The Pros and Cons of Polywood Furniture: A Comprehensive Guide

Last Updated on September 16, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

Furniture is a key element in setting the ambiance and functionality of any space. Today, we have a myriad of options to choose from when it comes to furniture materials, ranging from traditional wood to metal, glass and even recycled materials.

One such innovative material that has gained popularity in recent years is Polywood. This article aims to provide an in-depth look into Polywood furniture, discussing its advantages and disadvantages to help you make an informed decision for your furniture needs.

Polywood is a brand name for a type of furniture made from recycled plastics. The name ‘Polywood’ is derived from the words ‘polymer’ (a type of plastic) and ‘wood’.

It was designed to mimic the look and feel of natural wood but with the durability and weather resistance of high-density plastics.

Before delving into the pros and cons of this versatile material, let’s first understand what Polywood furniture is and why it’s become a popular choice among homeowners and commercial establishments alike.

Understanding Polywood Furniture

plywood furniture

Polywood furniture is a unique type of outdoor furniture that’s made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a type of plastic that is commonly used in the production of milk jugs and detergent bottles. This material is then recycled and transformed into sturdy, weather-resistant furniture that can withstand the elements for years to come.

The process of making Polywood furniture involves several steps:

  1. Collection and Sorting: The first step involves collecting post-consumer plastic waste such as milk jugs and detergent bottles. These are then sorted based on their color and type.
  2. Cleaning and Processing: The collected plastic is thoroughly cleaned to remove any dirt or residues. It’s then processed into flakes or pellets.
  3. Melting and Molding: The clean plastic flakes or pellets are melted and then molded into the desired shape. The molten plastic is injected into molds that are designed to create various furniture parts like slats, boards, and posts.
  4. Cooling and Finishing: After molding, the pieces are cooled and then sent for finishing which might involve sanding, cutting, or drilling. Finally, the parts are assembled to create the final piece of furniture.

One of the unique features of Polywood furniture is its durability. Unlike traditional wood furniture, Polywood doesn’t splinter, crack, peel, or rot. It’s resistant to corrosive substances such as oil, salt spray, and other environmental stresses.

Another key feature is its eco-friendliness. By using recycled plastics, Polywood helps to reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our landfills and oceans.

Lastly, Polywood furniture is easy to maintain. It’s stain-resistant and can be cleaned with soap and water. Unlike wood furniture, it doesn’t require any painting, staining, or waterproofing. Plus, it’s available in a wide array of colors and styles, allowing you to find the perfect pieces to suit your outdoor space.

The Advantages of Polywood Furniture

A. Durability

One of the most significant advantages of Polywood furniture is its exceptional durability. Unlike traditional wood, which can warp, crack, or rot under various weather conditions, Polywood is designed to withstand the elements.

Polywood furniture is resistant to both hot and cold weather extremes. Whether it’s exposed to the scorching sun, heavy rain, snow, or even saltwater spray, Polywood maintains its structural integrity and aesthetic appeal. It does not fade or discolor easily under prolonged sun exposure, thanks to UV-inhibiting pigments used in its manufacture.

Another factor contributing to Polywood’s durability is its resistance to pests and decay. Traditional wooden furniture often falls prey to termites and other wood-boring insects, but Polywood, being made from HDPE plastic, is immune to such issues.

When it comes to longevity, Polywood certainly has an edge over many other types of outdoor furniture. While metal furniture might rust and wicker furniture can unravel, Polywood furniture stands strong. With proper care, Polywood furniture can last for several decades, making it a cost-effective choice in the long run despite its higher initial cost compared to some other types of outdoor furniture.

B. Eco-Friendly

The production of Polywood furniture is not only innovative but also highly sustainable. One of the key advantages of Polywood is that it’s made from recycled materials, specifically high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic. This type of plastic is commonly used for products like milk jugs and laundry detergent containers.

By repurposing these plastics, Polywood effectively removes them from the waste stream, reducing the amount of waste that ends up in our landfills and oceans.

It’s estimated that each piece of Polywood furniture is made from hundreds of recycled plastic bottles and jugs. This means that every time you purchase a piece of Polywood furniture, you’re contributing to the reduction of plastic pollution.

Another important aspect of Polywood’s sustainability commitment is its production process. Any scraps or waste from the production floor are sent back to their on-site recycling plant to be reground and reused. This closed-loop manufacturing process ensures that no material goes to waste, further minimizing the environmental impact.

Moreover, Polywood’s material is not only made from recycled plastics but is also infinitely recyclable itself. This means that when a piece of Polywood furniture has reached the end of its life, it can be recycled into new Polywood lumber, creating a continuous cycle of reuse.

C. Low Maintenance

One of the most appealing aspects of Polywood furniture is its low maintenance requirement. Unlike other types of outdoor furniture, Polywood does not need to be painted, stained, or waterproofed.

This is due to the fact that the color in Polywood lumber permeates all the way through, meaning it won’t fade or peel over time.

Polywood furniture is also resistant to common issues that plague other types of outdoor furniture. For example, it’s immune to rot and insect damage, and it doesn’t splinter or crack. This means you won’t have to spend time or money on repairs or replacements.

When it comes to cleaning, Polywood furniture is straightforward and hassle-free. Most dirt and stains can be easily wiped away with a cloth and warm soapy water.

