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Standing the test of time outdoors

29.06.21

At MARK Product, we are proudly British manufacturers and designers of contract furniture for shaping the workplaces and learning environments of the future.

We provide furniture that puts people and the environment first, choosing materials for their sustainability in manufacture, lifetime of use and end of life. We know that when it comes to outdoor furniture, material choices are integral to their longevity. A longer product lifespan provides a lower carbon footprint.

The materials you’ll find on our products include FSC or PEFC certified Teak or Iroko, Compact Grade Laminates and Smile Plastics as well as our recently launched LDPE (low-density polyethylene) black recycled farm plastic. Here are some thoughts on what to consider when looking at the lifespan and lifecycle of your outdoor furniture.


WHERE IT’S MADE

Production in the UK sustains communities and we know how to design for UK weather conditions – dampness and the sea air are major causes of corrosion and we have an ideal test facility for these in Cornwall!

Timber is a renewable and biodegradable material so we would consider this the most sustainable choice. However, as a natural material you can expect it to grey over time.

Compact grade laminate and other solid surface materials are set to retain the same appearance over a long time period. Recycled plastics such as Smile Plastics are also worthwhile for consideration, diverting an otherwise waste product from landfill.

METAL GRADES AND FINISHES

Much as the material choices we make for tops affect lifespan so too do the base finishes. We choose to finish all our steel furniture by pre-galvanising before powder-coating for durability.  This is the same system that is used on cars. 

It’s worth checking the specification of the steel being used if you want to be sure your products is suited for outdoor use. We manufacture using stainless steel – grade 304 as standard for outdoor use, with an option of 316 for severe marine environments.

Or you could go for a more industrial feel with raw galvanising – it will be quite light and shiny on delivery but will dull down to more of a grey with a distinctive crystalline finish. We’ve seen this most effectively used on our Wave tables.

MAINTENANCE

We particularly see the impact of food and beverages on the appearance of outdoor products and it is generally food waste being left on surfaces that will cause discolouration and mould to appear.

A simple wash of soap and water goes a long way with outdoor products. Regular cleaning in this manner can be the route to a long life for most outdoor products.

This brings us back to consideration of materials. Compact Grade Laminates are hugely advantageous in F&B areas where a consistent surface finish is desirable. Alternatively Wave tables as pictured are made using a naturally oily timber and you can choose to maintain this appearance with regular oiling. Or, allow them to grow old gracefully and naturally grey over time.

If you wish to refresh them annually or sporadically then, as they’re a solid timber, you can at any point clean or lightly sand them and bring them back to a richer colour even if you’re not regularly oiling them.

HOW IT’S MADE

As important as how it’s unmade, disassembly has been a key design principle in all our products since 2008. 

Being able to take a product apart at end of life is essential to it belonging in a circular economy.  This means that spare parts can be provided to keep a product looking its best, and every product can be taken apart into separate materials for reuse or recycling.

Continuation of use of a product will again extend its lifespan and so if your clients want to know how to tighten a screw or a bolt in a few years’ time, it’s worth putting down a few details in your O&M manual.


MARK Product’s ranges are designed for life – built for endurance and contract use. If you’d like to know more about the specifics of any of our outdoor products then do let us know. We supply our furniture with a 10 year guarantee as standard but aim to see them last a lifetime.

View our sustainability and warranty statements here.

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