Here's a hard truth: not all outdoor furniture is created equal. We can all enjoy the vision of a backyard patio or pool deck filled with pristine, splinter-less furnishings that keep every family member and guest in total comfort. But that's not how things work in reality. Far too often, freshly purchased wood furniture begins to rot away after just a few seasons, and within mere years can become a mess that's developing splinters in some areas and has grown all too-soft in others. Sadly, it's no longer going to serve as anyone's first choice of seat.
"But surely, there must be another way," you may ask. We're glad you hypothetically did, because we have an one-word answer for you: teak.
You've probably come across it in the form of a chaise lounge beside an outdoor pool, or maybe on the deck of a handsome racing boat. There's a reason why teak wood is so often found in outdoor furniture, and near bodies of water: it's long been famous for its ability to resist water and the elements. And as anyone who's ever owned a piece of furniture exposed to constant rainfall can relate, that's quite an important quality.
The teak tree, which is native to South East Asia, has these qualities because of its tight grain, impressive strength, and high concentration of natural oils. These natural qualities have made it a staple in boat building since the days of the Roman Empire. In our view, any material that's been prized since before the timeline switched from B.C. to A.D. is worth a look.
But the remarkable qualities of teak furniture go far beyond water-resistance. In addition to making it weatherproof, the natural oils found in teak wood also make it impervious to damage caused by termites and other pests. For these reasons, teak can be counted among the most durable woods nature provides.
However, that oil doesn't deflect rain. Teak can still get wet, but unlike other woods it will not rot. Teak will develop a beautiful, silver-grey patina from prolonged exposure to the elements. Many consider this natural patina to be one of teak's best aspects, but if you wish to preserve its initial appearance you can apply a sealer to the furniture.
Now that we've gotten through the fun part—all those positive advantages—we'll have to get to the downside: price.
It's no secret that teak is pricey. Some of that has to do with the desirable qualities we mentioned above, but its cost is also tied to its slow grow time, which is lethargic even by tree standards. On average, a teak tree must grow for 20 or more years until it can be used for furniture. The cost is also impacted by regulations implemented by major teak-growing nations, like Indonesia and Myanmar, in order to prevent the over-harvesting of teak trees. That may drive up the cost of an Adirondack chair, but it's a small price to pay when the alternative is harmful deforestation. If the choice is between convenience and conservation, we will happily choose the latter every time.
If you're looking to outfit your outdoor balcony with teak furniture, a set of teak chaise lounges will always be a safe bet. When it comes to furnishing a fire pit, you may want a couple of Adirondack chairs (just be sure to position them so that the fire pit can still be reached by s'mores sticks). And if you simply have a small, outdoor space that's in need of some sitting room, freestyle your own mix of teak chaise lounges, teak Adirondack chairs, teak end tables and whatever else fits the needs of your own backyard.