Plastic outdoor furniture can also be referred to as patio or garden furniture and is specifically designed to be used outdoors, therefore, it needs to withstand all the elements of the weather from changes in temperatures, to UV exposure from the sun, and wet conditions from the rain and snow.
The typical plastic outdoor furniture set includes chairs, tables, planters, steps, trellises, and even birdbaths. All these products need to be manufactured from the correct plastic in order to meet the design criteria, whether this is load bearing parameters for seats, shear stress for wall hanging planters, water absorption resistance and brittle fractures at low temperatures.
Let’s have a look at the most commonly used material for plastic outdoor furniture.
High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
High-density polyethylene, or HDPE, is one of the most used plastics for outdoor furniture for multiple reasons. It is a very durable plastic capable of withstanding the bangs and knocks of everyday use. Its properties do allow for dents instead of breaking or chipping which could result in sharp edges and make it a very safe material for plastic outdoor furniture, especially where children playing in the garden are involved.
HDPE also has a high melting point which allows it to retain its shape without deterioration even on the hottest of summer days. Little wonder then that it’s a popular material for manufacturing sun loungers as seen by many a pool in holiday resorts or back yards.
It also has a low operating temperature, therefore will not become brittle and fracture in freezing weather conditions either.
With a very good moisture resistance property, HDPE is waterproof, it is also resistant to mildew, fungus, mold growth, and bacteria, which makes it a safe plastic to use outdoors. It is also easy to clean as it has good resistance to strong mineral acids and strong cleaning chemicals.
HDPE is also known for its weatherproof properties as it will not discolor or fade from long exposure to the sun and the UV rays, it lasts a long time and can withstand all the seasonal changes and weather elements when left outdoors, unprotected. This often happens with patio furniture like the following tables and chairs which may be left outside 365 days a year:
From a processing point of view, HDPE is easily molded into large shapes. A chair can be injection molded in one piece, for example. It is also easy to color and you can color match anything you desire. For even larger items such as tables, the individual parts can be injection molded and then assembled fairly easily.
From a cost standpoint, HDPE is a very cost-effective plastic to use for the production of plastic outdoor furniture, costing just $1.06/lb in summer 2022.
Another key consideration for using HDPE is that it is one of the most environmentally friendly plastics available today. It is very easy to recycle and reuse in the production of other plastic products.
Advantages of HDPE
- Excellent weather resistance
- Excellent UV resistance
- High impact resistance, can dent instead of breaking
- High and low working temperatures
- Easy to process
- Great range of color options
- Easy to clean with resistance to chemicals
- Recyclable and reusable
Disadvantages of HDPE
- Lightweight and could blow around in high winds
- It can dent and deform without going back into shape
- Can develop stress cracks over time
Summary for Plastic Outdoor Furniture
When sourcing outdoor plastics for the production of plastic outdoor furniture, the predominant choice is High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE). With its high impact resistance and exceptional mechanical properties, HDPE has made its mark in the plastic outdoor furniture marketplace. It also has excellent UV resistance and weatherproof properties making this a long-lasting plastic when left unattended throughout the years.
HDPE is also easy to process and is cost-effective with raw material at just $1.06/lb. One of the only disadvantages of HDPE is its weight, it is light and prone to being blown around the garden in a storm.