Wicker is a woven 'fabric' of varying fiber dating back at least to ancient Egypt. Except for size of the materials used, it is identical to the methods used to make baskets and mats going back to the Stone Age. The most common use for wicker today is furniture.
Woven wood and reed furniture was found in Pompeii, depicted on Egyptian murals, used by roman emperors to create their own royal style of furniture. Wicker came across the sea on the Mayflower.
Outdoor wicker chairs can be made of rattan (a type of palm); bamboo or other cane; willow switches; some varieties of reed; or now, even plastic resin. They are comfortable, homey and lightweight. They can be spray painted, but most prefer the natural color of the materials used. Well-made wicker furniture is low maintenance and long lasting.
Outdoor wicker chairs have changed over the generations. Currently, they have a clean, contemporary, utilitarian look. Curves are small, and the framework is often stackable. The Victorian era was more extravagant in terms of wicker furniture and gave us the flamboyant fan backed 'throne' made famous by the Addams Family. This era also gave us the heavy, thick, extremely curved, 'overstuffed chair' look that caused wicker to suffer a massive decrease in popularity.
The mid-1800's is considered the start of American wicker furniture and is generally credited to Cyrus Wakefield. He began by using discarded rattan that had been used to secure cargo aboard transoceanic voyages. He found great amounts of it on the docks, and once that was used up, began importing it by the ship load.
The next great wave in wicker was automation. Machines that did the weaving were faster and reduced the cost for both the manufacturer and the customer. As mentioned earlier, plastic resins can now imitate most natural fibers and are often less expensive and just as strong. Then in the early 1900's came the Lloyd Loom Process which used paper wrapped high tensile wire to imitate the natural fibers. They can also be used in a finer weave to make a more comfortable seating for outdoor wicker chairs.
The south had their own take on wicker, using local canes to form the seats and backs of chairs that were not only strong and comfortable, but had the added benefit of airflow in those sultry climates. Nearly all families, richest to poorest had their own 'cane-back' chairs gracing porches and non-formal dining areas.
Whether you prefer natural or man made fibers, outdoor wicker chairs are a good investment for long-lasting comfort and style. Look for strong, tight weave; if looking at natural fibers, make sure there are not a lot of split or broken fibers. Styles of wicker chairs include upright, Adirondack, deep seating, rockers, even chaise lounges. For additional comfort and longevity, many people use waterproof cushions and decorative covers for their wicker furniture.
Wicker chairs and sets can be used indoors as well to give an exotic, tropical look to your decor.
One of the great things about Adirondack Chairs is you can do so much with them. Whether you use them indoors to create a beachside retreat or outdoors for entertaining, they are one of the most versatile and flexible forms of seating invented.
Painted Adirondack Chairs are particularly popular these days. And given the artistic nature of the artists who paint them, one can understand why.
Available in a rainbow of colors, painted Adirondack Chairs allow you to show your sense of style, your sense of humor or your passion for your favorite pastime. The artisans who paint these chairs cover nearly every subject imaginable, from the scenic to the whimsical.
For example, if you have a passion for fishing, you can order painted Adirondack Chairs featuring a big mouth bass or big game sailfish jumping out of the water. Love to dive? There are painted Adirondack Chairs filled with clownfish and seahorses. You'll even find sea life "swimming" on the arm rests.
If you're a budding beach bum, there are plenty of painted Adirondack Chairs with beach scenes or flip flops climbing up the chair's back.
Of course, that's just the beginning. Artists have rendered just about every subject imaginable on painted Adirondack Chairs, including ladybugs, butterflies, parrots, hunting scenes, big game and for those Independence Day celebrations, an American flag, complete with regal eagle emblazoned on it.
If you live beachside or near any artist communities, you're likely to come across some local folk art in the guise of painted Adirondack chairs. Many local artists use these wood chairs as a canvas, creating their own visual wonders on the backs, seats, sides and arms. These are extremely prized possessions and you'll want to make sure that these chairs are protected from the elements. After all, you wouldn't leave a Picasso out in a raging storm.
Speaking of painted Adirondack Chairs, if you're artistic you can do the same thing as the local folk artists do. Simply buy a basic chair and paint it yourself. If you can use the paint on wood, you can certainly use it to make your own painted Adirondack Chairs. They not only make a great addition to your home, but prized gifts to others. And an unpainted chair costs far less than one painted by another artist.
Just be sure you prime the wood first. If you're used to painting on wood as a medium, then you already know this. And you'll want to make sure you add a layer of lacquer over the paint to add durability. Nothing's worse than spending hours toiling over your work of art than to have someone sit down in your chair and rub some of your design off.
As you can see, painted Adirondack Chairs can add a lot of character to your home. They can reflect your own unique personality, interests or viewpoints in amazing ways. They are one of the few works of art that you can settle into and enjoy, not only as the work of art that it is, but as a pretty comfortable piece of furniture too.
