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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Patio furniture: What will survive in Yucatán

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Veronica Garibayhttp://yucatanmagazine.com
Verónica Garibay Saldaña is a Mexican columnist, communications major, and poetry enthusiast. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

Even with the heat and humidity of Yucatán, backyards are some of the most enjoyable parts of our homes. When thinking about dressing up our patios, we have many options, styles, and materials to choose from. 

But before deciding, we must consider the space where the furniture will go, the weather it will endure, and our budget. 

In Mérida, most backyards are open spaces, meaning furniture is exposed to the elements, such as the sun and the rain. These are some of the most important conditions to consider when choosing a new lounge set. 

With that in mind, here’s a short list of options to choose from, and a little insight on how they fare in our Yucatecan climate.

Wicker furniture

Wicker furniture has become a popular outdoor and indoor option. Despite its name, it is not usually made from “wicker” material, but instead gets its iconic look from a process that involves weaving strips of pliable materials like bamboo, rattan, or resin.

Wicker lounge chair.
Wicker lounge chair. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Furniture of this style is highly coveted thanks to its fresh look and durability, since resin or plastic based furniture is highly resilient against the weather. 

A typical wicker set made up of two chairs, a sofa and a table is usually around $50,000 to $70,000 MXN. Individual pieces, like exterior lounge chairs, tend to be around $10,000 MXN.

Wooden furniture

Wooden furniture is most popular in drier climates, but with proper care, it can also be enjoyed in regions as humid as Yucatán. When choosing which furniture to buy, it is important to choose the right type of wood. If it gets wet and is not properly dried and oiled, it is likely to rot or get infested with bugs, like the dreaded comején.

Children's wooden furniture set.
Children’s wooden furniture set. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Tzalam wood is highly coveted in Yucatán because it is particularly well suited to high levels of humidity. Dense woods such as teak, eucalyptus, or cedar also fare really well. 

With wooden furniture, maintenance will be key. Oil them up periodically, ideally once every couple of months, and keep them dry, as even the highest quality wood will eventually begin to expand if exposed to moisture for long periods of time. 

A regular teak set will usually cost around $60,000 MXN. Tzalam wood sets are usually found close to $80,000 MXN.

Polymer plastic furniture

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance option, synthetics are your best bet. This furniture is designed to last in challenging environments, meaning it can stand up to the abundant sun and rain of Yucatán. 

Polymer plastic set.
Polymer plastic set. Photo: Verónica Garibay

You can leave this furniture out all year round without any ill effects, and cleaning is rather easy with a simple damp cloth.

Marine-grade polymers are also a great choice. They’re heavy, sturdy, and have been designed to look just like painted wood, giving you the look of wooden furniture without the hassle. 

Polymer plastic sets, made up of a six-person table and chairs, will usually set you back around $40,000 MXN. Individual pieces, like outdoor chaise lounges, tend to be around $10,000 MXN.

A trendy option in Mexico is Acapulco chairs, which have a metallic or PVC frame and are weaved with synthetic materials, giving them their iconic look. 

Acapulco chair in baby pink.
Acapulco chair in baby pink. Photo: Verónica Garibay

They come in all kinds of colors, and sizes, and at around $1,000 MXN per chair. They are an affordable and chic option to add to our backyards.

Rattan Furniture

What you might have thought was bamboo all along is actually rattan, a plant fiber that has been in vogue since the mid-20th century for making tropical-inspired furnishings for indoor and outdoor use.

Rattan rocking chair.
Rattan rocking chair. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Although more delicate than previous options, it is also fit for leaving outside, as long as it is in a shaded or covered area. Rocking chairs and stools are very popular options. The material is easy to clean and comfortable to use.

An exterior dining set for eight people is often close to $80,000 MXN. A simple rocking chair can be found at around $2,000 MXN.

Wrought-iron furniture

Wrought iron is a classic, sturdy, and timeless look. But nowadays it has fallen out of fashion because of its weight and tendency to rust. As they are hefty, they will likely leave marks if dragged across the deck, and after a while, paint will usually scratch or chip away. They are also rather harmful for grass because they tend to kill any patch they’re placed on. 

Iron chair, outside a Centro home.
Iron chair, outside a Centro home. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Recently, designers have been turning to the material to make more contemporary designs. As long as you make an effort to shield these pieces from the rain, you can likely enjoy them for a while, even through Mérida’s rainy season.

A modern proposal using wrought-iron.
A modern take on wrought-iron. Photo: Kenny K / K2 Modern

A four-chair and table set usually costs $15,000 MXN. Per piece, wrought iron furniture is often close to $1,000 MXN.

In Yucatán Magazine: Humble plastic is suddenly a high-end option for outdoor furniture

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