|This article does not cite any references or sources. (September 2009)|
Garden furniture, also called patio furniture and outdoor furniture, is a type of furniture specifically designed for outdoor use. It is typically made of weather-resistant materials. The oldest surviving examples of garden furniture were found in the gardens of Pompeii.
Types of furniture
Garden furniture is often sold as a patio set consisting of a table, four or six chairs, and a (parasol). A picnic table is used for the purpose of eating a meal outdoors. Long chairs, referred to as chaise longue, are also common items. Recently seating furniture has been used for conversation areas using items like couches.
The British 'garden parasol' or American 'garden umbrella' is the term for a specialised type of umbrella designed to provide shade from the sun. Parasols are either secured in a weighted base or a built-in mount in the paving. Some are movable around outdoor tables and seating, others centred through a hole mid-table.
Patio heaters are used to enable people to sit outside at night or in cold weather. They can be permanently mounted on eaves and patio roofs, or portable and self-supporting. They can operate on electricity, propane, bottled butane (small units), or natural gas. The latter can be plumbed into permanent locations or attached to 'quick-connect' outlets.
Modular outdoor fire pits and portable fire bowls have become widely available in many materials to extend outdoor living. The tall clay Chimeneas of North America are an example.
Current garden accessories include items like birdbaths, plant stands, planter boxes and trellises to add detail to an outdoor space.
Wooden garden furniture can suffer through exposure to the elements and therefore needs to be periodically treated. Teak is a commonly used material for outdoor furniture. It naturally contains silica, which makes it resistant to fungal decay, many of the effects of water (such as rot, swelling and warping), as well as chemicals. It is also resistant to fire, acid and alkalis, and there are certain oils specifically for the treatment of teak to help it resist weather and the adverse effects of being outside.
Aluminium garden furniture is robust and long-lasting. However, if the protective coating is compromised it will corrode. Plastic garden furniture is naturally waterproof, so it can be left out year-round.
Wicker outdoor living furniture was originally made from the stems of any one of 600 species of palms found in tropical regions all over the world. The palm stems were tightly woven into interlocking panels, and formed into the desired structure. Now, most modern wicker furniture is made from synthetic resin, increasing the life expectancy and reducing manufacturing costs. Today's resin furniture is often made of recycled plastic and incredibly durable, usually carrying warranties of 20 years or longer. It can be moulded to resemble real wood or wicker.
The garden furniture industry is predicted to be a 5 billion dollar industry by 2017.