A steel-framed table with a stone top has a certain charm. It is not only attractive, but it will also withstand the elements – and the weight prevents it from being blown away or carried away.
Make sure the frame is rustproofed and the top sealed, to prevent staining.
Versatile concrete can be cast in virtually any shape you desire and painted in any color you wish, as often as you like – updating your garden decor at whim.
You’re looking at lifetime durability, too – rain or shine – so buy precast pieces from your nearest concrete retailer, or ask their craftsmen to cast something unique to your own design.
On the patio
To accommodate a dining set on your patio, you need a space of at least 2.5 x 2.5 m to house a four-seater table, says architect Sorina van Deventer. Although it’ll be a little cramped, you’ll be able to sit comfortably at the table and walk around behind guests’ chairs. The ideal space for a six- to eight-seater is 4.2 x 4.2 m because you need room to move – and space for your braai. The table itself needs about 900 mm free space around it, while chairs require about 450 mm.
Simulated wicker is a hot new decor trend you’ll find in virtually every store right now. Produced from plastic or other synthetics, the furniture is woven to effect the same charm as genuine wicker, while being durable and environmentally friendly. Available in a wide variety of styles and colors, this furniture withstands the elements only up to a point; standing in the sun and rain permanently will result in fading and cracking.
Ideal for unprotected open spaces, aluminum furniture withstands the weather better than most other materials. It’s rust-resistant and maintenance-free, making it the perfect choice for someone who doesn’t have a patio or is not prepared to tackle regular maintenance. Buy the best quality you can afford: aluminum comes in different grades.
Before you buy, consider whether:
1. The furniture will be undercover, where it’s protected from the elements.
2. Space is an issue; will the chairs need to be folded and packed away?
3. The furniture needs to be moved regularly (from the patio to the lawn or
pool) and whether it’s lightweight enough for this.
4. The furniture has to do double-duty indoors as well.
5. You are prepared to carry out maintenance from time to time.
Designer plastic furniture, and furniture made from polyethylene, generally
come with a fairly hefty price tag, but if you hunt around for long enough, you may find something to suit your budget. Available in a variety of ergonomic and organic shapes and a veritable rainbow of colors, plastic furniture should never be left outdoors permanently, because it will eventually discolor and crack.
A perennially popular option available in a range of prices, the most popular
hardwoods are balau, saligna, meranti, and teak. Although wood can be left exposed to the elements to weather, regular oiling will add to its durability.
Imported Indonesian teak, in particular, is accustomed to a humid environment and will crack in South Africa’s dryer conditions unless properly sealed. Oil your wooden furniture regularly during the first year, and annually thereafter.
Avoid varnish, which will crack and flake – meaning you have to sand the furniture before resealing; no preparation is required before oiling.