Buyers Guide: Outdoor Garden Bench Types And Durability

Tips on the durability of various garden benches materials. Advice on choosing gardens decor.

A garden bench can be the finishing touch to your landscaping. You will have a place to sit and view the combined efforts of you and Mother Nature, something that stands out as a focal piece for your garden or tucked away in a peaceful spot for quiet moments.

The function of a garden bench may determine your choice of material. If it will be used regularly, you'll want it to be comfortable. If the bench is incorporated into the garden as part of the design, comfort won't necessarily need to be a consideration. But if it's actually a part of the garden, it will need to last a long time. Materials for outdoor furniture should be weather resistant, functional, durable, and require minimal maintenance. Some furniture will be a combination of one or more materials. Weight of the product will need to be considered if the bench needs to be moved for mowing or just because you didn't like it where it was.

Teak is the ideal for outdoor furniture. Impervious to weather, a teak bench will last for generations. It can be left outside year round and requires no more than a yearly scrubbing. Applying oil or stain when the piece is new will protect that new look but it's not necessary. The demand for teak, reflected in the price, has brought it to the point of endangerment in natural habitats, so buy only teak products that are clearly stated as being plantation grown. Baring unforeseen disasters, you'll never need to replace it.



Cedar is a popular choice for garden benches. Cedar is naturally insect resistant and weathers beautifully. Applying sealers or stains is optional. The natural color of cedar, red or white, blends well in a garden setting. It will require no more than a yearly cleaning unless you've chosen to apply a finish when it was new. That finish will need a new coat every year or two. Unfinished, this piece should last about fifteen years; finishing will add a few more years to the life of the wood.

Redwood varies in shades of reddish brown and holds up well for outdoor use. Redwood can be finished or sealed or left to weather, the most popular choice. This wood has an outdoor lifetime similar to cedar. Pine and poplar are also used for garden benches. Neither is as weather resistant and will require some type of finish. Sealers or stains can be used but paint is a good finish for either of these types of wood. Neither is as long lasting as teak, cedar or redwood, but regular care of the wood could bring it close.

Cast aluminum will last indefinitely. It will need to be painted every year or two as the existing paint begins to show wear. The up-side to this is that you can easily change the color with a can of spray paint. Resin is a plastic made of polypropylene and PVC. Many resin products are made from recycled gallon jugs. This is not your average lightweight plastic. This is pretty sturdy stuff, the same type of material used in park benches. It may never wear out.

A very light weight resin comes in colors, usually green or white. These are the least inexpensive benches but they will last three or more years. They do tend to stain and are difficult to clean. China oak is often combined with cast iron legs and arms to create an attractive bench. Oak doesn't hold up outside as well as other woods, but this is still a good looking bench that will last for many years. Sealing the wood as needed and using a cover to protect the wood from the weather will extend the life of this bench.

Concrete is long lasting but once it's put in place, it's there. Most concrete benches are made for industrial and commercial use, but many are available to the public. Color and texture is often added to concrete used for benches. Concrete may crack in extreme cold, so ask your supplier about using concrete in your particular climate. Specialty garden shops may carry concrete benches. There are a lot of choices. Some are expensive. Others are very heavy. Most are extremely durable. Try them out. Sit awhile. That should help with your decision on what to buy.

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