Metal furniture is a popular choice of furnishings, especially used outdoors for decks and patios. However, metal furniture can also be used indoors, such as brass beds, brass tables, iron bakers racks and metal curio cabinets. Besides being sturdy, metal furniture is attractive, giving a contemporary look to your home. To make it stand out, all it takes is a good polishing to give it added charm and character.
Durability is the main advantage of metal furniture. For example, not many types of non-metal furniture can remain outside during winter and still look good when spring arrives. If cared for properly, metal furniture can last up to 30 years. Because most metal furniture is treated for rust and heat resistance, it doesn't need much maintenance.
Types of Metals
Usually metal furniture is made from either steel or aluminum. To tell aluminum from steel, place a magnet on a metal surface and if it is steel it will stick. Steel furniture is typically pricier when it's used as furniture, with the price varying according to the type of metal and thickness. However, it's hard to identify it after a finish is applied. Steel has low, medium or high carbon, with most metal furniture being made with low carbon because it's cheaper than a higher grade of carbon. Stainless steel is good for low maintenance. Made of an alloy of carbon, iron and other metals, its main reason for its strength is because of chromium, which protects from rust and corrosion because of its thin film of oxide on the surface. Wrought iron is good for garden furniture, providing a classic look. However, it's heavy, which is a challenge, but appreciated on windy days. It needs much care, though, and can easily rust and corrode if not waterproofed. Aluminum is more common than steel furniture, mostly because it doesn't rust, although it oxidizes, turning into a chalky white. It's also lighter than steel, making it more desirable. Caste and heavy tube aluminum give better quality. Aluminum has to be thicker than steel if it is to have as much strength. Tubular aluminum is flexible and hollowing, besides less sturdy. However, its lightness makes for an ideal poolside furniture and is mainly used for benches, folding chairs and swing sets.
Types of Finishes
Choosing the right finish metal furniture is important because of its durability. Some of the most common ones include chrome plating, plastic, painted, brass and anodized finishes. Chrome plating, although durable, is thin and if damaged where it's exposed to air, scratches can rust. Plastic-coated finishes are synthetically made and good as they prevent rusting or the metal changing color from air exposure. Although they're as strong as paint finishes, they don't hold up as well as electroplated finishes. Paint finishes are for both steel and aluminum furniture, although it easily scratches and rusts. Brass plating, which is an electroplated finish, is applied in a bath and is durable. Solid brass is both pricey and rare. To decide if a finish is solid brass put a magnet on the furniture and if it clings, it's solid brass. Coat it with a clear plastic finish. Anodized finishes are used on aluminum furniture because aluminum oxidizes. Available in colored or clear, anodized finishes are hard-to-durable because it's difficult to scratch and it will wear through because it's thin.
When selecting metal furniture, consider coat and finish, ensuring the surface is powder coated--which doesn't need maintenance--and the finish isn't just painted onto the furniture but baked into the metal. Also, consider your climate. For example, if you live in a rainy area, you'll want furniture with heavy waterproofing and light enough to carry indoors. For hot climates, consider that aluminum retains heat, so you can't use it until it cools down.
Often people consider metal furniture with being uncomfortable, as images of "metal" conjure up cold, hard-backed chairs as well as cold, shiny surfaces. However, it's easy to add cushions and upholstery to make the furniture comfy, as well as attractive. Also, adding some simple curves also adds to comfort as many types of metal furniture manufacturers have done.
If you're not using your metal furniture for a long period of time, cover it with plastic or vinyl sheets for protection. Also, be quick to repair any scratches or chips before they start to rust.
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