If you've ever shopped for outdoor furniture, you've probably noticed the fairly wide variety of materials it can be constructed from. Each material has pros and cons, of course. Maybe you've heard that aluminum furniture is the way to go but have some reservations about what a wet climate might do to the metal. Will aluminum patio furniture rust? We consulted numerous furniture manufacturers about their aluminum products to give you a definitive answer.
Aluminum patio furniture technically rusts, but not in the way that other metals rust. With iron and steel, rust is referred to as iron oxide, which looks brownish-red as you probably picture rust. Aluminum oxide is different. Rather than corrode and flake away, aluminum rust sticks to the surface and helps protect the metal. Its grayish hue blends with the color of the metal.
Now that we know that aluminum patio furniture does rust, we'll explore the ins and outs of this type of popular patio furniture material. You might be wondering how long aluminum patio furniture will last your family or what the best way to maintain this material is. To see what we've discovered, read ahead in this post.
What you need to know about outdoor furniture
If you're considering aluminum patio furniture, you should know that two common options that are available: tubular aluminum and cast aluminum. Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.
This is also known as extruded aluminum. You might recognize this by how the seating tends to be made from a series of straps. This style is lightweight and very easy to move. It works well for those who might have small children or elderly members in the household. Tubular aluminum is easy to clean and is very inexpensive.
The lightweight design makes this style very susceptible to winds. In short, it will blow away if not anchored and should be stored when not in use. Tubular aluminum patio furniture is also prone to denting and doesn't have the lifespan of cast aluminum.
This style is the most durable of the two. When people brag that they have had the same patio furniture for years, they probably have cast aluminum furniture. Treated with powder coating, the surface of the furniture is better protected from the elements. And the weight will keep this patio set in place much better when it's windy outside.
Cast aluminum is less portable due to its heaviness. People tend to set it in one place and keep it there throughout the season. It's also substantially more expensive than tubular aluminum, which might be prohibitive if your family is on a budget.
How long does aluminum outdoor furniture last?
With the cost of aluminum patio furniture considerably higher than most other materials, you probably think it will be long-lasting. And you'd be right! Patio furniture made of this metal is known to last more than 30 years. Imagine buying a furniture set that sits outside year-round and having it last much longer than the furniture that sits in your living room!
Making sure your aluminum furniture is going to last a generation will require a few things, however. For starters, you need to make certain that you are following the manufacturer's maintenance and cleaning instructions exactly. We'll get further into detail on this ahead in this post.
It's also important that you select powder-coated aluminum furniture. This finishing material is typically applied simultaneously with the color, so if you have colored furniture, then it's probably got a powder coating. If the furniture you have chosen doesn't have a powder coating, this is something you can do on your own if you have the proper equipment.
How do you protect aluminum patio furniture?
The best way to protect your aluminum patio furniture is to make sure that it has been powder coated. We discuss powder coating in greater detail later in this post. For now, just know that it's a protective layer that's usually applied prior to sale to help the aluminum stay safe from moisture and grime.
While aluminum is long-lasting and durable, it will still need to be routinely cleaned and maintained. Carefully inspecting your furniture at the beginning and end of the season will work best. Check it over for any pitting, scratches, or marring. Using water and steel wool, gently rub the furniture. This will remove any dirt or grime that might have built up. The steel wool will also polish the metal, which will shine through after it has dried.
Avoid Alkaline Based Cleaning Agents
For regular cleaning, a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water works well. The mild acidity of the white vinegar will activate, cleaning the surface of your furniture.
You'll want to avoid cleaning your aluminum furniture with anything that is alkaline-based. This means traditional detergents and soaps won't be the best thing to use. It's not that they'll necessarily harm the metal; rather, they just don't react with the aluminum in the way that something acidic like vinegar.
Wax Protectant for Cast Aluminum
If you have cast aluminum, a good quality automotive wax is an excellent way to maintain your patio furniture. It will give the aluminum a nice gloss while at the same time adding another protective layer to the metal from the elements.
If you live in a region that gets cold and snowy several months out of the year, store your patio furniture inside if you have the room. But if you don't, there's a lot of great waterproof furniture covers that will help protect your outdoor investment in the winter months.
What is powder-coated aluminum furniture?
Powder coating is a finishing material used on some metals to protect from moisture, dirt, and other agents that might cause damage. This finishing option is very popular, as it comes in as many colors as you can imagine. By varying the pigment in the powder before application, you're able to have aluminum coated with the color of your choice.
This coating is applied on the surface of the aluminum furniture using a special spray gun. This gun charges the powder with static in a process called electrostatic spray deposition. The statically charged powder is then sprayed to the metal surface, where the charge enables it to stick.
Powder coating aluminum or any other metal is also eco-friendly. This process has very little waste, as any of the powder that misses its mark can be quickly recouped and reused. The materials used are not hazardous, and no volatile organic compounds are used in making the coating.
The finished product is quite durable. Depending upon the reason for application, the powder coating can be up to 12 millimeters thick, protecting the furniture from nicks, dings, and scratches as well.
Does aluminum furniture get hot in the sun?
Pretty much any material that is in direct sunlight will absorb some of the sun's rays and become warm, even hot, to the touch. Aluminum is no different in this respect. While steel and other metals might get hotter than aluminum in the sun, you'll still want to use a bit of caution before sitting down on aluminum furniture that's had sunlight on it all afternoon.
Fortunately, aluminum will quickly cool if it is removed from the heat source. It can transfer heat more quickly, allowing it to cool down in moments after the sun is removed from the equation.
This indoor/outdoor chair and table set is constructed of durable aluminum. It's lightweight, easy to clean, and sure to last many seasons in the sun or on your covered patio.
Aluminum is a popular choice for outdoor furniture for numerous reasons. While the cost tends to be more than most materials, aluminum's durability and strength make the furniture a long-term investment. Should you have your aluminum patio furniture powder coated and follow the proper care and maintenance recommendations, you will be able to enjoy these pieces for a long time to come.
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