other types of garden furniture. However, the seats are specially moulded to offer support where you need it. The material is surprisingly smooth as well, so you needn’t worry about rough surfaces or snagging. This makes for easy cleaning – simply wipe over with a damp cloth as needed.


  • Environmentally friendly
  • Wipe clean
  • Available in a range of colours
  • Lightweight
  • Mix and match aesthetic
  • Compact, suitable for small spaces
  • Cons

  • Usually don’t come with cushions
  • May blow around in high winds
  • Generally only available in simple designs
  • May fade or lose colour over time
  • May not be considered luxurious
  • Alternative options

    As well as the main contenders, we also offer a variety of occasional outdoor furniture in a wide choice of looks and finishes – such as lightweight stools in colourful fiberglass, trendy rope weave chairs and solid concrete tables. But let’s save those for another day.

    Garden furniture care

    Whatever material you go for, the best way to ensure you can love it for many years is to follow the relevant care instructions. Read our comprehensive garden furniture care guide for more information on the do’s and don’ts of each material.

    Don’t forget to protect your furniture with a high-quality outdoor furniture cover when not in use, and ensure your cushions stay clean and dry in a stylish outdoor storage box.

    Frequently asked questions

    What is the best garden furniture to leave outside?

    Most garden furniture will fare well outside, as long as it is properly covered and secured. Aluminium and rattan are designed to withstand the elements all year round, however any seat cushions should also be stored away somewhere watertight, not beneath a furniture cover. Take care with wooden furniture – some types such as teak require plenty of ventilation, and are better off stored inside.

    What garden furniture does not rust?

    Aluminium is the best metal for garden furniture. When finished with a powder coating, it will not rust. However care must be taken to attend to any scratches or damage which could allow water inside, as this can cause corrosion over time. If purchasing rattan or resin wicker furniture, you should opt for something with aluminium frames.

    What is the lowest maintenance outdoor furniture material?

    Aluminium furniture simply requires wiping down as needed, and any sets with glass table tops can be easily cleaned too. Possibly the most high-maintenance element of outdoor furniture sets are the seat cushions, however most are removable and fast-drying, so they can be spot cleaned with a damp cloth. If you don’t have the space for storing cushions away, perhaps consider a recycled plastic furniture set, which requires very little attention at all.

    Looking for more inspiration?

    Now that you’re equipped with everything you need to know about the best outdoor furniture materials, take a look at our other helpful garden guides for more inspiration:

    Find the perfect pieces to suit your space in our full range of high-quality garden furniture, handpicked for their fine materials, fabulous looks and functionality.

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