There are two different types of aluminum in the market: Hollow (or extruded) and Cast (which essentially means solid).
Most hollow aluminum sets go through a process called extrusion. Very simply, this means that a piece of metal is forced through a machine that shapes it into a hollow, round or square frame. The image is seen below:
There are several things to consider when looking for a good quality extruded aluminum.
- Weight: The heavier the chair, the better quality material. This means there is potentially more support and the chair is less likely to blow away. However, a lighter chair is better for senior customers or families with children because the chairs are moved easily.
- Support: Because extruded aluminum is hollow, it is more likely to dent or bend if it is thrown in the wind. Certain manufacturers include supports within the metal to ensure there is extra support to prevent dents and bending.
- Techniques: Powder-coating is a technique used to paint metals where the metal surface is cleaned and smoothed and then painted with a Corona gun. The paint comes out in powder form and is attracted to the metal by an electrostatic charge. It is then baked to become glossy and melt around the metal for a clean finish. Other manufacturers may just use a standard paint either in spray or liquid format and apply it to the metal, which often makes it more susceptible to peeling. The majority of our sets are powder-coated. Major defects occur when the metal is not cleaned properly BEFORE the Corona paint is applied. This causes bubbling, peeling paint and faded or blotchy paint.
- Welding: Some manufacturers will use brass to weld joints instead of aluminum or steel. Majority of welding is done in a combination material of aluminum, zinc and steel.
- Storage: Most extruded aluminum sets are stackable. Mainly because, winter storage is recommended to prevent freeze damage. Offering a stacking alternative, gives customers reassurance that they can properly store and protect their investment.
Cast aluminum sets are often formed a mold. They poor the extremely hot, molten metal into a cast frame and let it set. This ensures that more intricate designs can be applied to your patio furniture. It also provides more stability in the product structure because there are no hollow components.
Similar to extruded aluminum, there are several quality differentiators for cast aluminum to look out for:
- Fillers: Some manufacturers will use fillers within the aluminum that make them less dense and more susceptible to cracks and breakage. Hanamint and Gensun products are the purest that we sell and offer a 10-15-year structural warranty.
- 3D molds: You will recognize that certain cast sets look as if they are only finished on one side. The backs of the chairs will look concave. A 3D mold ensures that the product is finished on all sides and attractive from any view.
- Weld Sanding: Some welds are what we call ‘bubble-gum welds’ which means that the manufacturer has not taken the time to sand down and smooth out the welding point. The countervailing argument is that sometimes if a weld is sanded down too much, the joint becomes weak.
Either way, there are many pros and cons to extruded versus cast. Anyone look for a chair that is light weight and easy to move, should look for extruded. Those who have heavy winds and want a lifetime product, should consider cast aluminum.
There are combination chairs out there as well – these are great to accommodate a tight budget and get the best of both worlds.
Browse through our Aluminum and Cast Aluminum Pieces to find the perfect one for you: