Furniture is an essential addition to any outdoor space and aluminum is a common building material used in outside furniture due to its price, ease of maintenance and lifespan. However, as anyone who has sat on a metal chair or aluminum furniture in the sun will know, they can get pretty hot!
Compared to other metals, aluminum does not get as hot when left in the sun. As a material, aluminum furniture should have a low conductivity to heat, meaning heat should not be retained to efficiently. However, to reduce heat retention further simple fabric or cushions can be used to shade and cover your furniture.
Aluminium and metal in general can get hot when left in the sun. We take a look at the reasons why and some ways to prevent heat retention in aluminum in the article below.
Aluminum is a common metal used in outdoor construction because of its properties. Compared to other metals, furniture made of aluminum tends to be more durable, lasts longer, and does not give into decay or corrosion.
Does Aluminum Furniture Get Hot In The Sun?
It is unavoidable that metals will heat up when exposed to the sun on a hot day. An aluminum chair left exposed to sunlight over time will build up heat unless there is something to cool it down be that breeze, misters, shade or fabric.
Temperatures and thermal comfort are a big part of the construction, which is why we spend so much on heating/cooling systems throughout the year ( more here on heating and cooling systems if you are interested.) Manufacturers understand this and design accordingly to address this and to make sure their furniture is as comfortable as possible no matter the climate.
Firstly, the aluminum used for furniture is processed differently than kitchenware. Unlike cooking, where we need something that can retain heat, the aluminum for furniture is often designed to expel heat.
Secondly, outdoor finishes for furniture are designed to be used in the outdoors and to both be protected from the elements, and to protect the user. . Most outdoor paints are made to avoid absorbing heat by reflecting it instead while at the same time protecting the aluminum itself from corrosion and wear and tear.
These factors play a significant role in reducing the amount of heat that’s absorbed by outdoor furniture. However, removing the conductive property of aluminum is impossible, so we also have to address reducing our furniture’s heat exposure.
To avoid our furniture from heating up, we’ll need to focus on reducing heat around it or finding ways to cool down metals in our outdoor areas passively.
- Avoiding direct sunlight
The sun is typically at its hottest temperatures from 11 am – 4 pm. Throughout the year, the sun will always travel from east-west between varying angles in the sky.
During 11 am – 4 pm, the sun will typically be at its highest point while transitioning to setting in the west. With that in mind, you should position your chairs to avoid this direct sunlight. You could put them under shade or cover them with fabric to help reflect some of that midday sun and heat.
- Nearby environment
Surfaces radiate heat based on their absorption or reflectivity.
Firstly, it helps to have the immediate area where you place your furniture shaded. This helps prevent nearby materials from absorbing or reflecting heat into the space.
Secondly, you can also increase the amount of greenery around the area. Planting greenery provides many benefits, such as helping cool down an area and making your outdoor spaces look much more beautiful and complete.
If you have cooling systems like misters these will help to evaporate heat from the area as well.
Color plays a role in a material’s attribute of absorbing or reflecting heat. Darker colors tend to absorb heat while lighter colors reflect it away. Thus, it could be helpful to go with lighter-colored furniture pieces, or lighter color fabric to cover your chairs and tables.
- Furniture Design
Consider the placement and use of aluminum in a furniture piece you buy. Some designs may only use aluminium as a trim or for decoration, while others may use the material entirely on surfaces and legs.
When buying furniture, it’s essential to foresee how it will fit where you want to place it. For example, an aluminum chair will feel hot when used, but one designed with cotton cushioning will feel colder to the touch and retain less heat.
Aside from just preventing our furniture from heating up, we should also focus on caring for them so they’ll last. Surprisingly, heat plays a small role in the deterioration of aluminum as it’s more susceptible to damage from water.
Here are a few tips to keep your aluminum furniture in tiptop condition:
- Water Control
The great thing about aluminum as a metal is it’s low-level of iron which makes it less susceptible to rusting. Oxidation(rust) forms when iron and water interact. Regardless of rust, it’s still important to keep our furniture dry for it to last; thus, minimizing our furniture’s exposure to water is crucial and drying it off after exposure will help prolong its life.
Keeping your metal furniture underneath a covered area will allow it to last longer than being exposed directly outdoors. It may break the immersion of being outside, but if you want to make the most of and prolong the life of your furniture, this is one of the best ways to do it.
Another option is to opt for outdoor furniture covers we have an article on the link here. especially if you only use your outdoor furniture occasionally. Having a cover, instead of just leaving your furniture bare, reduces the amount of maintenance you would need to do in the future.
If you live in an area that experiences a lot of rain, treating your metal furniture with a rust inhibitor might be a good idea.
Rust-proofing often lasts for several years and is relatively inexpensive, costing only about $13 for a bottle that can easily treat all of your furniture.
Proper cleaning and keeping our furniture in tiptop condition will increase its longevity. Practices such as regular cleaning and doing some touch-ups (such as repainting or resealing) helps protect the metal and prevent it from being further exposed to the elements.
You can use a simple mixture of any mild soap with water to clean aluminum furniture. Simply spray on the mixture and wipe it off clean with a soft material. Avoid using rough cleaning agents as these may cause the finish to peel off.
Remember to take care of any cushions, trims, etc., that you may have on your furniture—aluminum furniture has an intended lifespan of 15 years which can be further increased with good care.
Aluminum furniture will heat up when left exposed to direct sunlight but cool down faster than other metals which is why it is a popular addition to many outdoor spaces.
Designing around the environmental conditions of your outdoor spaces is essential, especially regarding how your furniture interacts.