Wrought Iron vs Cast Aluminum Patio Furniture

Wrought Iron vs Cast Aluminum: Which is the Better Patio Furniture Type

Both cast aluminum and wrought iron have been around long enough to make a valid comparison between the two material choices for your outdoor patio. Which is better for your deck, patio, terrace or balcony depends on your preferences for these features:

• Maintenance

• Style

• Color

• Location

Wrought Iron

What is wrought iron?  Wrought iron is an iron alloy with a very low carbon content (less than 0.08%) in contrast to that of cast iron (2.1% to 4%).  Wrought iron is different than cast iron.  Iron alloys are poured into molds to make cast iron goods.

Blacksmiths forge iron by hammering the hot iron and bending it into the shape they need. The term wrought means worked, as in the iron is worked into a specific form. Different pieces of shaped iron are then welded together to form such items as hardware and furniture.

Cast iron, on the other hand, is melted iron and is poured into molds made of sand to create parts such as the legs of a cast iron garden chair.

Cast iron itself is brittle, rigid, and non-malleable compared to wrought iron or steel. It can’t be shaped by bending, stretching, or hammering. Because of its low tensile strength, it will fracture before it bends or reshapes.  However, cast iron is solid and is a durable and strong option for patio furniture.

When bare surfaces are exposed to oxygen in the presence of moisture, both cast and wrought iron are prone to corrosion. Unlike other metals that produce a protective oxidative layer, iron will rust and flake away completely if given enough time. This might be difficult in outdoor areas when precipitation and humidity are present on a regular basis.

Cast iron and wrought iron furniture are not maintenance free. Both cast and wrought iron must be coated to prevent rust. Rust inhibiting paint and powder coating are the preferred protective coatings for iron. You can achieve almost any color you desire with the available powder coating and paint choices available today.

Hand wrought iron furniture can be crafted into any shape desired in the hands of a talented blacksmith. It is prized for the characteristic tool marks which denote a hand crafted piece.

Iron furnishings are heavier than aluminum patio furniture. Its weight makes it an ideal choice for windy locations.

painted vintage wrought iron seating
Wrought iron will last indefinitely with proper care. Keeping the iron surfaces protected with paint and applying a paste wax once a year will keep rust at bay.  This vintage wrought iron set is almost 100 years old.

People prize wrought iron for its longevity and the styles that are offered by patio furniture manufacturers.  Antique wrought iron furniture has become a collectible and is used for indoor and outdoor applications.  It is very popular for traditional home styles as well as Victorian homes across the country because of its distinctive, hand crafted characteristics and period authenticity.

Cast Aluminum

One of the things that cast aluminum and wrought iron have in common is that they are both solid.  Aluminum can also be extruded, which is hollow and very light in weight.

That being said, wrought iron furniture is heavier than cast aluminum furniture and cast aluminum furniture is heavier than extruded aluminum patio furniture.  Weight is an advantage in windy locations such as seaside or mountain tops where the full force of wind is experienced or during storms. Heavy furniture can be a disadvantage, however, if it is moved frequently such as in the case of dining chairs.

Aluminum is not subject to the same rust risks as iron. Cast aluminum patio furniture is painted or powder coated to not only provide an attractive finish, but also protect the aluminum from the elements.

cast aluminum dining set
Cast aluminum is strong and available in a wide range of styles. You can tell a cast aluminum item because of the seams where the two sides of the molded piece are joined. Cast aluminum requires little care other than gentle cleaning.

Because it relies on sand casting to produce its shapes and decorations, cast aluminum furniture is available in many different style profiles and levels of decoration. Need country French? Tuscan? Urban chic?  No problem.  There are styles for every type of outdoor decor.

If you are looking for a blend of strength, weight, durability and design flexibility, then cast aluminum is a good choice for outdoor furniture.  If you need a heavier weight type of outdoor furniture, then wrought iron  outdoor patio furniture will be your better choice in metal furniture.