You may be in the market for new outdoor lounge chairs or outdoor chaise lounge for your patio or outdoor space. If this is your first time shopping for a chaise lounge, you may be overwhelmed with the different options. If that is the case, this article is for you! This article details the advantages of the three common types of outdoor chaise lounges that you will find: plastic, wood, and sling.
To find out which outdoor chaise lounge chairs are right for you, continue reading below!
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What is an Outdoor Chaise Lounge Chair?
“Chaise” is the French word for chair, and chaise lounge (or also listed as “chaise longue”) translates to “long chair,” and the proper pronunciation is “shez long.” A chaise lounge is a long piece of furniture designed to support your whole body with your feet and legs propped up by the furniture. Outdoor chaise lounges generally feature an adjustable back that may help you sit up, recline, or lay flat. Some chaise lounges may have armrests that provide additional support and comfort.
Chaise lounges can be a great addition to any outdoor space, pool area, and patio as they provide a place to rest and relax in the sun in warmer weather. Not only are they comfortable, but they can also add some style to your patio or backyard. Review our article on key considerations, advantages, and drawbacks of chaise lounges for more detailed information on what outdoor chaise lounge chairs are.
Why Compare Plastic, Wood, or Sling Chaise Lounges?
The key characteristic of a chaise lounge chair is that the chair is designed to support your whole body in a seated, reclined, or completely flat position. This means that your whole body will be in contact with three primary support materials used in various outdoor chaise lounges: plastic, wood, or sling. These materials will directly impact the comfort and longevity you experience with your chaise lounge.
Plastic Chaise Lounges
Plastic chaise lounges are probably the most popular type of chaise lounge on the market and can be found in various colors, shapes, and sizes. This can also include wicker chaise lounges, as the wicker is a form of plastic that you sometimes see labeled as resin wicker. Additionally, you will find that plastic chaise lounges are made from a variety of plastics: polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), etc. The one we recommend that you shop for is HDPE. This is one of the most durable and weather-resistant plastics that you can use in your backyard, and we lay out all of the pros and cons of HDPE for you to know about this plastic material in this article. This is the material used in high-quality plastic outdoor furniture like POLYWOOD.
Wood Chaise Lounges
Wooden chaise lounges are a popular choice for outdoor furniture as they are often more stylish and elegant than plastic or sling chaise lounges. Like plastics, many different types of wood can be used to make an outdoor chaise lounge like acacia, teak, eucalyptus, mahogany, etc. The one material that we highly recommend is teak. Teak, in our opinion, is the most durable and weather-resistant outdoor wood material available on the market.
Sling Chaise Lounges
Outdoor sling patio furniture (which includes chaise lounges) is made from synthetic fabrics that are stretched across the frame of furniture to provide seated support of the furniture. Often the synthetic material is polyester coated with vinyl (like PVC) which is often called textiline. You can also find sling furniture made with other fabric materials like Sunbrella. Additionally, our experience finds that most outdoor sling furniture is made with a metal frame, yet you can find some wood options for various outdoor furniture pieces.
Note: We will simply assume that most sling outdoor chaise lounges have a metal frame for this comparison.
The synthetic fabrics used in sling chaise lounges are often more comfortable than the wood or plastic materials used in other types of outdoor chaise lounges. This is due to the fact that the fabric will contour to your body and provide a more forgiving seating experience.
Want more comfort for your plastic or wooden chaise lounge? Add a cushion.
If you’re looking for extra comfort while lounging in the sun, consider adding a cushion to your outdoor chaise lounge. Cushions can add an extra layer of padding and support, making it more comfortable to relax on your chaise lounge for extended periods of time. Additionally, cushions come in a variety of colors and styles, so you can find one that will match the look of your chaise lounge and outdoor space. Also, you can find high-quality cushions made from highly durable materials like Sunbrella that can last many seasons in your backyard.
