SOURCE: Crate & Barrel
It’s backyard season and if you’re like me you’re preparing to dust off the outdoor furniture and move the party to the deck, the porch, the balcony, or anywhere else we can find some outdoor space. If you’re in the market for new furniture you may be thinking it’ll be a lot easier than buying indoor furniture. For the most part that’s true but you’re going to be facing one big question when you enter the outdoor furniture section of any retailer. Resin wicker vs metal? You may not have given this a second’s worth of thought until you walked into the store. To all of you out there sitting in your car frantically googling, you can relax. I’ve got all the information you need to make an educated purchase decision.
You’re going to want your furniture to last for a good long time so a little bit of research will get you the best products you can find. The most important aspects of deciding between resin wicker vs metal are:
Resin Wicker vs Metal – What to Consider
If you grew up with natural wicker you may be hesitant to consider this but rest assured, this new version of wicker is much more hearty. Resin wicker is a man-made plastic material made from PVC or polyethylene. It doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals so your family can feel good about it.
You won’t find any of the typical breaking, cracking or shedding that would occur with natural wicker as it aged. This new version is smooth and extremely water-resistant. You can wash it with soap and water or you can spray it with a hose but don’t forget to remove the cushions first!
Resin wicker is going to stand up well to water and chemicals from your pool but your cushions may not so you should still consider that. It’s also UV resistant but it can fade over the years if it’s left in direct sunlight for prolonged periods.
Resin wicker is reinforced with metal so it won’t collapse or lose its shape from regular wear and tear. The material itself is strong so with regular use you should have this furniture for a very long time.
SOURCE: Crate & Barrel
There are 2 types of aluminum used for outdoor furniture. Here are a few easy ways to tell which type you have. The price, the construction and the weight are all factors that differentiate them.
The first is hollow and super lightweight. It’s usually a series of hollow tubes that have been welded together to make the furniture. Occasionally it will be screwed together but either way, you’ll see that the pieces have been joined together after the tubes were constructed. This type of aluminum is considered inferior to the one below.
The second type is cast aluminum which is poured into a mold when it’s molten so that it forms larger pieces of furniture. You may still see seams where pieces have been molded together but in much larger pieces. For example, a chair back may have been attached to a seat base and then to the legs.
IMAGE: Rove Concepts
Resin furniture has a protective lacquer so it won’t suffer due to weather. You can feel confident that rain won’t damage it nor will it get moldy from rain. It has UV protection so it won’t suffer extreme sun damage although it can fade over time, especially if it’s in an uncovered area over the years.. It can withstand extreme temperatures but if you live in a snowy climate store it indoors over winter.
SOURCE: Pottery Barn
Aluminum is perfect for homes with moderate climates that don’t have storage for summer furniture. It can be left out and won’t rust but again, that wouldn’t apply to those of us living in snowy climates.
It can oxidize so be sure to clean it with mild soap and water if you see the colour change. This will help to restore its original finish.
Higher end aluminum furniture will likely be powder coated which protects the aluminum from oxidizing. It provides a really nice finish that won’t chip but it can scratch so it does require slightly more care. Powder coating can come in a wide variety of colours so if you like your furniture to be bold and fun, this is the direction you want to go.
SOURCE: Crate & Barrel
Resin wicker can be cleaned regularly by spraying it with a hose to remove dirt and debris.. If for whatever reason you’re needing to give the resin a good solid cleaning, you can bring it back to life with mild soap and water. If you are looking for an extremely low maintenance option you’ll love this.
Aluminum furniture is often a frame of aluminum accompanied by a lot of cushions because aluminum itself isn’t necessarily going to give you the comfort you want. There’s less to take care of than with a resin wicker piece but you do need to be more careful with it. Aluminum does get dirty and requires more frequent cleaning with soap and water.
The major consideration for maintaining aluminum is trying to avoid denting since it’s a lightweight material. Once it’s dented it can’t be repaired. Overall, minimal care is required to keep this looking new.
SOURCE: Pottery Barn
SOURCE: Restoration Hardware
Resin wicker comes in all styles, shapes and sizes. Chairs, sofas and love seats are usually designed with seat and back cushions that can be easily removed in really bad weather.
It’s not as contemporary or modern so options for urban dwellers are more limited. It also tends to be a bit bulkier than aluminum so if you only have a small space you’ll be more limited in your selections of resin wicker.
If portability is an issue, you’ll love resin wicker. Even the largest resin sofa is lightweight so it can be moved easily with 2 people.
If you’re a lover of modern or contemporary design, this is likely the best choice for your space as it’s usually designed to be sleek and contemporary. Just pay attention to the construction of the piece. While the cast aluminum looks luxurious there are some construction issues with the hollow core type that will leave the pieces looking a bit more lowbrow. If you need more help figuring out your design style, take my quiz.
Aluminum furniture is also lightweight and easy to move around. It does need to be stored indoors as well over the winter but usually takes up less space than its resin wicker counterpart.
Now you’re armed with all the information you need to go buy all the outdoor furniture you need for summer fun. What’s your preference in the resin wicker vs aluminum debate?
If you know your design style but you struggle with which paint to use, take a look at my Made-For-You paint palettes. They take the guesswork out and give you the confidence to get started.