Buyer's guide for natural patio furniture

Buyer's guide for natural patio furniture

Selecting the right outdoor furniture can make or break a backyard setup.

Well chosen, patio furniture can bring years of enjoyment and style. Bought on impulse, or without consideration of maintenance and durability, outdoor furniture can become a headache requiring repair or replacement.

Ray Konopasek, owner of Lotus Imports in Medford encourages a look at all possible options and investing a bit more in advance to ensure years of enjoyment with a better product.

"Depending on the application, you kind of get what you pay for," Konopasek says.

First, analyze your space to determine what type of material would be best. A sunny spot, for example, is less suited to dark colored or thin plastic that could crack and fade. Wicker is better off in a covered area, where water will not accelerate the aging process.

A moderately priced option, rattan is a relative of the tropical palm tree, and one of the strongest woods available. Furniture can be purchased in pure rattan or as wicker, a slightly more durable product created from rattan and other materials like bamboo and hardwoods. As a general rule, the more intricate the weave, the higher the price goes.

Taking a step beyond ordinary rattan and wicker, Brian Garrison, of Garrison's Home Furnishings between Medford and White City, recommends heirloom quality wicker as a long term investment. The high-end wicker is built over a powder-coated steel frame, is available in different styles, colors and fabrics to create a custom look.

"It certainly isn't furniture for everybody, but most people replace their patio furniture every two or three seasons and this is something you would literally never replace," Garrison says.

For wood lovers, teak is the toughest of woods, making for long-term savings and fewer replacements and repairs. Two Sisters Teak owner Phil Burke, calls teak a "warm and inviting wood" with water and insect resistant properties.

"The advantage to teak is that it's a piece of furniture that you can put outside in the elements and will last probably 50 years, whether you take care of it or not," says Burke.

You can keep its beauty by taking care of it and oiling it or you can let it turn gray and it will still be good for 50 years."

Finally, with increased consciousness about the planet's limited resources, recycled products offer a bargain price and reduced impact on Mother Earth. Recycled plastic, made to look like wood, bamboo or other products, is lighter in weight than wood, won't rot and prevents resource waste. Soap and water keeps the furniture looking new. A non-plastic option, recycled teak is in high demand at Southern Oregon stores, too.

"It's a new product made of old wood," Konopasek explains.

"There's a shortage of new teak and the stuff lasts forever, so teak makers are going out and reusing wood again. The product is a third less expensive and it's easier on the planet."

Whether that backyard barbecue is decked out in wicker, teak or recycled plastic, gain a beautiful patio setup with a little bit of research and personal restraint.

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