Seas side life is filled with sun, salt, ocean water, and sea air — all the things we want for our time at the beach house. But these conditions are not so great for furniture. Outdoor furniture at a beach house has to suffer through changeable weather, bright sun, and high humidity.
The unfortunate fact is that constant exposure to the salt air and the elements break down our outdoor furniture much faster. This is why you need to choose the most durable outdoor furniture you can for your beach house. Get the wrong type of material, and your furniture could be stained, warped, or cracked within a couple of years.
The best outdoor furniture for a beach house will be heavy, durable, and withstand long-time exposure to the elements. Good furniture materials include HDPE lumber, teak, and stainless steel. Other options may require more maintenance and not last as long. Avoid cheap plastic and softwood.
Outdoor furniture for a beach house will need to suit your style and be durable enough to withstand the weather conditions. Before buying new outdoor furniture, you will need to consider the environment around your house, your design aesthetic, and your budget.
The more durable materials are often more expensive, but in the long run, they prove their worth as materials like teak can last more than 30 years. Cheap plastic garden furniture begins to crack and stain within a few years. Not only does the more durable material stand up to prolonged outdoor use, it often looks much better. The initial expense is offset by how long the furniture lasts.
What Is The Best Kind Of Outdoor Furniture For A Beach House
The best outdoor furniture for a beach house will be made from a strong, durable material. Beach houses are often exposed to various elements, from boiling sun in summer to drastically cold winter temperatures. Your outdoor or patio furniture needs to be able to withstand these extremes.
Outdoor furniture at a beach house is also subjected to salty humid air, which can cause a lot of wear and tear to materials. Outdoor furniture needs to be waterproof, stand up to sunlight, salt, and abrasive materials like wind-blown sand. A good set of patio furniture should last you over 20 years.
With these things in mind, choose from furniture made from Poly/HPDE lumber (this is also known as synthetic resin), teakwood, stainless steel, and even aluminum. While you can buy outdoor furniture made from wrought iron, plastic, and softwood like pine, these are not recommended for use by the sea.
The Best Outdoor Furniture For Salt Air
Salty air is a major factor in wear and tear on outdoor furniture. The humidity and salt in ocean air can warp, crack, and rust furniture very quickly. These harsh elements are particularly bad for furniture made of wrought iron. If the powder coating on wrought iron furniture is chipped or scratched, the furniture will very quickly rust if it is not immediately treated with rust-proofing material. Softwoods like pine are susceptible to humidity, and weather and rot in a matter of years.
HDPE/Poly Lumber Outdoor Furniture
The best furniture for salt air is a material known as HDPE or poly lumber. Not only is synthetic resin or poly lumber one of the most durable of the materials available for outdoor furniture, it is also environmentally friendly. This synthetic resin is recycled from consumer waste like milk jugs and shampoo bottles which are cleaned and purified before being compounded.
HDPE is then made into ‘lumber’ used for furniture; this process keeps plastic out of landfills and preserves tree growth.
But its value goes beyond reusing waste material. Because it’s made with a single polymer, poly resin furniture is extremely durable. It is resistant to corrosive spills, to oil, water, and the sun. This extreme durability means poly resin furniture does not need to be waterproofed. You will not be required to paint or stain your HDPE furniture to maintain it through its lifetime.
Polyresin furniture is easily cleaned with a damp cloth and soap, so you will not have to buy specialist chemicals to clean it. Any mold which may appear can be easily removed with a bleach and water solution without damaging the furniture.
Polyresin furniture can be constructed in a variety of styles and colors. You can buy the popular Adirondack chairs in Polywood and have your relaxing beachfront style without worrying about fading, chipping, or breaking. These chairs and tables are solidly built and won’t blow over in rough weather.
Teak Outdoor Furniture
Teak wood comes from extremely slow-growing trees native to South and Southeast Asia. They can grow many hundreds of feet high, and one tree can provide a lot of lumber. Teak’s slow growth creates an extremely dense and hardwearing wood with a tight grain and high oil content.
Traditionally, teak was used in shipbuilding, which gives you an idea of just how well it can weather salty ocean water. Even today, teak is still used in some luxury boat-building.
However, this slow growth also makes it an expensive option. While it is very strong wood and furniture made from teak will last many years used outdoors, you will need to treat and maintain your wood to keep it in its best condition.
New teak furniture has a very rich, honey brown shade. If you want your furniture to keep this color, you will have to treat it annually with specialized teak sealers. Untreated teak will fade over time to a soft silvery burnish. Many people love the look of faded teak, and it certainly lends itself to the style of a beach house. The silver shade echoes the natural tones of driftwood. In this case, you may prefer to leave your teak furniture untreated so that it ages into a silvery tone.
When buying teak furniture, you will need to decide between Grade A, B, and C teak. These range in quality from Grade A made from the heartwood to Grade C made from the trunk’s outer parts. Grade C will be more affordable but will also require more maintenance.
Even teak wood furniture will last longer if placed on a hard surface rather than grass to avoid mildew and damp-related rot.
Stainless Steel Outdoor Furniture
If you prefer the look of metal furniture over wood or resin, stainless steel is a good choice for a beach house. Metal furniture tends to retain more heat than wood or polyresin, so consider this when choosing furniture for sunny areas. Of the metals, stainless steel can endure temperature extremes better than most. Because of its weight and durability, stainless steel furniture is unlikely to be blown over in high winds and storms.
Stainless steel is well known for not rusting, but with added salt and humidity in the air, beach house furniture will need a powder coating. This powder coating is recommended to prevent extreme weather from causing rust. Stainless steel that is higher in Chromium will withstand rusting better than lower Chromium content steel.
