Are you in the market for new patio furniture and looking for highly durable and weather-resistant furniture? Then you should definitely consider furniture made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE). This material is used in a wide range of outdoor patio furniture, especially wicker furniture and Adirondack chairs.
This post covers some of the essential pros and cons of HDPE patio furniture that you need to know about before your next patio furniture purchase. Read on below to find out why HDPE patio furniture is an excellent choice for your next patio furniture purchase for your outdoor space.
What is High-Density Polyethylene?
Simply, HDPE is a plastic material. You may come across the terms synthetic resins (you may find some wicker patio furniture labeled “synthetic resin”) and plastic as you research outdoor furniture. These terms mean nearly the same thing: synthetic resins are the main components of plastics; additional fillers are added with these resins to make plastics. Given that resins are the primary building blocks of plastic, plastic will typically be referred to by its polymeric material name (like HDPE).
There are several common synthetic resin/plastic materials used to make outdoor furniture. The most popular synthetic material is Polyethylene, or PE for short. PE can come in various forms, with High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) being the most common forms of PE. Other synthetic materials used for outdoor wicker furniture include Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Polypropylene (PP), and Polyurethane (PU).
Have you seen some wicker furniture labeled as PE Rattan Wicker? If so, know that this is likely not the same as HDPE wicker furniture. To find out how these materials are different, read our post on the differences between PE and HDPE material. Additionally, you may find that some wicker patio furniture is listed as “all-weather wicker,” which is another name of furniture made from synthetic resins like HDPE or LDPE. Read our post about all-weather wicker to learn more.
Is HDPE a good patio furniture material?
Yes! Several great outdoor furniture materials can endure many seasons year over year: teak, aluminum, steel, etc. However, the one that we rate highly as the most durable is high-density polyethylene (HDPE). HDPE is a durable, weather-resistant plastic that can withstand rain, sun, cold, heat, and the wear and tear of your backyard while still looking good for many years. Not only that, but it can be used in many stylish outdoor designs for patio furniture.
You will find that HDPE is typically used in higher-quality furniture pieces and carries a higher price compared to other wicker or plastic materials. Additionally, you will come across this material list as poly lumber, poly-wood, or poly furniture, with one of the common name brands being POLYWOOD.
HDPE outdoor furniture options
The Pros and Cons of HDPE Outdoor Furniture
#1 Pro: HDPE is waterproof
HDPE is waterproof, unlike wood, metals, and other outdoor materials that may be harmed by rain and dampness (e.g., wood swelling, metal rusting). HDPE is non-porous, which means it will not absorb water or moisture. As a result of this property, it will not swell or fracture from excessive moisture, like wood can. Since it is waterproof, HDPE is highly mold and mildew-resistant.
#2 Pro: HDPE outdoor furniture won't fade
As you may know, certain plastics or other outside materials can fade or discolor when exposed to sunlight for lengthy periods of time. However, you will often find that HDPE outdoor furniture is treated with UV-inhibiting stabilizers to prevent the furniture from fading in the sun. Also, the way most HDPE outdoor furniture is made, the material’s color is constant throughout HDPE material. This makes it harder for the sun to fade the material. As a result, HDPE patio furniture is very UV-resistant.
#3 Pro: HDPE is very durable: it won't chip, crack, or break like wood can
Whatever furniture you use in your backyard, you need it to withstand the wear and tear of the outdoor elements. HDPE is known to be one of the most durable outdoor materials. It is an extremely tough material to damage, unlike real wood that can chip, crack, break, or become brittle from outdoor exposure if it is not properly treated. Because of its toughness, HDPE is highly resistant to breakage or “wearing out” like some other plastics or other materials used in patio furniture.
#4 Pro: HDPE outdoor furniture won't blow away in high winds
At some point, you may experience high winds in your backyard or patio space. When this does happen, you don’t want your furniture moving around or falling over due to the winds – your furniture may break. Fortunately, HDPE patio furniture is typically used to make heavier outdoor furniture, but not so heavy you can’t move it. For example, outdoor furniture made by POLYWOOD is heavy-duty and can weigh 30lbs or more depending on the furniture piece. So, if you expect high winds in your backyard or outdoor living space, you should expect HDPE furniture not to move around.
