Composites have exploded into the outdoor furniture space in recent years, becoming a formidable foe to wood, which has been relatively unrivaled within the space until now. Each material comes with its own distinct advantages and could better suit specific circumstances. You will rarely find a "one size fits all" product in this world, and outdoor materials are no different. Here we will seek to outline the key differences that will help you choose what is best for your outdoor living space.
Price is arguably the most important metric when comparing most things. Very few of us have the resources to pay top dollar, and why would you when you might not have to? It is no secret that composite materials are significantly more expensive than standard wood species. I say this because you can get into the realm of exotic hardwoods such as Teak and Ipe. For the sake of this article, I will exclude the higher priced variants and stick to more common species in the United States such as Pine, Cedar, and Cyprus.
Even with composites, there is a range of price points for different quality material. In comparison, pine decking usually costs between $0.75-$1.50 per linear foot. This difference ends up being significant when calculated for an entire deck. However, a deck experiences a harsher life than outdoor furniture, which is why long term maintenance costs end up playing a larger role over time.
Focusing on Adirondack chairs, a quick Google search shows that resin/polywood Adirondack chairs can range anywhere between $140-$400. At the time of writing this DHD's Adirondack chairs range from $110-$165. What do you get when you purchase a $140 composite Adirondack chair?
The chair linked above highlights some key differences between the two materials. One major difference is the size of the chair. For the most part, online chairs, especially Adirondacks, have gained the reputation for being too small. The table below highlights the dimensional differences between a DHD chair and the one shown on Overstock.
As you can see, online retailers that buy furniture from oversees will cut corners in order to save shipping costs across the 7,500 mile journey from China. Our chairs are made to comfortably sit any size adult. The extra inch of armrest space that you gain with our chairs allow you to easily sit a drink, plate, book, or anything else that you might want to enjoy in the outdoors. I also find it surprising that weight is left unspecified in the product description. In high wind environments, it is important that these chairs do not blow away or shift around.
The main counter argument you will hear for composite decking is that it is significantly less maintenance than wooden furniture. For the most part, this is true but few companies use as high quality of a finish as us. With the wood sealed, all you have to do is keep the product clean and you will be able to enjoy for years to come. When it's time to refinish (about 5 years ), usually a light round of sanding and a water-based sealer will do the trick. Another thing that you will see with foreign manufacturers, especially on the lower cost side, is the use of low quality hardware that quickly rusts when exposed to moisture. Over the years, I can not tell you how many chairs we have picked up at deliveries that are filled with rusted out hardware. When these screws rust, you will have dark red runs down the furniture that are big time eye sores. You will also find that half of the screw will break off into the product, which makes it even harder to replace with proper hardware. All the more reason to buy domestically made products from companies that are held accountable for high quality standards by their customers.
Admittedly, we have a soft spot in our hearts for wood, so it's no surprise that we prefer the classic material over modern alternatives. Something about the timeless look and feel connects us to a rich history to which plastics cannot. That is not to say that composites to not have their spot in certain spaces. For instance, if your deck is already composite or the house has a modern architecture, I could see the alternative looking better in that space. The thing about wood though, is that you will be hard pressed to find a space that it does not look good in. Since it is such a common material in everyday life, our eyes have become accustomed to recognizing it virtually everywhere. Another advantage of wood is that you can choose a finish that reflects almost any setting. We offer five different stain options that look great around firepits, log cabins, or farmhouse style homes. If stain is not the right choice for you, we can also do any color paint to obtain the exact look you're going for. We love semi-transparent wood finishes that allow you to see the grain of the wood and appreciate the natural beauties of this world.
In summary, the main trade offs between wood and composite are long term maintenance costs, aesthetic, and upfront cost. I think wood has the edge for aesthetic, but you will likely spend slightly more on long term maintenance costs. Since the upfront costs can vary widely, it is important to do your due diligence on any significant purchase. Material quality can vary widely, and I would not purchase anything, whether it be wood or composite if the manufacturer does not offer a 100% refund/return policy. In general, our experience with American manufacturers is better than suppliers abroad. It is usually much easier to communicate any question or concerns, and they will be more than happy to help.
No matter which route you go, we wish you luck transforming your outdoor space. As always, if you have any questions do not hesitate to reach out. We would be happy to help!