Aluminum vs Steel Patio Furniture

A gorgeous patio deserves to be enjoyed for a very long time and if you’re on the verge of picking your patio furniture, then continue to read on to learn the two most durable materials compare. 

Outdoor patio with black ecoating steel dining table chairs

Aluminum and steel patio furniture are your go-to materials when you are looking for a lifetime investment for your outdoor living. There are a lot of options to choose from, but nothing is more durable and long-lasting than metal materials.

They don’t expand or contract and their surface won’t easily crack under extreme weather conditions, while insects and decay are also not a concern.  But between the two most durable materials which are better to suit your needs?

Aluminum vs Steel Patio Furniture

Wood deck with aluminum furniture

Two metals that look similar but are very different materials. In comparison, steel is simply stronger than aluminum which prevents dents or any type of damage to its surface.

Though aluminum is not as dense and strong as steel, it is lighter. Its strength-to-weight ratio is 1/3 of the weight which means it’s easier to move around your patio furniture when an unexpected guest arrives or if you need to rearrange your seating layout once in a while. 

When it comes to corrosion resistance, steel excels due to the chromium additives that form an invisible film around the still and are non-porous.

Aluminum outdoor patio dining furniture

See this outdoor dining table at Pier 1. [sponsored link]

Aluminum on the other hand has high oxidization which means when it is exposed to air or any other oxidizing agent, it will immediately develop a thin hard film made of aluminum oxide.

The film protects the surface thus making aluminum corrosion-resistant. However, the oxidized surface can dull out the color of your furniture. To remove the pitted look, you can easily remove it by brushing it off with soap and water. 

Aluminum patio furniture does not conduct and retain much heat compared to other metals making it a practical choice if your outdoor area is in full exposure.

Steel on the other hand responds to heat or cold faster, so if your patio is located in a place that experiences extreme weather, you might want to consider another material or add some padding to these patio seats. 

When it comes to workability, steel is very easy to weld while aluminum can be a challenge but is easier to cut than steel. 

Stainless Steel Furniture Pros and Cons

Steel patio furniture with black electric coating

Steel patio furniture is very strong and because of its high density won’t easily be tipped off even with strong winds. If you can’t move or store your patio furniture when not used or during a stormy day, then stainless steel is a great choice.

Although resistant to rust and corrosion, better to apply a powder coating on the surface for added protection especially when your patio is near salty water. 

Pros: modern looking, strong, rust-resistant, sturdy, and durable. 

Cons: retains heat and cold, not easy to move, expensive 

Aluminum Furniture Pros and Cons

Aluminum patio furniture although not as durable as steel, is still a robust material for outdoor use.

An advantage of aluminum over steel and other materials is its malleability making it easier to work with. To add protection on its surface, add a polyester powder coating.

Aluminum accepts most paint and other wet applications making it possible to have intricate and complex patio furniture styles

Pros: Lightweight, affordable, low maintenance, easy to work with. 

Cons: Can be stolen easily, hollow or thin frames can buckle or fold from heavy weights.

Aluminum vs Steel Cost

Black steel outdoor patio furniture rockers with table See this set of black metal chairs at Amazon. [sponsored link]

Generally, furniture made from aluminum is cheaper than steel. For aluminum expect to pay an average of $1,150.00 for a 3-piece conversation set and $2,200 for a 4-piece patio set. Steel patio sets can start around $ 1,800.00 for a 3-piece conversation set and $,2,300 for a 4-piece patio set. 

Remember though that for your outdoor metal furniture, there is a wide range of prices that will depend on the size, design, material, and brand that you choose. The finish and added cushioning will also significantly add to the cost. Be sure to keep a clear budget in mind before purchasing. 

Possible Added Costs

Powder Coating: $200 to $2000 depending on the part which can either be a DIY or professional project. There are also instances when you’ll need to disassemble and reassemble some parts during the powder coating process. 

Cushioned Chairs: $800 to $2000 for quality cushioned chairs while it can cost as much as $1,800 to $3,000 for a quality sofa. 

Which is Better Aluminum or Steel for Outdoor Furniture?

It depends on your type of patio and needs as each material has its strengths and weaknesses. If you want an affordable yet durable option, aluminum is a great choice. Finish the surface with a powder coating to add strength and durability.

Steel is a great option if you want to have sturdy and robust outdoor living furniture that you can leave even under stormy weather.

If heat or cold retention is your concern with steel, choose to have it under a shade or add cushions and padding to your metal seats. 

Does Cast Aluminum Rust? 

Cast aluminum won’t rust because of its solid structure. As the term implies, melted aluminum is poured into a cast which then solidifies into the shape of its mold. There are some products made from metal tubes which compared to cast aluminum can easily rust with a substandard coating. 

Cast aluminum allows you to place it under the weather and you don’t need a refinishing job to maintain its rust resistance.

Small patio with powder coated steel furniture

Does Powder Coated Steel Rust? 

Powder-coated steel won’t rust as long as properly prepared before a full coat is applied. It is also important to have a quality coating to prevent air or moisture from seeping through the coating.

There is a curing period for each layer of powder coat to make it more permeable and prevent cracks on the surface coat. 

What is your favorite when it comes to aluminum vs steel patio furniture? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. For more designs visit our page about enclosed patio ideas.

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5 Comments

  1. I’m voting for aluminum outdoor furniture as the best. It’s way easier to move around which is a big plus for me since I have a large patio. If it was steel I would probably throw my back out.

  2. Aluminum is clearly superior. It simply does not rust. Steel, no matter what coating applied, eventually either water vapor seeps in or there is a chip to the coating and your get rust under the coating creating a bubble appearance.

    Now, I take issue to the cost. Although Aluminum is cheaper than steel ($0.08 per ounce vs $0.55/oz steel – as of this writing august 2021), aluminum patio furniture tends to be more expensive. This is the reason Im on this site in the first place.

  3. I am looking at outdoor chaise lounges for my pool area
    The chaise I am looking at is made or distributed by Roiyieir and it says it is cast aluminum rust resistant . When I look closer in the description it says it has a steel frame. I do not understand how it can be cast aluminum with a steel metal frame.

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