#5 Pro: HDPE is designed to endure all seasons and all climates
Are you concerned about your patio furniture holding up during the winter? What about lasting through the heat of the summer or staying outside near saltwater? One of the best things about HDPE outdoor furniture is that it can truly withstand nearly any season, any climate, all year long, for many years. This type of patio furniture is as close as you can get to a ‘set and forget’ kind of patio furniture. However, if you can, we recommend that you protect your furniture with a cover when you are not using it to ensure the longevity of your furniture.
#6 Pro: HDPE outdoor furniture is low maintenance
Are you concerned about having enough time and dedication to maintaining your outdoor furniture? Luckily, HDPE materials typically require little maintenance year-round. If you find dirt or dust on your furniture, you can simply use mild soap, water, and a soft-bristle brush to clean the patio furniture to keep it looking new. Given the high-weather resistance and durability of HDPE, this is a very easy-to-maintain patio furniture material, unlike other options like metal that might rust or wood that can rot or break.
#7 Pro: HDPE outdoor furniture is often made from recycled plastic
If you are looking for sustainable, environmentally-friendly outdoor furniture, you should seriously consider patio furniture made from HDPE. There are many recycled HDPE outdoor furniture options. For example, the HDPE material in POLYWOOD furniture comes from 99% recycled materials like milk jugs, detergent bottles, or other HDPE bottles and containers. Also, the all-weather HDPE wicker used in Outer’s wicker furniture comes from 30% recycled materials. Additionally, HDPE furniture is always 100% recyclable – you can recycle your furniture when it has reached the end of its useful life. So, if you want your outdoor furniture to be eco-friendly and sustainable, HDPE patio furniture is an excellent option.
#8 Pro: HDPE lumber doesn't need to be sanded, stained, or treated like real wood
You will find some HDPE outdoor furniture noted as being made from HDPE lumber (for example, POLYWOOD lumber). This is HDPE material made to look like real wood, but it is actually HDPE plastic. Natural wood can require some extra maintenance like sanding, staining, or treating with sealants and oils to ensure the durability and weather resistance of the wood. Although this HDPE lumber looks like real wood, this plastic material does not require the same treatment that wood needs. So, you get the look of wood, but with enhanced durability and less maintenance.
#9 Pro: HDPE is a reasonably priced, high-quality outdoor furniture material
As you search for outdoor furniture, you will find a wide range of prices. Several key factors can influence the price of furniture, which can be materials, style, cushions, and brand. Based on our analysis of nearly 1,200 patio furniture pieces, we find that most HDPE patio furniture options fall within a price range that can be considered a ‘good deal’ compared to other high-quality materials like teak and aluminum.
#10 Con: HDPE Wicker is typically more expensive than other resin wicker options
In our view, HDPE is one of the best plastic materials to make wicker patio furniture. It is very weather-resistant and highly durable and performs better than most other resin materials like LDPE and PU. As a result, you will find that this material is used in higher-quality wicker items that carry a higher price than other items made from “PE Rattan Wicker.” But, we feel that the higher price is justified given the material’s superior performance.
#11 Pro: Many brands have HDPE patio furniture options
You can find HDPE used to make nearly all patio furniture items: dining tables, sofas, loveseats, ottomans, chaise lounges, rocking chairs, coffee tables, Adirondack chairs, etc. Additionally, you can find these items designed in several styles to include modern, traditional, and transitional styles. And there are several brands and retailers like POLYWOOD that make a wide range of HDPE patio furniture and Outer that uses HDPE wicker. So, if you are interested in patio furniture made with HDPE, you can find many brands that use this material in patio furniture.
#12 Con: Not all brands make furniture with HDPE lumber
While you can find many retailers and brands that make furniture using HDPE materials, you will find that not all brands make furniture with HDPE lumber or a similar equivalent. So if you are looking for non-wicker HDPE patio furniture, more likely than not, you will need to look at specific brands like POLYWOOD to find a piece of outdoor furniture to meet your needs.
HDPE Patio Furniture Collection Options
If you’re in the market for new patio furniture made from HDPE, there are many options for you to choose from. Ashley Furniture’s Visola collection offers several pieces made from HDPE (read our Ashley Visola review here), and POLYWOOD has a wide range of outdoor items made from HDPE (read our POLYWOOD review here). Additionally, Outer’s wicker collection features items made with HDPE wicker (read our Outer review here).