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Steel patio furniture corrosion resistance?

A discussion started in 2005 & continuing through 2017


Q. As a patio furniture manager I am seeking detailed information as to what type of a customer should buy steel furniture based on their proximity to salt water. Can someone give me any information that I can pass along to explain why steel furniture rusts when the customer lives within 10 miles of salt water? My customers do not understand that although they do not live "by the ocean" they do live close enough for the salt to do damage. I would love some pro/con steel versus aluminum information about this subject so that I can better inform my customers from erroneous and expensive purchases. I have had no luck at all trying to find this information on the internet. If someone knows of a site that I can find this info, I will be eternally grateful.

Melissa Ciccone
[name of retail chain deleted by editor] - Neptune, New Jersey


Atmospheric factors affecting the corrosion of engineering metals

A. You may not like this answer, Melissa, but people who live near the ocean don't need to buy aluminum cars nor aluminum patio furniture :-)

Steel is absolutely fine no matter how close you live to the ocean if it has a quality finish! -- which is the job of the manufacturer.

I live on a salt-water lagoon in Tom's River, not far from you. Our patio/deck/dock furniture can't fit into the house or garage, so its sits out all winter as well as all summer. Our steel patio table and chairs are over 5 years old, have never been maintained in any way at all, and no rust.

On the other hand I bought some steel lounge chairs (from the same retailer) in the spring that were an unsightly rusty mess before fall.

The problem is not steel furniture, it is low quality paint jobs. It may not be easy for a retailer to market only patio furniture with a quality finish, but that is the real answer. Stop by for a margarita come spring, and I'll look up what brand of furniture I bought that your buyers should be arranging for your customers to get!

Encourage your customers to return bad furniture, then dump any manufacturer who doesn't support you. It's not hard to build corrosion-resistant steel furniture, so don't let those manufacturers make you look like an unreliable outlet who is robbing their customers.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. In my knowledge GI Plates (Galvanised iron plates) never rust at any circumstances. You may try to do the furniture by GI steel plates.

"Wish you All the best"

- India

July 25, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Good Morning,
This is a great resource. My question is: living on the Atlantic Ocean, what is the best "finishing" on Lawn Furniture to withstand the peeling and corrosion caused by the salt air? If possible, please recommend "Lawn Furniture" that can be used in these conditions. Thank you.

Dr. Betty Green
- Palm Coast, Florida


Outside on my saltwater lagoon, 365 days a year, still doing fine after 13 years of zero maintenance!
Manufactured in Wadley, Al by Plantation Patterns Div. of Meadowcraft.
"...carbon steel...electrodeposition dip primer system...polyester powder coating..."  

July 25, 2012

A. Hi Doc.

In the above discussion from 2005, I talked about my 5 year old steel patio set. Well, it is now 13 years old, and here is a photo of it (less the cushions), taken last week =>

The corrosion resistance of this set is remarkable by today's standards, and that's because it received proper pretreatment and finishing. It was purchased from Target and was "powder coated". But here's the rub: it's sitting next to a 3-week old Rolston gazebo, also purchased from Target, also powder coated, that is already rusting. The Rolston gazebo is a perfect example of furniture that is worthless due to super-cheap painting (I won't call it 'finishing' since it is an embarrassment to professionals in the finishing field to call it 'finishing' -- and I distance myself and my industry from it).

So here's the problem: the material of construction is unimportant to the corrosion resistance, but you can't trust most retailers to require quality finishing these days. And if it's manufactured and finished 12,000 miles away by people of a different culture who some say even occasionally take pride in shrewdly outmaneuvering you in your attempt to buy quality -- then what can I tell you?   :-)

For now I think the only thing you can do is either buy your lawn furniture from LL Bean with its unconditional guarantee, or budget to have the finish stripped and re-applied by a local shop, or be so lucky as to find the few companies who adhere to Collis Potter Huntington's rule "We Shall Build Good Ships Here; At A Profit If We Can, At A Loss If We Must, But Always Good Ships." Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Protect stainless steel grill near the ocean

July 30, 2012

Q. Sir, I purchased a stainless steel Gas Grill for my outdoor kitchen. Living on the Atlantic ocean, I was told that I should SPRAY the grill with some sort of protective finisher. To protect against rust and corrosion, what do you suggest that I use to spray on the Grill, if anything. Incidentally, I did purchase a custom cover made for the Grill. I so value your advise; thank you for the response.

Dr. Betty Green
- Palm Coast, Florida, USA

August 29, 2012

A. Hi again.

Our supporting advertiser, Everbrite, offers a simple one-part clear coat by the same name. I wouldn't expect it to last forever, but if you applied it at the end of the B-B-Q season each year I think it would make a difference. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Plastic "wicker" patio furniture vs. steel

September 10, 2014

Q. Thank you so much for all these tips. I would just like to ask one more question. I'm interested in investing in some wicker patio furniture, but I can't decide whether to push through with my plans or to get steel furniture instead. I found quite a lot of options at, but want to make sure that I'm making a good choice for all-weather durability. Thoughts?

Hollie Rae McLean
- Vancouver, Canada

September 2014

A. Hi Hollie. Unfortunately, the durability of any of this stuff depends on factors that you can rarely tell from looking at it. Plastic imitation wicker certainly can't rust, but it's only guaranteed for a year. Although people tend to write reviews while their furniture is still new, if you can find a consensus about this furniture in reviews that are a few years old (and on a site not run by the seller), I think that would be your most reliable guide.

Furniture purchases are a matter of taste, not just a matter of durability, but if heavyweight steel furniture suits your taste, I think it's the most durable. In my case with furniture sitting on a windswept deck over a lagoon, the weight of steel furniture was important; neighbors aluminum beach chairs frequently blow into the lagoon.

Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 5, 2017

Q. I purchased a metal gazebo and have not put it together yet. What can I do to help prevent rusting even before it is used? Also, would it be a good idea to wrap all connections with electrical tape to prevent water getting inside the different metal legs & brackets?

Susan Casella
- Boynton Beach, Florida

July 2017

A. Hi Susan. If you can find plastic caps or plugs of the right size, I'd try that rather than electrical tape. Otherwise, carry on :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
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