Whether your outdoor oasis is an open-concept patio with views of rolling hills or a ten-square-foot condominium patio situated in a bustling downtown core, selecting the proper patio furniture is a must for optimizing your long-awaited summer experience.
The two most popular furniture types are wicker and metal. At first glance, it may be hard to choose between these two, but with our years of experience, we have all the information you need to select the perfect patio furniture.
Both metal and wicker make for excellent patio furniture, but the main difference lies in the material. Durability, style, functionality, and cost all rely on the furniture’s make. Distinguishing between wicker and metal materials can result in the ideal patio furniture for any budget and style.
Discover the history of wicker, the various types of metal and wicker used in patio furniture, how the comfortability and durability compare between each and the aesthetic that wicker and metal patio furniture provides. Learn more as we examine wicker patio furniture vs. metal patio furniture and the advantages and drawbacks of each.
The term wicker refers to a weaving technique whereby one of five select materials are intricately woven together to create sturdy, highly durable indoor and outdoor furniture.
The first of the five materials, paper rope, is a man-made material consisting of twisted kraft paper treated with chemicals. The next material, seagrass, is a durable material stemming from Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia, offering an island aesthetic. The third is rattan, one of the strongest woods derived from a tropical palm tree in Southeast Asia.
Next up, we have resin, a plastic material void of harmful chemicals that appears more high-end than other plastic chairs. This type of wicker is also known as all-weather wicker as it won’t decay or get moldy in the rain, and it won’t get brittle from sun exposure. It’s meant to mimic the look of rattan but is specifically designed for the outdoors. Typically, resin-based wicker furniture have a metal (either steel or aluminum) skeleton to ensure that it is sturdy.
Finally, water hyacinth is a quick-growing plant comparable to rattan. As its name suggests, it’s aquatic in origin and is indigenous to the Amazon basin. It makes for robust yet lightweight furniture that doesn’t make sacrifices when it comes to being pleasing to the eye. Besides these benefits, water hyacinth is also environmentally friendly, which is great if you are looking for sustainable furniture.
Similar to wicker, you can find several types of metal to create outdoor patio furniture. While each metal type offers advantages and disadvantages, there are also personal preferences to consider.
The first of the three main metal types is stainless steel, which is resistant to corrosion and rusting, highly durable, and sleek.
Next is wrought iron, visibly fibrous in appearance and the most durable of the three metals. Wrought iron patio furniture is long lasting and resistant to strong winds and harsh weather.
Finally, aluminum furniture is lightweight, affordable, diverse in color, and easy to rearrange. However, because of aluminum’s lightweight design, it is easy for aluminum furniture to become dented or damaged.
Wicker Vs. Metal Patio Furniture: Durability
There are durability considerations to be made when selecting patio furniture, like whether your local climate sees heavy snow, harsh rain, strong winds, or intense heat.
Because there are several materials to choose from when creating wicker furniture, the furniture’s durability varies.
Resin wicker is the best choice for patio furniture exposed to harsh elements, like rain, snow, or excessive heat. The resin wicker’s protective lacquer withstands rot and fading. Wicker furniture also provides convenience as it is easy to lift and move while maintaining its durability.
If furnishing a covered patio or screened porch, rattan furniture is a stylish and reasonable choice. However, you should note that traditional wicker materials can be subject to fading, dampening, or rotting when exposed to sunlight and humidity.
Similar to wicker, metal furniture’s durability is highly dependent on the type of metal used. Wrought iron is heavy and highly durable, aluminum is lightweight and delicate, and stainless steel falls somewhere in the middle.
However, you can take additional measures to improve aluminum patio furniture’s durability, like adding a powder coating to make the metal more resistant to the effects of sunlight and water. Powder coating is a painting technique used on metal builds like bicycles, home appliances, and cars. The process protects metal from oxidation and resists flaking off.
Alternatively, wrought iron can withstand high winds but is susceptible to rusting and must be handled with extra care when exposed to snow or rain.
Wicker Vs. Metal Patio Furniture: Maintenance
Wicker and metal patio furniture require different types and degrees of maintenance, depending on the kind of wicker or metal used. Some wicker types may require frequent brushing, while others may only need reapplied protective lacquer.
