There is no doubt that poly furniture has become one of the hottest categories in the outdoor living industry due to its low maintenance, durability, longevity and color choices. With so many different companies and manufacturers you may be wondering what your options are and which is the best for you?
It started with Polywood
Polywood Furniture, the brand, was the first to the industry. They began in the early 80’s in Indiana by recycling plastic and making their own own High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) lumber boards which they then milled and cut, just like wood, into durable outdoor furniture. They still maintain this process today of buying recyclable plastics, and making their own HDPE poly lumber. HDPE is used by all premium poly brands in addition to MGP (Marine Grade Polymer). HDPE is color fast, chemical resistant and non-porous, making it an ideal choice for exposure to the elements.
At Casual Furniture World, we find that the brand Polywood is very consumer-centric. Polywood focuses on designing their furniture to be value driven and hit ideal styles and price points as well as being widely available in the market across in-store, big box and ecommerce channels. Just as the term “elevator” actually began as a singular company and brand, the brand “Polywood” has become synonymous in the industry for all poly furniture. If you are looking for good poly furniture at some of the best values, then Polywood branded furniture may be for you.
Berlin Gardens, like Polywood (the brand) also uses HDPE lumber. However, they purchase the lumber (again, think wood boards) from one of the premium manufactures and suppliers in the industry, Tangent Lumber. You will find many premium poly furniture brands sourcing their raw poly lumber from Tangent and for good reason. Tangent lumber has a long history of providing durable, color fast, and innovative products for the outdoor living industry. At Casual Furniture World, we find that furniture made with Tangent lumber is slightly smoother than Polywood’s own lumber, with less pitting and grooves, making it a little easier to clean and a little less likely to trap dirt. Berlin Gardens, and other premium poly furniture brands, will focus their designs more on comfort and style, rather than price and value. You will often see larger lumber used and the addition of curves, contours and motion pieces.
Marine-Grade Polymer (MGP)
Marine Grade Polymer, or MGP, is the newest player to the outdoor living industry. Polywood, Berlin Gardens and even other aluminum furniture manufacturers such as Telescope Furniture, have begun integrating MGP into their designs and table tops. MGP, unlike HDPE, comes in large sheets (think plywood) and offers the same colorfastness, and durability as HDPE, with some of the smoothest finishes (less dirt) available. MGP, as the name suggests, has long been used and proven itself in the marine and boat building industry. Because of its large format and unique properties, manufacturers are able to curve arms and make solid surface table tops that cannot be done with HDPE.
Polystyrene has recently made an introduction in the outdoor living industry. You will often find it used on price point Adirondack chairs in the big box stores and marketed as “Poly Adirondack Chair”. Although polystyrene provides some of the same durability as HDPE and MGP, it is known to be rather brittle. This is not the ideal choice for furniture use as chair legs and support pieces can crack easily under pressure. It is often injected with air (up to 95%) making it more brittle, and more prone to color loss as the color is not as dense as other poly materials.