Q Which metal is best for garden furniture?
A Most contemporary metal garden furniture is made from either steel – stainless, galvanised or plastic-coated – or aluminium. Stainless steel is more expensive than galvanised because it’s more costly to manufacture, and plastic-coated steel is usually the cheapest option. Aluminium is extremely lightweight and doesn’t rust.
Metal-framed furniture is plastic- or powder-coated or painted. It’s durable, lightweight and cheaper than wood, and is becoming increasingly popular. Manufacturers can incorporate other materials, such as fabric, wood, plastic and glass, to add style and comfort without hugely increasing cost.
Historically, metal garden furniture was made from strong and durable forged wrought iron or decoratively moulded cast iron. Both are heavy and more expensive than steel or aluminium. Cast aluminium is an increasingly popular alternative to cast iron, as it can be moulded into the same intricate styles, but the metal is stronger, lighter, more durable and cheaper to make.
Q What should I look out for when buying metal garden furniture?
A Establish which metal the frames are made of – only buy treated steel (stainless, galvanised, powdercoated, plastic-coated) or aluminium. Check that powdered or plastic coatings fully cover frames and are free from chips or cracks, particularly on joints, feet and bases.
Q How do I care for metal garden furniture?
A Store metal-framed furniture indoors or keep it covered to prevent joints, rivets and folding mechanisms from rusting and fabric seats from rotting.
Aluminium, stainless-steel and galvanised-steel frames can be cleaned with water and a mild detergent, then rubbed with a dry cloth to restore their shine.
Plastic-coated, powder-coated or painted metal furniture can also be cleaned with warm, soapy water and allowed to dry thoroughly. But it’s worth checking for chips or cracks in the coating as these will need to be treated with an anticorrosive paint to prevent the frame underneath from rusting. If the wrought iron has a gloss finish, use car polish to restore its shine.