Living In A Material World: Choosing The Best Materials For Durable Outdoor Cafe Tables

Al fresco dining has a timeless appeal, and in a country with such a consistently warm and sunny climate as Australia's, it makes sense for cafe and restaurant owners to keep some outdoor tables around for the summer months. However, when choosing outdoor tables, the material your tables will be made from is all important, as they will have to endure a lot more in the way of inclement weather, intense sunlight and general wear and tear than your indoor furniture. As such, your outdoor tables should be made from robust, durable materials; here are a few of the best choices, along with their individual pros and cons.


Perfect for traditionally styles cafes, timber outdoor tables are an attractive addition to any eatery, and can be remarkably robust as long as they are carefully chosen. This largely rules out inexpensive softwoods such as pine and plantation-grown redwood, as they are prone to rotting in moist outdoor conditions -- however, strong and durable hardwoods such as teak and native jarrah are much more durable and resistant to mould, and this natural resistance can be augmented using preservative stains and surface treatments. Hardwood tables are also relatively light, making them easy to carry and transport, but still have enough heft to stay put in high winds. 

However, while hardwood tables are very resistant to mould and mildew, they are vulnerable to the predations of termites and other wood-boring insects. These creepy crawlies can be deterred using insecticidal surface treatments, but this can affect the natural colour of the wood and give your tables a dull, grey appearance. Surface treatments, whether they are insecticidal or fungicidal, will also have to be renewed on occasion to maintain their effectiveness. You should also bear in mind that hardwood tables can be stained by spillages and burned by hot plates, so choose a different table material if you're looking for tables that stay looking new for long periods.


Metal outdoor tables can be an excellent choice, as they are durable, long-lasting and aesthetically very versatile. However, the type of metal you choose for your tables can dramatically affect how they perform:

  • Aluminium is a popular and useful choice, combining durability with lightness and virtual immunity to rust and corrosion. However, aluminium outdoor tables can be expensive, and are light enough to be shifted by high winds.
  • Steel is an excellent inexpensive option, and is tremendously durable if stored correctly, but is prone to rusting in moist conditions. Choosing stainless steel neatly averts this problem, but will cost you significantly more.
  • Wrought iron is an excellent choice for cafe owners seeking classically sophisticated looks, and is exceptionally strong and durable. Unfortunately it is very heavy, and without a durable painted or enamelled coating it can fall victim to corrosion very quickly.


Choosing plastic outdoor tables doesn't mean opting for the ungainly lumps of stained white PVC you find in many back gardens, and plastic outdoor cafe tables are available in a dizzying number of colours, shapes and styles. However, better looks doesn't mean sacrificing durability, and plastic outdoor tables can be expected to last for years in the face of inclement weather. They are also immune to corrosion and insect damage, and mould is generally limited to benign surface mildew that can be easily wiped away.

However, the big problem with plastic outdoor tables is that the plastics can perish quickly under intense sunlight. This perishing can make your tables faded and brittle, and you should make an effort to keep your tables out of direct sunlight whenever they are not in use (even with something as simple as a parasol). Plastic furniture is also very light, and while this is a boon for transporting and storing your tables outside of business hours it can make them very vulnerable to damage in windy conditions.

For more information on cafe furniture, contact a local business.