Similarly, you may need to monitor certain metals, routinely wiping them to remove rust. For other materials, you might be able to simply rebuff them. Always check with the manufacturer’s instructions to keep your furniture in tip-top shape.
The different materials used to prepare wicker furniture require diverse maintenance practices. The most durable wicker material, resin, requires minimal maintenance as the protective lacquer resists damage. Simply brush the wicker routinely, reapplying lacquer coating when necessary. Keep in mind that wicker furniture may experience decay or rot if not maintained correctly, as humidity can become trapped between the woven strands.
Each of the three metals used to create patio furniture requires different and varying maintenance. Regardless of the metal type, the techniques that remain the same are wiping rust away as soon as it forms, quickly repainting any paint chips, and polish any scuff marks that appear.
Wicker Vs. Metal Patio Furniture: Comfortability
As wicker and metal patio furniture differ in durability and maintenance, they also offer different types of comfortability. In addition to the comfort provided by a patio chair’s shape and size, customizable add-ons like pillows and blankets can assist the chair’s comfortability and influence the style of your patio set up.
As wicker furniture is composed of select materials carefully woven together, wicker furniture has a forgiving structure and can become molded to a particular shape or weight over time. Some may consider the lack of rigidity as more comfortable. At the same time, it may also provide discomfort for individuals if it becomes too indented. Fortunately, this can be combated by simply placing a cushion or blanket on the chair.
Wicker also provides comfortability by way of being breathable, as air can flow between the woven materials and keep you cool.
As metal is naturally more inflexible and rigid, it may feel less comfortable than a wicker chair without the assistance of a cushion or blanket. Metal is highly customizable in shape, so there should be many patio chairs of various shapes and sizes to choose from to fit your comfortability.
Depending on a metal patio chair’s design, airflow may be limited, and you may become warm when sitting on the same chair for a prolonged time.
Wicker Vs. Metal Patio Furniture: Cost
When selecting patio furniture sets, there are three cost components that you must consider: the actual cost of the pieces you want, their durability, and how much maintenance they require.
Prices vary drastically depending on the type of furniture and style. For example, a complete patio set with a table, couch, and chairs will cost significantly more than a simple bistro set. Still, metal pieces tend to cost a bit less than wicker options.
You may be able to find a three-piece metal bistro set for under $100, while two wicker dining chairs can reach $200. Of course, the price also depends on the brand and style.
Additionally, you should consider durability as furniture can become costly if you constantly have to replace it. Both high and low-end products may not last long, so make sure to research the company’s reputation and any available reviews to see how the furniture stands up against the elements and time.
Furthermore, ensure you are correctly taking care of your patio furniture to maximize its use and lifespan. Consider how much work you are willing to put into the maintenance. If you find a lovely, inexpensive furniture set, but it requires heavy maintenance, it may not be worth the low price to you.
Keeping all these points in mind, let’s explore more about the overall cost-effectiveness of both wicker and metal options.
Resin wicker, synthetic wicker that became popular in the mid-2000s, is both durable and cost-effective. Stylish in appearance, functional, and resistant to the elements when maintained correctly, resin wicker is an affordable choice for any patio.
If utilized in the appropriate environment, metal can be durable, long-lasting, and therefore highly affordable in the long term. Though aluminum patio furniture may offer the greatest variety in color and shape, it is most susceptible to dents and damage, and therefore may not be cost-effective over time.
Wicker Vs. Metal Patio Furniture: Decorative Considerations
In addition to the durability and maintenance of patio furniture, there are additional considerations like environmental factors, color, and style. Patio furniture comes in various colors and natural-looking hues, with different offerings between wicker and metal.
Environmental factors might include the climate where you reside, as high winds would likely be damaging to aluminum or rattan patio furniture. If you live sea-side, be mindful that humidity and saltwater can ruin iron and steel. Plus, scorching temperatures may see metal furniture heat up and be difficult to sit on or touch.
Patio furniture comes in a variety of styles to fit different tastes, including traditional, transitional, eclectic, modern, and minimalist.
The woven appearance of wicker furniture provides a rustic, coastal, or traditional aesthetic. Each wicker material type offers its own aesthetic, ranging from exotic and minimalist to colorful and funky. Beyond the natural hues, there are a variety of wicker colors that satisfy different design palettes.
