Guide to Buying Furniture
So, you've thought long and hard, stared blankly at the empty space on your patio for hours and had a long talk with your spouse about how this is the year you're going to build the perfect "backyard oasis," and now your ready to take the plunge and buy some outdoor furniture. So, where do you start? Well, here are a few tips that may help you make a well-informed decision.
WOOD TYPE. Obviously, this is the biggest factor to consider because the type of material used to build your outdoor furniture will determine its looks, strength and longevity. It is a fact that certain species of wood are better suited for outdoor use than others. The following are some wood types to consider if your outdoor furniture is going to sit outside, and some to avoid:
Wood types to consider. Ash, Western Red Cedar, Cypress, Redwood and treated Pine are probably the most practical. Western Red Cedar is the least dense of these woods, so be sure to look for at least 1" board thickness if you are considering cedar outdoor furniture. Treated pine is an affordable alternative, however pine boards have a tendency to warp over time, and there has been controversy over the years regarding the chemicals used to treat them. CCA (copper chromium arsenic) was used for years to treat pine until it was replaced by ACQ, a preservative which does not contain chromium or arsenic, which studies have suggested to be hazardous.
Teak and Ipe are exotic hardwoods which perform well in outdoor applications, however they are expensive. They are also heavy woods which can make shipping costs a factor to consider.
We use Cypress for our products. Cypress is the only species that contains cypressine, a chemical found in Cypress that naturally protects it from decay and insects. Cypress is a medium-density, straight-grained wood that is resistant to warping, works easily and accepts paints and stains exceptionally well.
Wood types to avoid. Untreated yellow Pine, whitewood, Poplar, and certain species of Oak all have a tendency to decay when exposed to the elements. Unless you are purchasing your chair for indoor use, it would be best to avoid these species.
TIP: Also avoid any outdoor furniture that does not specify the wood type, i.e., "This furniture is made from solid wood." If the website or manufacturer won't specify the wood type, more than likely it is NOT made from a species suited for outdoor use. We've found that chairs which do not specify wood type are usually made from the least expensive materials available to achieve the lowest price points.
WOOD THICKNESS. Our experience has shown that outdoor furniture made from wood at least 3/4" thick performs the best in terms of support, appearance and longevity. Try to avoid tables made of 1/2" material as the seating surfaces will bow (and sometimes fail) over time.
FASTENERS. The first choice is stainless steel, especially in Coastal environments. Stainless steel will last the longest with no signs of discoloration or red rust. Dacrotized screws undergo a process (similar to galvanization) which produces a finish highly resistant to rust and corrosion as well. Galvanized fasteners perform well, however over time the galvanized finish can chip off. Brass is also a good option. Fasteners to avoid? Stay away from zinc-plated or hardened steel screws. These fasteners are not suited for outdoor use and will shows signs of corrosion after a short time period.
FINISHES. This is the part of shopping for outdoor furniture which you will probably find the least amount of data in the tables specifications. For paints we like acrylic latex gloss. Acrylic paints are flexible; they allow the wood to expand and contract through temperature and seaonal changes without cracking. Oil-based finishes will become more brittle over time and crack as the wood moves. The paint should be suited for exterior use, and we prefer a gloss finish simply because it's easier to clean.
For stains, try to find out if the finish contains water, mildew, uv and insect protection (like a waterseal), or if the finish is merely a stain. Having the features of a waterseal is only to your advantage and will increase the life of the furniture. It is important to mention that even if the stain contains uv inhibitors, the wood underneath the stain will turn gray over time, which will change the appearance of the chair. This often provides a unique appearance which many find appealling, and the graying of the wood underneath will not effect it's structural integrity if the wood is suited for outdoor use.
How long should paints and stains last? About as long as a good paint job on a house, and longer if the piece is out of direct exposure to the elements, such as under a porch or awning.
WHERE IS IT MADE? American consumers utilize many fantastic products each day that are manufactured overseas. Imported products are usually of high quality and are oftentimes affordably priced.
With that being said, we should not forget that purchasing American-made products do in fact support the lives and families of our fellow Americans. American outdoor furniture is usually made by small companies throughout the country, many with a unique story to tell. These small companies symbolize American capitalism and entrepreneurship which are the backbone of this great land of ours. Since Cherry Bear furniture is a purely American product and is one of the icons of relaxation in the U.S., isn't it only fitting that it is made in the U.S.?
We hope that we've been able to provide you with just a few tips in your search for outdoor furniture. Of course, you can alway contact us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be glad to help you in any way.