Just like your indoor furniture, outdoor patio furniture needs a little tender loving care now and then to keep it clean and comfortable year round. There's been some mystery surrounding the cleaning of cushions. While there's lots of information about keeping the wood or steel surfaces of patio furniture clean, cleaning cushions hasn't gotten as much press. The good news is that it's not that hard to keep your cushions in top form. There are plenty of great cleaners out on the market that are made especially for outdoor furniture and familiar household cleaning solutions will do the trick, too. The first order of business is to get all the stains out of the cushions. Usually, stains can be removed with a mixture of two tablespoons of baking soda to a half gallon of hot water. Using a brush with fairly stiff bristles, work the solution into the stain. Let it set for a while, the wash it thoroughly. Keep repeating this process until the stain is removed. If there are really tough stains you can try lemon juice and vinegar. Add about a half cup of each to a cup of hot water and rub it into the stain with a brush. This works well when there is a buildup of mold or mildew or other tough stains. Once all the stains are removed you can either use a commercial cleaner or the baking soda mixture mentioned above to thoroughly clean the entire cloth cushion. If that doesn't do the trick, you can use commercial cleaners. Before you do check the manufacturer's tag first to see their recommendations. Some cleaning agents can weaken the fabric or cause the color to wash out or become spotty. When the entire cushion looks clean, wash it once more to remove all the cleaning solution. Hang the cushions up and let them dry completely in the sun. For tough mold and mildew, you can also use a chorine bleach solution.
Mix a quarter cup of chlorine bleach with a gallon of water. Dab the solution onto the stain or use a spray bottle to apply it. Saturate the entire area well, then let it sit for 60 seconds. Rinse the cloth patio furniture with clean water. Once the surface is dry, add a light coat or two of spray-on fabric sealant made specifically for outdoor furnishings. Cloth cushions aren't made to weather the elements. While the sealant will add a certain measure of water resistance to the cushions, continual exposure to sun and rain can cause the fabric to fade and break down over time. Another enemy of cloth cushions is suntan lotion and oil. If you have friends or family who want to get in a little sun time, make sure they place a towel on the cushion first to soak up any extra oil or lotions. These can cause stains that can be difficult if not impossible to remove from the cushions, even with commercial cleansers and a lot of time and effort. At the end of each season, it's a good idea to completely clean your cloth cushions from top to bottom. Make sure they are stain free first, then give the entire cushion a full cleaning. Let it dry, add a weather resistant coating, then allow to dry again. Once your cushions are completely dried, store them in a corner of your garage or storage shed that won't get damp during inclement weather. Never put your cloth cushions in a plastic container or bag. This will almost guarantee that they will be mildewed and moldy when you go to look for them at the first sign of a warm, sunny day.
When you find a bargain during a patio furniture sale, you can experience one of the best feelings on earth - The Find.
As you know, finding the right patio furniture for your home takes a bit of legwork, research, time and effort. But it's well worth the wait when you finally do.
While you could go out and pay full price (and it's perfectly acceptable to do so when you find the furniture that is just what you wanted), getting furniture at a patio furniture sale is an equally smart strategy.
It just takes a little extra work. That's because the selection is a little less predictable in a patio furniture sale. Often, retailers will put items up for sale that are moving more slowly than anticipated, are overstocked or simply need to be moved out the door because new styles and models are arriving soon.
There's nothing wrong with these pieces. They are just as well made and fashionable as they were before they were put on sale. In contrast to the traditional scratch and dent section of a furniture store, these furnishings are brand new and priced to move.
Often you'll find name brand offerings at 10% to 50% off or more at a patio furniture sale. This is particularly true with online retailers, which may offer free shipping as well to even the playing field with neighborhood retailers.
Shopping for a great patio furniture sale online has the added advantage that you don't have to drive from one store to another in search of the right furniture for your deck, patio or balcony. You can enter search phrases such as "patio furniture sale" or "patio furniture clearance" to find those online stores running sales.
Rather than wading through a showroom of cramped furniture on clearance, you can narrow your search further on the site. For example, you can look at patio furniture that is just teak or comb through patio furniture sale items that are under $500. The search options allow you to save time and money by finding just what you're looking for.
Alternately, you can click on the Shopping tab on http://google.com and use its intuitive search feature to find just what you're looking for. You can even enter the same search phrases. The main difference is their shopping section will kick back a wide range of retailers you may not have even thought of if you were to do your own online search.
To aid you in your search for the bargain of a lifetime, here's some helpful tips to make your journey much more fruitful.
1. Don't be too particular as you begin your search. If you want an exact style or piece of furniture, you may find you'll be frustrated in your search. Be open to what you're looking for.
2. Be patient. Sale items change all the time. The very item you couldn't find yesterday may be offered at a deep discount today. And that great patio furniture sale item may be online, not in a store.
3. Be sure you factor in shipping. Some retailers charge a lot of money to ship your item to you, driving up the cost significantly.
