There are lots of different brands of HDPE furniture available in the market. Not all are created equal.
Let’s start with the material itself. HDPE stands for high density poly ethylene. As several manufacturers advertise most of the material is made from recycled milk jugs and containers. This makes most all brands very green product. The process to produce HDPE lumber is pretty straightforward. The recyclers collect the materials chop them up melt them and form them into pellets. These pellets are combined with colorants and UV stabilizers, and then formed into of the materials from which the furniture is made.
HDPE is the almost perfect material for outdoor furniture. It does not absorb moisture. It does not splinter, check, or crack. It is much cooler in the sun than metal furniture. It requires very little maintenance. It does not easily stain and can be cleaned with a water hose. The side of heaven, nothings perfect and neither is HDPE. It’s one drawback is that it does not have a lot of structural rigidity. That one drawback is easily overcome in the design process by using large enough structural members, proper connectors and bracing. Well-designed HDPE furniture will last for generations.
There are three basic ways the HDPE material is formed into the materials from which the furniture is made. One company pours the melted material into molds in the various shapes of the furniture parts such as legs, arms or seats. This is not inherently bad but it results in furniture that just doesn’t have the same look and feel as furniture made from lumber. Some people think it just looks fake.
Other companies purchased material that has been formed into sheets. The sheets maybe an inch thick or more and come in panels much like plywood. Some manufacturers like this sheet material because they can load it into the automatic machinery used cut out the parts for the furniture, often referred to as CNC. This furniture typically lacks the grain and look of real wood. Manufacturers using sheet goods often resort to using thinner parts for their furniture for the sake of production speed. The resulting product is less stable.
The best way to use HDPE, is to have it formed into boards just like real lumber. The boards will have graining and dimensions just like real wood. Manufacturers using this method typically have a higher quality product, that looks natural, and is more stable.
The last thing that’s important to know about HDPE is the material itself is typically sold by weight. That means the manufacturer with the chair that weighs 50% less, has about 50% less invested in materials. Other factors including the amount of pigment and UV stabilizers included also affect cost of the raw material.
Carolina Casual uses only the highest grade HDPE lumber from the leader in the business.
One last note, make sure the manufacturer you choose uses true domestic 316 stainless hardware, then you can be sure it is strong and will not corrode.