While stainless steel is also often made of recycled materials, the downsides to this furniture are that it can be expensive and gets hot in the sun, making it not a good choice for beach houses that get a lot of heat in summer.
Aluminum Outdoor Furniture
Unsurprisingly, aluminim is one of the most popular choices for outdoor patio furniture. Aluminum furniture is fairly inexpensive and comes in a wide variety of styles and shapes. It is a durable metal that requires little maintenance and is resistant to most weather. However, like any metal, it will retain heat, so avoid putting it in an area with high sun.
Aluminum furniture made from hollow tubes is very lightweight, and this can be either a pro or a con, depending on your situation. If you only use your beach house seasonally and prefer to pack away outdoor furniture that is not in use, aluminum is a great lightweight option. However, that same lightweight does mean the furniture is more likely to be blown over in storms and high winds.
Because it is relatively inexpensive, aluminum also makes a good option for those on a tighter budget or if you like to change your outdoor furnishing regularly to suit evolving trends.
Wrought Iron Outdoor Furniture
Wrought iron furniture will definitely not be blown over in storms; this very heavy metal is certainly a durable choice. Unfortunately, iron is more prone to rust, making it generally unsuitable for areas with high humidity and salt in the air. Wrought iron furniture can last many decades, even a hundred years, if properly maintained and cared for.
Wrought iron and cast-iron furniture are made using different methods. Wrought iron is heated, twisted, and hammered into the required shape, making it unique, while cast iron is melted down and poured into molds. Both create extremely heavy and intricate pieces of furniture. While these can be statement pieces, the weight and ornamentation can also make them difficult to move and clean.
Of all the metals, iron is the most susceptible to extreme changes in temperature. It gets very hot or very cold depending on the outside temperature, making wrought iron furniture unsuitable for areas with constantly changing temperatures. To make your wrought iron furniture more comfortable, you may want to invest in cushions and backrests made from a Performance fabric suited to outdoor use.
To avoid rust on wrought iron furniture, ensure that the iron has been powder-coated. This extra layer of protection is especially necessary for outdoor beach house furniture. If you notice the coating has been chipped or cracked, treat the area immediately with a rust-proof product. To maintain the iron for longer, clean it regularly with warm water and soap. Cleaning gets rid of the build-up of sand and salt, and other corrosive materials, which could scour through the powder coating.
Soft Wood Outdoor Furniture
While hardwoods like teak, eucalyptus, or acacia can handle the weather conditions at the ocean, softer wood types are not recommended. Because softer woods have a looser grain and less oil, they cannot withstand the salt air and humidity in the same way as hardwoods. Water in their air will warp and swell the wood, making it deteriorate faster. Wooden outdoor furniture can quickly become ruined by the elements and require constant maintenance and upkeep to prevent degradation. If you are looking for long-lasting outdoor furniture for your beach house, avoid furniture made from softwoods like pine which will quickly succumb to rot and mildew.
Softwoods and hardwoods will fade to a greyish-silver if left untreated, but new hardwood is usually reddish or golden brown. Softwoods, when new, are usually paler in color, with a greeny undertone, though they will turn a little darker as they are exposed to the outdoor air. Softwood furniture will last longer if kept covered when not in use, but even the best-maintained pine furniture will not last much longer than 10 years outdoors.
However, pine is a much cheaper alternative to hardwoods as coniferous trees are fast-growing. Since some hardwoods are quite rare, you may decide that softwood pine furniture is a more environmentally-conscious option.
Keep softwood in good condition by using wood oil to protect your furniture from sun and water. Even with wood oil, the high sun can make your furniture deteriorate up to 75% faster than shaded furniture.
How To Make Outdoor Beach House Furniture Last Longer
Weatherproofing and correct coverings and storage will extend the longevity of your outdoor furniture.
There are several approaches to weatherproofing furniture, depending on their material. If you only use your beach house in the summer season, it is good practice to cover up your garden and outdoor furniture to prevent excess damage from the harsh winter weather. You can buy ready-made plastic covers for patio sets, or if your furniture is folding or can be easily stored, pack it away for the season. Always make sure furniture is thoroughly dry before storing it.
All woods will fade if left untreated. With hardwoods, this may be a desirable look. However, if you want to maintain the rich color or preserve softwood from mildew, water, and sun, you will need to do one of the following to protect wood furniture:
- Seal the wood with a water-repellent preservative, preferably one that contains a mildewcide
- Oil the wood with a suitable wood oil
- Paint the wood and cover with a layer of marine varnish
For metal furniture, once the metal has had excess rust and paint removed, you can restore it by:
- Treating the metal with a fish-oil based primer designed to prevent rust
- Following this with a fresh coat of paint
- New and rust-free furniture will only need to be painted
- Black paint will last longer in sunny areas
- Treat with a UV-resistant metal spray
- Store or cover your metal furniture away when not in use
If you have plastic garden furniture, although it is not ideal, you can still extend its life with the following tips:
- Keep the plastic clean so sand and salt can’t abrade the surface
- Protect the plastic from sun damage with car wax
- Stack and cover plastic furniture when it is not in use.
Whether you choose wood, plastic, or metal for your outdoor furniture will reflect your needs, your decisions about sustainability, and your budget. Generally, hardwoods like teak and mahogany are your best natural materials, while modern HDPE lumber furniture like Polywood is the most durable and sustainable choice. For a seaside garden, metal is probably not the best option, but if you prefer the look of metal, go for stainless steel or aluminum overwrought or cast iron. While HDPE is fairly maintenance-free, requiring nothing more than soap and water, other furniture will need to be maintained and treated to ensure it does not rust, stain, rot, or warp.