One of the greatest aspects of a sling is that it is highly porous, meaning that water will run easily through the material. Any moisture left on the sling can be easily wiped away. Plastic and wood chaise lounges, on the other hand, will likely have water and moisture pool on top of the material until it is wiped off or dries.
Additionally, some materials will better resist moisture-related damage depending on the actual frame material (the type of plastic, wood, or metal) used in the chaise lounge. So look for product descriptions that state water-resistant, rust-resistant, or mold or mildew-resistant. Additionally, if your chaise lounge has a metal frame, ensure the metal has a powder-coated finish, as this will help prevent rusting and corrosion of the metal. In all, three of the best water-resistant materials are HDPE (plastic), teak (wood), and aluminum (metal). Please read our complete comparison of HDPE, teak, and aluminum.
Sun & Heat
Winner: Slight edge to plastic and wood
Neither plastic, wood, or sling should get too hot to the touch or uncomfortable in the direct sun. The only reason that plastic and wood finish ahead of sling is that the metal frame that supports the majority of sling chaise lounges can likely get hot to the touch and may be uncomfortable if it is too hot.
Again, some materials are better at resisting UV and heat-related damage. So look for product descriptions that state the material is UV-resistant or fade resistant. As stated before, three of the best materials to look for in a chaise lounge are HDPE (plastic), teak (wood), and aluminum (metal) because these are highly weather-resistant, which includes being highly UV-resistant.
Winner: Depends on the material
Durability is a tricky category because it depends on the material used in the construction of the chaise lounge. Some types of plastic, wood, and metal are more durable than others (the most durable materials will be HDPE, teak, and aluminum), while sling is susceptible to tearing if caught on something sharp. With that being said, if you’re looking for a chaise lounge that will last for many years, you should consider a plastic or wood option.
Also, if you choose to add cushions to your chaise lounge, make sure you get cushions with highly durable material. Sunbrella and olefin cushions are also highly durable and can last for seasons if adequately taken care of. Please read our review on these popular materials and why they are highly durable.
Maintenance & Care
Winner: Slight edge to sling and plastic
We are not trying to sound like a broken record, but the maintenance and care of your chaise lounge will depend on the actual material. In general, most outdoor materials can easily be cleaned with just a soft bristle brush, mild soap, and warm water. However, some materials may require additional care to maintain the condition of the patio furniture. For example, some woods require regular applications of sealant or oil to ensure the durability and weather-resistance of the wood.
One significant advantage of plastic and sling chaise lounges is that they are often lightweight and easy to move around. So this should make taking care of these outdoor chaise lounges easier than a comparable wooden chaise lounge which will likely be heavier.
Winner: Plastic and Wood
You will find that there will be plenty of eco-friendly plastic and wood outdoor chaise lounges to choose from as you shop for your next purchase of outdoor chaise lounge chairs. For example, HDPE chaise lounges can be made from recycled materials, and some woods are FSC-certified, meaning that they have been sustainably sourced. But this doesn’t mean that sling chaise lounges can’t be eco-friendly. If you buy a chaise lounge with an aluminum frame, then this is an eco-friendly option as aluminum is highly recyclable.
Winner: Slight edge to sling
Typically, you will find that sling chaise lounges are the cheapest option, with plastic as a close second, followed by wooden chaise lounges. This is likely because the material for sling chaise lounges is much less expensive than other materials. You can find some relatively low-cost plastic and wood chaise lounge options, but what you get in cost savings you may pay for in quality. You can review our complete price analysis of outdoor furniture to find the price range of a chaise lounge.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing the best outdoor chaise lounge. It really depends on your needs and preferences. If you are looking for a highly durable and weather-resistant chaise lounge, then a high-quality plastic or wood option may be the best choice for you. If you want an inexpensive but comfortable option, a sling chaise lounge could be the best option for you. If you want that best of all options, you should invest in a high-quality plastic or wood chaise lounge with highly durable cushions.