While these images are understandable, you should realize that like most things, metal outdoor furniture has come a long way. There are now significantly more materials that make up metal outdoor furniture, more styles, a better selection, and quality.
Rather than think of metal outdoor furniture as a poor option for outdoor furniture, let's take a look at why it is now a great option for your outdoor living spaces.
First, let's take a look at the construction methods of today's metal outdoor furniture. To put it simply, metal is fashioned into furniture in one of four ways: extrusion, casting, forging or welding. So, what does this mean? Extrusion is how the aluminum sun chairs of your past are formed. Basically melted metal is forced through long pipes and forms long narrow tubes of metal, sometimes solid, but often hollow. Casting metal is how dutch ovens are usually made, and this type of metal forming involves a cast, shaped like the finished product that molten metal is poured into. After the metal has solidified, it is taken out of the mold. Cast pieces are almost always solid. Forging, is a process in which metal is heated and hammered into shape. This is the process that produces the “wrought" metal furniture. Welding is also used in this process, welding basically takes pipes and various solid pieces of the metal and joins them together by welding or bolting.
Now that we know how metal outdoor furniture is formed, let's take a look at some of the common materials used in these processes. The most common metal outdoor furniture is made from iron or aluminium, although the use of steel, especially stainless steel, is growing. Iron is common, but not the best choice. It is a chemical element that is naturally malleable and rusts easily, so for outdoor use it needs a lot of maintenance. Modern iron outdoor furniture pieces will have a rust-resistant finish or coating that protects against chipping, scratching and corrosion, so if iron is the material you want for your outdoor furniture, be sure it has a rust proof finish. There are a variety of finishes available such as primer and paint, powder coatings and galvanizing. Iron is a great metal outdoor furniture choice for windy spots since iron is heavy and solid. Most iron furniture is made of wrought iron, so look for solid metal rather than hollow tubing, and better quality is welded, rather than bolted, together. Iron furniture requires more maintenance than other types of metal furniture.
Aluminum is another popular metal for metal outdoor furniture. Aluminum is a silvery, lightweight and easily worked metallic element. It has the advantage that this type of metal never rusts. Most aluminum furniture of the past was made with hollow tubing, and because of its inability to withstand wind, it got a bad name, however, you can get cast aluminum, which is better used in outdoor dining or sitting areas. Aluminum is great if you can find a quality piece of furniture. So, look for the following, joints should be welded rather than bolted. It should have a powder-coated finish. Powder coating is a process in which colorful polyester powders are applied and then baked onto the frame, it makes it more durable, and can add color to the furniture. If the piece you buy has an aluminum frame and vinyl webbing, look for vinyl that has been processed with mildew inhibitors and ultraviolet stabilizers.
Steel, is your next option for metal outdoor furniture. Steel is a hard tough metal, that is an alloy of iron. The alloys produce hardness and resistance to rusting. Galvanized steel has been plated with zinc; stainless steel has been alloyed with chromium and is virtually immune to rust and corrosion. When purchasing steel outdoor furniture, be sure that it is either stainless or powder-coated and that any hardware used is also rust-resistant.
Metal outdoor furniture is a great choice for those outdoor living spaces if you can choose wisely, and know how to properly take care of it.
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