Summer is just around the corner, and if you're looking to replace your tired-looking  lawn furniture, consider opting for a set that will provide comfort and durability for many seasons to come. When you hit the patio furniture stores, keep the following tips in mind:

Summer is just around the corner, and if you're looking to replace your tired-looking  lawn furniture, consider opting for a set that will provide comfort and durability for many seasons to come. When you hit the patio furniture stores, keep the following tips in mind:


Teak, black cherry and mahogany are durable choices for long-lasting outdoor use, local store owners said.


"Especially around here, where you have so much salt in the air, you really need (a set) that will be durable," said Anna Shaheen, manager of the Bowl and Board in Hingham. "If you're going to spend a good amount of money for something, you want it to last."


To maintain the color of the wood, many pieces do need to be oiled once or twice a season.


"If you oil it every spring before you put it out, it should maintain its luster and look nice for a few years," said Mark Giarrusso, owner of the Bowl and Board, which has five locations that sell mahogany rockers and cherry Adirondack sets and benches. "Young people think you can toss it outside and it will last forever. But it only takes two minutes to put a coat of oil on a chair."


Wicker or rattan is usually made from lightwood. It's easy to move, but it can't be left outside for long periods of time. It's best suited to sunrooms or covered patios.


If you love the look of wicker outside, opt for resin-coated fiberglass-molded wicker, aluminum wicker or the pricey Hularo fiber wicker from Denmark, which is specially color-treated to reduce the appearance of scratches.


Richard Dubois, store manager at The Pool Place in Abington, said many people are pleased with plastic wicker products.


"It's nice-looking," he said. "To look at it, you wouldn't know it was made out of plastic."


If you want metal furniture, go for cast iron or cast aluminum to avoid rust. Wrought iron is cheaper than cast iron but it can rust if scratched, so make sure it has a protective coating on it.


"Aluminum furniture is a little more money than steel is, but it's worth a little extra investment because it will never rust on you," Dubois said.


With metal furniture, look for feet that are raised off the ground with small pads. The pads will keep the feet out of puddles and prevent rust damage.


If the furniture is going on the lawn itself, look for legs with flat wide feet that won't sink into the soil. And if it's going to go on uneven ground, look for screwed-in footpads that can be adjusted for height.


For outdoor cushions, look for a special outdoor acrylic or acrylic-blend fabric with a fibrous -- not foam -- padding. Instead of being water repellent like other fabrics, outdoor acrylics allow water to run through them and are much more breathable. This makes for a quick drying time.


If you're set on buying foam padding and forget to bring cushions in when you have a rainstorm, stand them up and let the water run out, and they will be dry in about an hour, Dubois said.


Dubois recommends considering skipping cushions altogether and choosing a sling material made of vinyl-coated polyester.


"There's no care to it," he said. "You just spray it down."


On all types of lawn furniture, look for hardware made of stainless steel or marine-quality brass. Inexpensive steel fittings can rust and cheap brass can turn black and the brass color can actually run.


But keep in mind: Sometimes less durable is preferable for comfort. When buying a hammock, for instance, Giarrusso recommends the traditional cotton kind, rather than the hardier ones made of plastic-like twine.


"The twine one heats up and it's just not as comfortable," he said. "I have left the cotton hammock out for three or four years, and it has lasted. If you take it out of the rain, you'll get 10 years out of it."


Stores that sell patio equipment say business is bustling this time of year.


"The minute the nice weather comes, people come," Shaheen said. "People like to furnish the outside area as nice as possible because it's almost like an extension of their home."


This report contains Scripps Howard News Service material.


Dina Gerdeman may be reached at dgerdeman@ledger.com.