I am just winding up a lovely month at the Gulf; right now I am sitting on the balcony, watching the sunlight sparkle off the wide open sea (although, technically, I guess the Gulf of Mexico is a bay – but it’s BIG so I am calling it the ocean). Anyway, temperate breezes are ruffling my beach hair (which is like bed head without one ounce of sex appeal), sea birds are crying in the distance, a sailboat drifts across the horizon, and I am at peace, content, tranquil in this pseudo-womb of water noises and warmth. Then I happen to notice the metal roof above my head is showing signs of rust; the wooden decking is worn and warped, the latch on the stairs is corroded and the furniture I am sitting on, while it’s in good shape and solid wood, is beginning to show signs of weathering. In fact, the small table at my side has started to fall apart. (Oh look a dolphin!) There are so many great alternatives that will take on the salt, the sand, and the moisture and will give you your money’s worth by providing you with seasons of enjoyment.
Wood furniture is rarely a good idea for the beach, unless, of course, you go with teak. A wood that is literally “seaworthy” like teak (it has been used in ship-building for centuries) is a great choice for seaside furniture. Teak is resistant to moisture and insect damage, however the color will fade; if you want to maintain that original golden hue you will need to treat it with linseed oil, otherwise embrace the silvery gray color it will adopt.
Another material you will want to avoid is steel and its cousin wrought iron; generally I have nothing against either – they can both be heavy-duty and super durable. But they can also rust, making them less than stellar choices for the beach; even though better quality steel and wrought iron furniture can be maintained with a lot of TLC; neglect it and you will have what appears to be a ship-wrecked relic at the end of the summer.
So what are your best options for beachside furniture? Aluminum is an obvious choice; it doesn’t rust and generally wears well. Cast aluminum or extruded aluminum are both suitable for the seashore; check to make sure that the hardware is stainless steel, and a well-applied powder-coat finish will ward off some of the effects of the sun.
Another excellent choice is to go green with 100% recycled poly furniture like the collections offered by Berlin Gardens. Recycled milk jugs make incredibly strong and long-lasting “lumber” – it won’t splinter, rot, or peel and it’s fade-resistant to boot. It’s also amazingly comfortable, even without a cushion. It comes in happy, beachy colors, like pacific blue and kiwi green as well.
Marine grade polymer is another excellent choice for beachside patio furniture; the words “marine grade” kind of give it away. This is another plastic material that is particularly suited to survive that special combination of salt and sand and sea that can be so destructive. Like recycled poly lumber, it has none of the unfortunate properties of wood and will maintain its beauty and functionality for a long time.
While the beach may be good for the soul, it is not so great for patio furniture; make your beach experience the best it can be with casual furnishings especially suited for that particularly harsh environment.