4. Do your homework. Decide general styles you like or manufacturers you are drawn to. Use these as the basis of your search.
5. Comparison shop. There are only so many manufacturers of patio furniture and you may discover that the piece you really want is actually a featured item at a patio furniture sale.
6. Be sure to review the return policy and warranty on any items being offered in a patio furniture sale. Some stores have liberal terms; others will charge you a restocking fee.
Most important, enjoy the adventure of a good sale. Thanks to today's robust search tools and bounty of retailers, finding the right piece of furniture at the right price is easier than ever.
An enclosed canopy with sidewalls can make your life easier and they are very versatile. They are lightweight, and they can be used for a wide variety of enclosure needs. You have probably seen them before and not given too much thought to them. But perhaps you have an event that requires you to work in an enclosed area. Perhaps you are entertaining guest in the warmer months, and you would like a way to be covered and protected bugs. Or, perhaps you'd like to purchase a couple of enclosed canopies to store some belongings in, or to park your vehicle under.
The enclosed canopy with sidewalls are tall enough to allow people to have head space when they are standing up. These can be purchased in the size of a booth. These are commonly used in fairs. For example, if people are selling food or drinks, then they will want to work in enclosed canopies. This keeps the flies out of their food and drinks. This also keeps the sun off of the workers, so that they can maintain their energy levels better.
Canopies with closed off sides also are created to be wider as well. Some of these are as wide as a living room space. These are used for many arts and craft displays. These can also be used to display vehicles at fairs and outdoor shows. The enclosed walls protects the vehicles from the sun, and the enclosed walls also help to keep the people inside from being burned from the sun. The material used for these canopies is heavy enough to keep the outdoor elements out, but is also light enough to be portable as well.
Some people purchase these because they have a vehicle that needs protection, but the vehicle owner might not have the funds or the space to construct a garage. It might be easier for them to protect their vehicle with an enclosed canopy with sidewalls. Then again, some people might want to use these enclosed canopies for storage space of certain items. Instead of keeping them in a professional storage unit, it's cheaper to buy an enclosed canopy to keep their belongings in.
The great thing about these canopies is that they are completely portable. They fold up in a very compact way when they are not in use. These can prove to be very efficient methods of protecting people in outdoor conditions, vehicles from the sun and the rain, and they are cost efficient methods of storing personal belongings.
When it comes to outdoor furniture, it's a good idea to go with something that doesn't require constant upkeep. There are usually more than enough other patio chores to be done without having to worry about treating wood furniture or other high maintenance items.
The ideal patio furniture can be left out during just about any kind of weather and doesn't rust or rot from moisture. It should also be available in the look you want and add to the ambiance of your deck without making the place look cheap. There are several options that fit this profile.
This is a very lightweight metal that has been used for years as the base of patio furniture. While you may be imagining those hollow tube lounge chairs that are laced with plastic lacing, aluminum has come a long way. These days, it is available in more sophisticated designs that are easy to move and maintain.
While plastic never really looks high class, there are definitely some nice sets of plastic patio furniture out there. Plastic tends to be more fragile than metal options, however, so if you do decide to go this route, be sure to choose nice sturdy furniture.
Plastic resists rain, but it can't be left out in freezing weather, so it will need to be brought inside during the winter. Fortunately, most patio furniture of this type stacks very well for storage. It's also very easy to wipe clean and usually doesn't stain.
For a truly low maintenance material for patio furniture, nothing beats wrought iron. It's strong, beautiful and requires nothing but the occasional cleaning. It can be left outside all year round without ill effect, too, meaning there is no lugging furniture around and trying to find a place to store it during the winter.
Wrought iron is also crafted into some very nice furniture and comes in several colors, with black being the most common. It is extremely easy to clean, as well.
Most wood isn't appropriate for year round outdoor use, but teak is a rare find. You'll pay more for it, but it's well worth the investment. This is a wood with a protective oil that helps keep the wood in excellent condition, no matter what the weather. It was originally used on ship decks, since it would withstand any element and once the ships were torn down, the teak was in such great condition that it could still be reused as furniture.
If you just don't like the look of metal or want something softer, teak is an excellent choice. It has also been successfully combined with wrought iron to create some truly beautiful furniture that is still amazingly low maintenance.
If you choose to go with one of these materials for your patio furniture, you have the option of adding cushions to make the furniture a bit more comfortable. Cushions require a bit more care, so many people opt not to use them with their outdoor furniture.
However, there are some cushions that are actually quite low maintenance and can help you sit more comfortably on metal chairs. These cushions will need to be brought inside during winter, but you can get ones that have been sealed, or seal the fabric yourself with a spray and they will resist most rain and won't mold like other fabric left outside.
Choosing the best outdoor furniture for your patio might take a little time, but in the end it will be worth it. You'll have furniture that can withstand the elements and requires nothing apart from the occasional wiping to get rid of dust and fallen leaves. Low maintenance patio furniture is the best way to go.