Buyer Beware: Brown rattan outdoor furniture

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Synthetic weave furniture, also called all-weather wicker, can be an excellent investment for our homes in Mexico.

Unfortunately, not all manufacturers make synthetic weave furniture from the best material. Some manufacturers use cheap grades that are prone to crack and split very quickly after purchase. That’s why it is critical to know what materials the manufacturer uses to create any piece of furniture. You have worked hard for your money – the last thing you want to do is have to replace your outdoor furniture every year.

Unlike at our homes north of the border, this environment has direct sunlight and salty ocean air. These conditions mean that outdoor furniture does not last as long.

There are different types of synthetic materials. Some are extremely toxic. The options include cheap PVC (polyvinyl chloride), PP (polypropylene), PC (polycarbonate), PE (polyethylene). The best material in this category is called HDPE (High-density polyethylene).

Many of the synthetics available on the market in the outdoor furniture category use PVC. Not only is PVC a less durable choice because it will dry out and crack rapidly, but it also emits toxic compounds during construction and decomposition. What may appear to be a good deal at first could end up costing you financially. It could potentially also cause severe health issues.

So why do some stores sell low-grade plastic furniture?

Big box stores and department stores compete amongst each other based on lowest prices. Outdoor furniture manufacturers who supply to these retailers, many of whom are offshore in China and Taiwan, want to maintain their margins. They look for ways to save costs when producing their outdoor furniture. As a result, they often purchase the lowest cost materials regardless of the harmful effects or quality.

HDPE is the highest quality resin material. Its high density means that it will not break, scratch, or chip. It is also stain-resistant and 100% recyclable. Most HDPE outdoor furniture pieces are also infused with UV inhibitors so that they will not fade in direct sunlight. One of the other advantages of HDPE over lower grades of synthetic rattans is that the furniture will not stick to your skin.

How can you tell if that piece of outdoor furniture is low-quality synthetic or high-quality HDPE? One sign that the item is cheap vinyl material or low-grade synthetic is that it is shiny. Good quality synthetics are matte/flat.

To be sure the manufacturer made the furniture from the right resin, check its plastic resin identification code. You can generally locate this code on the packaging of the product. All HDPE items will display the HDPE code, which is a triangle made up of three arrows pointing clockwise and the #2 in the center of the triangle.

The easiest option is to purchase your outdoor furniture from a company that is knowledgeable about how it is made and with which materials.

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