Monday, September 10, 2007

Cast Wrought Aluminum Furniture

Whenever I think of metal patio furniture, I think of the cheap flimsy chair that aunt Mary sat on that just slowly folded to the ground under her. Of course, Aunt Mary did weigh around 200 pounds, but a decent chair should be able to support that. But the metal outdoor furniture has come a long way since I was a small child. Much of the better quality outdoor patio furniture is cast wrought aluminum furniture.

The most common metal outdoor furniture is made from iron or cast wrought aluminum furniture, although the use of steel, especially stainless steel, is growing.
Metal is fashioned into furniture in one of three main ways by extrusion, casting, and welding. Extrusion forces melted metal through long pipes and forms long narrow tubes of metal, sometimes solid, but often hollow.

Casting metal involves creating a form or cast that is shaped like the finished product. Then the molten metal is poured into the form and then the form is removed when the metal has solidified. Cast pieces are almost always solid.

Forging is a process in which metal is heated and hammered into shape to produce the type of furniture known as "wrought" metal. It uses pipes and various solid pieces of the metal and joins them together by welding or bolting.

Aluminum is a silvery, lightweight and easily worked metal that never rusts. Much of the early aluminum furniture from the 1960s was made from hollow-core extrusion tubing. Such furniture was extremely lightweight but not exceedingly wind-stable nor particularly sturdy. It weight limitations were very low approximately 130 lbs. The frames bending under the weight of a 180 pound man was a common occurrence. Such flimsy pieces are still available today but I do not recommend their use. Inexpensive plastic outdoor furniture is in the same price range and somewhat sturdier.
cast wrought aluminum furniture is a much better choice for use in outdoor dining or sitting areas.

If you are considering purchasing extruded, cast or wrought aluminum items, there are a few things to look for that indicates a quality piece. Joints should be welded preferably full-circumference welds rather than bolted. If bolts are used to connect webbing, they should be made of aluminum or stainless steel. Otherwise they will begin to rust even though the main frame does not.
The best quality cast wrought aluminum furniture pieces have a powder-coated finish that determines the final color of the piece and the durability of the metal. Powder coating is a process in which colorful polyester powders are applied and then baked onto the frame.

Vinyl webbing or straps used on cast wrought aluminum furniture needs to have been processed with mildew inhibitors and ultraviolet stabilizers. Any wooden pieces mounted on aluminum frames should be treated with a waterproof finish to guarantee durability.

Suntan oils, human perspiration, car exhaust and salt spray can all eat away at the powder coating on cast wrought aluminum furniture. To ensure long life, clean the aluminum furniture at least twice a month with a solution of mild dish detergent and warm water. Rinse well. You can then apply paste car wax to any smooth finish frames for added protection.

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