When you’re shopping for patio furniture, it’s important to consider what material(s) you want it to be made out of. Each has its pros and cons and your habits, space, and region’s climate can bring out the best–or worst–in each.
A plastic lawn chair, for example, can instantly be turned into a projectile in a good midwestern storm. That being said, if you live in a mild or slightly rainy climate and always stack and store your patio furniture in a shed when it’s not being used, plastic can be nice for its low price and portability.
Like plastic, aluminum is one of the most common materials to make patio furniture out of. In general, there are two types of aluminum patio furniture: extruded and cast. Below, we’ll talk about some of the pros and cons of each.
Aluminum vs Cast Aluminum Patio Furniture
“Aluminum” patio furniture is generally synonymous with “extruded aluminum” patio furniture, and is also generally hollow. “Cast aluminum” patio furniture is always solid.
Extruded or hollow patio furniture is made by forcing molten aluminum through a machine which shapes it into the desired, hollow form. This process was pioneered by a company called Brown Jordan in the 1940s. Cast aluminum patio furniture is quite literally cast out of a mold; that is, they pour that same molten aluminum–just more of it–into a mold and then let it cool and harden.
The Appeal of Cast Aluminum Patio Furniture
Hollow aluminum patio furniture is lighter and, intuitively, less expensive. Its lightweight quality is generally seen as a shortcoming because it makes for much more fragile products. Sometimes, manufacturers even have to line the insides of the furniture with supports to keep it from bending. But even when they do that, it can still end up flying around like a flimsy plastic chair in a good storm. Hollow aluminum is best used by people who want portable, stackable furniture and who faithfully store it in a shed or garage when it’s not in use.
Cast aluminum patio furniture, however, is serious business. Like hollow aluminum, cast aluminum patio furniture doesn’t rust and is easy to clean; unlike the hollow stuff, it won’t go airborne in a storm, unless perhaps the storm boasts hurricane-strength winds.
It’s also easier to give cast aluminum patio furniture more intricate designs because the process of producing it is so simple–just make your mold according to the designs you want and pour. As a result, it’s often more interesting to look at. It usually doesn’t come with cushions so you can see the intricacies of it, but if you like being comfortable, cushions and cushion covers aren’t hard to come by.
The only possible downside to cast aluminum patio furniture is that because it is so much heavier and more solid, it can be harder to relocate. But if you like the idea of being able to leave your patio furniture outside when you’re not using it and don’t see a need to move it around much, this is hardly a disadvantage.
Top Cast Aluminum Patio Furniture Brands
Alfresco Home was originally formed to serve independent retailers who had a hard time overcoming the barriers-to-entry in the outdoor furniture market. They expanded over the years and today, they sell directly to consumers as well as distributing to retailers.
They have over 30 collections available, made of all manner of materials including cast aluminum. Conveniently, when you shop on their website, you can filter your search by the material you’d like to see.
Hanamint doesn’t sell directly to consumers but they’re popular with retailers and service companies. You can easily find dealers with the Hanamint hookup on Hanamint’s website. The advantage here is that you’ll get expert opinions and tips when you shop Hanamint.
Many of their products come with 10 – 15-year warranties–not that it’s necessary; cast aluminum can easily last longer than that.
Tropitone was established in 1954 to serve commercial markets that Ammericans were starting to travel to by car–hotels, restaurants, dance clubs and the like. Their furniture became popular enough, however, that they saw an opportunity and eventually expanded to serve the retail market. The transition was successful and they’re still one of the best-selling cast aluminum patio furniture brands. They also offer products made of many other materials.
Tropitone has a whole section of their website called “Green Living”. They give more details than this, but the gist of that page is that they recycle everything, including scrap aluminum. They also discuss how they reduce waste on the front end so as not to need to recycle in the first place.
Cast Aluminum Patio Furniture Sets
Cast aluminum patio furniture sets are some of the most durable and low-maintenance items you can purchase for your patio. They never rust and almost never dent. You may have a harder time relocating them than their hollow counterparts, but you’ll also need to less.
The brands mentioned above make both a la carte items and full collections. Take a spin through their catalogs and see what you love–whether that’s fully predesigned cast aluminum patio furniture sets or single items that you can combine to make your own set. Or, if you want to see what other manufacturers have to offer while staying in the cast aluminum medium, Wayfair allows shoppers to filter their results by material. Overstock does too, but in a more fragmented way.
Chances are you won’t find many cast aluminum patio furniture sets coming with cushions. That’s fine if you and your guests don’t mind sitting on metal, but it can be a good idea to pick up some simple cushions to throw on those seats just in case. If you go that route, make sure to also find some durable, machine-washable cushion covers so you don’t have to replace those cushions any time soon.
And as always, have fun; see you on the patio!