Outdoor Furniture Blog | Casual Furniture World

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Polywood vs. Berlin Gardens:  A Guide to Poly & Composite Patio Furniture

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
maybe wondering what your options are and which is the best for you?

It started with Polywood Outdoor Furniture

Polywood Patio Furniture, the brand, was the first in the industry.  They began in the early 80s in Indiana by recycling plastic and making their 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 colorfast, chemical resistant, and non-porous, making it an ideal choice for exposure to the elements. 

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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 quality poly furniture at some of the best values, then Polywood branded furniture may be for you.  We highly recommend you visit your local outdoor furniture dealer and sit in the different options they have before purchasing online.  Some of the overall styling, size and scale of the furniture can be a bit deceiving online.  

Berlin Gardens

Berlin Gardens, like Polywood (the brand), also uses HDPE lumber.  However, they purchase their poly lumber (again, think wood boards) from one of the premium manufacturers 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, colorfast, and innovative products for the outdoor living and marine industry.  At Casual Furniture World, we find that furniture made with Tangent lumber is slightly smoother than Polywood’s own lumber, making it slightly 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, larger-scale cushion groups, hidden hardware and joints, and the addition of curves, contours, and motion pieces.  If you are looking for some of the highest-quality and most comfortable poly furniture, we suggest that you might want to take a look at Berlin Gardens.  

Marine-Grade Polymer (MGP)

Marine Grade Polymer, or MGP,  is the newest player in the outdoor living industry.  Polywood, Berlin Gardens, and even other aluminum furniture manufacturers such as Telescope Furniture, have begun integrating MGP into their furniture designs and tabletops.  MGP, unlike HDPE, comes in large sheets (think plywood) and offers the same color fastness, 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

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.  

Want to see some examples?  Check out Casual Furniture World’s online selection of poly furniture


Or, just come to one of our 3 locations!  Find your local Casual Furniture World store.