For tougher stains, a little bit of vinegar or a non-abrasive cleaner can be used. Unlike wood or metal furniture, there’s no need for any special cleaners or tools.

In terms of upkeep, Polywood furniture can stay outdoors all year round, regardless of the weather conditions. It doesn’t need to be stored away during the winter months, saving you storage space and the hassle of moving heavy furniture.

D. Variety of Styles and Colors

Polywood furniture is renowned for its extensive range of designs and colors, offering customers the flexibility to choose pieces that best suit their personal style and outdoor decor.

Available in an array of designs, Polywood offers everything from traditional to modern styles. For instance, their Adirondack chairs come in various designs, including the Modern, Nautical Curveback, South Beach, Palm Coast, Long Island, among many others.

Each design has a unique aesthetic appeal, allowing customers to choose based on their comfort and stylistic preferences.

In terms of color options, Polywood provides a fantastic spectrum of hues. From traditional browns, classic whites, and greys to ocean-inspired blues and bold reds, there is an abundance of colors at your disposal.

They also offer outdoor furniture in neutral tones like white, brown, gray, or black, which pair well with various outdoor settings. Additionally, dark green is a designer favorite for creating a harmonious look with nature.

Polywood’s variety doesn’t stop at individual pieces. They also offer furniture collections, such as the EDGE collection, which comes in multiple colors. These collections are designed to suit various lifestyles and allow for consistent styling across different furniture types.

The Disadvantages of Polywood Furniture

A. Price

One commonly noted disadvantage of Polywood furniture is its price point. Many sources indicate that Polywood furniture tends to be more expensive than other types of outdoor furniture.

This higher cost is attributed to the durable high-density polyethylene (HDPE) material used in its construction, which offers superior strength and longevity.

An individual chair constructed from Polywood can cost upwards of $200, while a set of two chairs with a small side table may exceed $500. Larger sets or more complex designs can reach into the thousands.

This investment, however, is often justified by the furniture’s durability, weather resistance, low maintenance requirements, and eco-friendly nature.

It’s important to note that while the initial investment may be higher, the long-term value of Polywood furniture could end up saving money over time when compared to replacing less durable alternatives.

That said, for those working with a tight budget, the upfront cost of Polywood furniture might be a deterrent. In such cases, it’s worth considering the long-term benefits and potential savings in maintenance and replacement costs before making a decision.

B. Weight

Polywood furniture is known for its durability and sturdiness, which comes from the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) material used in its construction.

However, this also means that Polywood furniture can be quite heavy. This weight can make it more difficult to move or reposition compared to lighter materials like aluminum or plastic.

For instance, a standard Polywood Adirondack chair can weigh around 40 pounds, while a dining table can weigh over 100 pounds.

This can pose challenges if you frequently rearrange your outdoor setup or like to move furniture to different locations for events or gatherings. It may require two people to safely move larger pieces to prevent injury or damage to the furniture.

However, on the flip side, the heavy weight of Polywood furniture also has its advantages. It adds to the stability of the furniture, making it resistant to being knocked over by strong winds or during lively outdoor activities.

This makes Polywood an excellent choice for outdoor settings where weather conditions might otherwise cause lighter furniture to shift or topple.

C. Lack of Natural Feel

While Polywood furniture is designed to mimic the look of traditional wood, it does not quite capture the same feel as natural wood. This is a point that can be perceived as a disadvantage for some consumers.

Polywood is made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a type of plastic. Despite being crafted to resemble wood grain, it lacks the tactile warmth and texture of natural wood. It also doesn’t have the unique natural variations in grain and color that you find in wooden furniture.

For those who appreciate the natural characteristics of wood, such as its organic feel under touch, its smell, or even the minor imperfections that give it character, Polywood may not provide the same sensory experience.

However, it’s worth noting that the lack of a natural feel is a trade-off for other benefits. Polywood furniture is extremely durable, weather-resistant, and low-maintenance compared to natural wood. While it may not have the same tactile experience, it offers practical advantages that can make it a worthwhile choice for many homeowners, particularly for outdoor settings where durability and ease of care are key considerations.


Polywood furniture, while boasting numerous advantages such as durability, weather resistance, and low maintenance, also presents a few disadvantages that potential buyers should consider.

The higher price point of Polywood furniture, compared to other outdoor furniture options, can be a deterrent for those on a tight budget. However, the long-term value, given its resistance to wear and tear and low maintenance requirements, may justify this initial investment.

Additionally, the weight of Polywood furniture can make it more challenging to reposition or move around. This is a consideration for those who frequently rearrange their outdoor setups. Yet, this weight contributes to the furniture’s stability and resistance to wind.

Lastly, while Polywood mimics the look of wood, it does not replicate the natural feel of it. For some, this lack of organic warmth and texture may be a downside. But again, this trade-off comes with practical benefits such as weather resistance and ease of maintenance.

In conclusion, the decision to invest in Polywood furniture should be made after carefully weighing these pros and cons. It’s a viable option for those who prioritize durability, low maintenance, and environmental sustainability over factors like cost, weight, and a natural wood feel. As with any significant purchase, it’s important to assess your specific needs, preferences, and circumstances before making a final decision.