Supplement Feature - April 2009
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Site Solutions

Designing & Outfitting Your Park

By Sue Marquette Poremba

The Right Fit

Finding the best material for your park furnishings means considering more than just the budget. When it's time to add benches, picnic tables, trash receptacles and other essential site amenities, you need to take a look at the context and be sure what you purchase fits well with what's already there. Take things like the prevailing weather conditions and the probability of vandalism into account.

Here are some of the pros and cons associated with specific materials:

PROS: strong; lightweight; affordable
CONS: fewer aesthetic options; can corrode if not coated or anodized; subject to vandalism in some locations as a scrap metal

PROS: durable; heavy; available in a variety of colors and textures
CONS: can crack; can be difficult to clean unless coated

PROS: naturally beautiful; conducts heat well, comfortable; lower cost (softwoods); durability (hardwoods); rust- and stain-resistant
CONS: requires regular painting, staining and/or sealing; can splinter; easily damaged; difficult to clean unless coated

PROS: lightweight and portable; conducts heat well; comfortable; self-cleaning in the elements; durable with lifespan of around 15 years
CONS: may fade without UV protection

PROS: environmentally friendly; moisture-proof; does not corrode, rot or rust; does not splinter; virtually maintenance-free; durable; vandalism-resistant; heavy
CONS: more expensive initially; may fade without UV protection; may sag in high heat without steel reinforcement

PROS: lightweight; moveable
CONS: easier to damage than some other materials

PROS: conducts heat well; comfortable; corrosion-resistant; durable; virtually maintenance-free; heavy
CONS: can be scratched; may fade without UV protection

PROS: durable; beautiful; heavy
CONS: must be treated to prevent rusting