White wicker, or wicker painted in shades of ivory or antique white, provides an airy, breezy aesthetic. People often choose white wicker for bedrooms, quaint traditional settings, and poolside areas. The white shade produces a luxurious aesthetic often seen in patio chairs and loungers.
Black wicker is highly suitable for rainy environments, as it conceals wear and tear. A favorite for indoors and outdoors, black wicker is fitting for contemporary or modern design aesthetics. Red-brown wicker offers a colonial or classic feel, establishing an earthy composition. While these are the three most common color variants after natural hues, it is not uncommon to encounter pastel or bright-colored wicker furniture. These bright or pastel shades can provide an unexpected pop of color, making for eye-catching decor.
Resin wicker, a plastic rendition of traditional wicker, is the contemporary successor to natural wicker and is available in numerous shapes and colors.
Aluminum patio furniture may have a textured or solid finish, whereas wrought iron most often comes in matte black. Metal patio furniture is more sleek and modern in appearance, fitting patios more contemporary in design. As metal is highly versatile in shape and design, the size and structure of metal patio furniture are variable and available in a multitude of colors.
If you still have some questions about wicker and metal furniture, explore the inquiries below. Hopefully, you’ll be able to take the leap and choose between wicker and metal furniture for your patio.
Does Wicker or Metal Furniture Look Better?
While metal furniture may evoke images of an industrial scene, it can actually look just as chic – if not more so – as wicker options. The final decision of which furniture type looks better comes down to taste and the environment.
Traditional wrought-iron pieces have a darker look, but stainless steel and aluminum furniture come in various styles and colors that can fit any decor style.
Likewise, traditional wicker made with natural materials has a classic beach feel, while resin options come in various colors.
What Type of Outdoor Furniture Is the Most Durable?
Between wicker and metal, they are both susceptible to the elements. Metal chairs and tables may end up with rust, and wicker sets can eventually grow mold.
However, some types of wicker and metal furniture are more durable than others. For example, resin wicker furniture has a protective lacquer that prolongs any deterioration. Likewise, wrought iron is the most durable metal material.
Is Aluminum, Wrought Iron, or Stainless Steel Better for Metal Furniture?
The answer depends on what your furniture priorities include. Aluminum furniture is inexpensive and easy to rearrange, thanks to its low weight. Wrought iron is incredibly more durable than aluminum, meaning it will likely last for much longer. Stainless steel has its own advantages, which include a high degree of rust resistance.
Are There Different Types of Wicker?
There are five main types of wicker that you can find in popular furniture pieces. Seagrass, hyacinth, and rattan are three natural wicker materials, rattan being the strongest. Some wicker furniture incorporates man-made materials, like chemical-free resin or paper rope.
Do I Need to Cover My Metal or Wicker Furniture?
No material can withstand the elements forever. To best maintain your wicker or metal pieces, keep them covered at night and during the winter. Better yet, if you have a garage or storage unit, consider keeping them safe indoors for the chilly winter months.
While some rain – or snow – won’t immediately damage your furniture, repeated or prolonged exposure to harsh weather can wear the materials down more quickly than if you keep them covered.
What Style Should I Choose for Patio Furniture?
Whether you’re leaning towards metal or wicker furniture pieces, there are numerous style options for your patio. If you have a pool near your deck, you may want to consider sleek aluminum chairs, complete with a sun umbrella.
If you have a chic area, consider adding a wicker set for the perfect final touch. Now, if you just can’t decide between the two materials, consider combining wicker and metal furniture. Just make sure the colors match, and you’ll create a unique set-up for your patio.
Set up Your Patio
Now that we’ve covered all aspects of wicker vs. metal patio furniture, which one seems like the best fit for you? Perhaps you would like to mix and match a few furniture options.
Both wicker and patio furniture have advantages and disadvantages, but ultimately, the decision is yours. Ensure you consider factors like durability, maintenance, comfortability, and style when selecting the best patio furniture for you and your needs.
Other things to keep in mind might include your local climate and whether or not your patio is an open concept or covered. Take some time to study your current patio set-up, colors, and intended aesthetic before looking into furniture options. You may be surprised at the wide variety of options in both metal and wicker.
With so many choices on both sides of the debate, you are sure to find patio furniture suited to your preferences. Set up your idealistic patio today!