There are many different types of garden furniture but the three most common materials supplied in the United Kingdom are wood, resin and aluminium.
Wooden Garden furniture will be either softwood or hardwood and this will be reflected in the price that you pay. Softwood furniture is made of either pine of cedar. It is generally cheap to buy but it requires a lot of maintenance and it would not normally last more than a few years. Hardwood furniture can be made of Teak, Oak, Water Hyacinth or Mahogany. It is not necessary to treat hardwood furniture as it already has a lot of natural oils within it that offer protection. Some people like to stain hardwood furniture for aesthetic reasons. Wooden furniture looks very elegant when new but over time it will fade to a grey or silver patina as the wood ages naturally. Hardwood furniture will last longer than softwood. Covering it or putting it away in winter will prolong its useful life.
Resin or all weather wicker furniture has recently become very popular in the UK. It look stylish, requires little maintenance and can be very affordable. All weather wicker is easy to clean. The quality of resin furniture varies enormously. Like most things in life you get what you pay for. The cheaper all weather wicker sets will be constructed of a flat PVC weave. This is not particularly strong and can be prone to warping. Better quality furniture is manufactured using a cylindrical weave. This not only looks more attractive but it is a lot stronger and less likely to warp. Resin furniture should not really be left outside all year. It can suffer frost damage and mildew which can be very hard to clean off between the grooves.
Cast Aluminium furniture is made from sand aluminium which is poured into a mould. Once it has cooled and hardened it is then powder coated to give a very durable and long lasting finish. Cast Aluminium garden Furniture is the best choice if you do require the nil maintenance option. It can be left outside all year, it will not blow around, even in the strongest of winds and it will not be affected by frost. It can be wiped down and made ready for use in minutes. If you are unfortunate enough to damage a small area of the coating it is easy to repaint with a matching metallic paint. Tubular extruded aluminium furniture is also readily available. This is generally cheaper, lighter weight and more suited to commercial premises.