Whether you’re hosting a cookout, sunbathing or just relaxing with your family, patio furniture turns your deck, porch, patio or backyard into a soothing sanctuary and a pleasant gathering place. Dining sets, lounge chairs, gliders, benches, hammocks and shelving units for outdoor use are available in styles and sizes to fit any decor and any outdoor living space, as well as budgets from small to large. Not sure how to get starte? Pronto’s Patio Furniture Buying Guide will make buying patio furniture a picnic.
Start out by deciding which pieces of furniture are necessary and which are optional. Measure your patio before buying and aim to leave one foot of space around each piece of furniture and two feet of space for traffic areas.
Wrought iron makes the heaviest and most durable patio furniture. Cast iron is also durable, but not as elegant. Iron patio furniture needs regular cleaning and should be stored indoors during snowy or rainy months. Aluminum patio furniture is lightweight and requires no maintenance.
Choose teak for the longest-lasting furniture—its high level of natural oils and requires little maintenance. Oak and cedar patio furniture requires regular treatment with wood sealant to last. Wood patio furniture should be stored indoors to protect it from snow, extended periods of rain and cold.
Wicker is the most delicate patio furniture material and needs regular cleaning to protect it from sun and water damage. Choose synthetic wicker if you like the look but want something more durable. Plastic patio furniture is maintenance-free and easy to store, but you should check the weight limit of tables and chairs.
Think about whether you’ll need to store your patio furniture, how much space you have for storage and if you’ll need to take the furniture apart each year. If you’re making a significant investment, look for patio furniture that comes with a manufacturer’s warranty of 10 years or more.
Patio furniture made from iron that is heated and poured into a mold. Although cast iron offers the same weight and durability as wrought iron patio furniture, it lacks some of wrought iron’s craftsmanship and elegance.
Patio furniture made from polyethylene plastic. This ranges from simple molded pieces that are stackable to high-density plastics that mimic the look of wood.
A tropical hardwood with an exceptionally high concentration of natural oils that gives it superior resistance to warping and water damage. Teak is used in the construction of furniture, dinnerware and ships and is prized for its beauty and durability.
Technically a style of weaving, this term also refers to patio furniture that uses woven material ranging from rattan to synthetics.
Patio furniture made from flat bars of iron that are heated and hammered.
You can make the most of your outdoor living space with sturdy, comfortable and attractive patio furniture. Your options in patio furniture vary widely in styles and materials, but your budget is the place to start. Stackable resin chairs can be found for under $10 each, while intricate wrought-iron dining sets can cost thousands of dollars.
The first thing to consider is what kind of patio furniture you need. How much space do you have? How many people will be using it, and how will they use it? A café height table with two stools is enough if you are furnishing a small balcony. If you have a larger deck, patio or porch, a full-sized dining table with four to six chairs gives family and friends a place to eat or gather.
Patio furniture options include lounge chairs, side tables, gliders and benches to provide seating, storage and versatility. You can have a full-sized outdoor bar with its own canopy or a sofa, loveseat and armchairs that rival any indoor living-room set.
Start by determining what pieces of patio furniture you absolutely must have and then, what you’d like to have. Measure and map out the area you are furnishing. Then, using the general dimensions of the pieces of patio furniture you’re considering, try out some different arrangements on paper. A good rule of thumb is to leave one foot of space between pieces to avoid a crowded look; two feet of space between pieces where traffic will flow.
Patio furniture is commonly made of one of four materials: metal, wicker, wood or plastic. Each type of patio furniture has advantages and drawbacks, but when you consider your environment, price range and personal style, it will become clear which materials are best for you.
Wrought iron is the most expensive type of patio furniture and its ornate design imparts the feeling of a European bistro to your backyard. Wrought iron patio furniture is extremely heavy and durable, and it requires only a bit of care to keep it looking its best. Manufacturers recommend that you wash wrought iron patio furniture occasionally and coat it with liquid car wax twice a year. If the paint gets scratched, you can prevent rust by scrubbing off the loose paint with a wire brush and repainting it. Wrought iron patio furniture needs to be covered or stored indoors during snowy or rainy winters. Cast iron patio furniture costs less and isn’t quite as pretty as wrought iron, but it is equally heavy and durable. Aluminum patio furniture is lightweight and does not rust, but it’s also a little less durable.
Wood patio furniture can be made of teak, oak, or cedar. Teak is the priciest of wood patio furniture, and with good reason. The high natural oil content of teak makes it incredibly long-lasting. Teak is used in shipbuilding, and there are some teak benches in public parks that are more than 100 years old and still in fine condition. Teak patio furniture resists rot, warping, shrinking and swelling and is beautiful in its natural color. Oak and cedar patio furniture is a bit less expensive, but you’ll need to clean it and treat it with wood sealant on a regular basis to keep it in good condition. Patio furniture made from wood should be stored indoors or covered during extended periods of rain, snow and cold.
Wicker, or woven, patio furniture can be made of natural materials like rattan or of synthetic resin fibers. Natural rattan is beautiful, but susceptible to weather damage: the sun’s heat and damp nights shorten its lifespan. Woven resin patio furniture convincingly mimics the look of rattan and stands up to the elements.
Plastic patio furniture is generally the least expensive option, and it appeals to many people because it’s available in many sizes and styles, doesn’t need assembly and only requires an occasional hosing down for maintenance. Most plastic patio furniture is lightweight and stacks for storage. Pay attention to weight capacity when comparing plastic tables and chairs, so you don’t overload them.
Where you live—that is, your geographic location as well as your home itself—will play a part in the kind of patio furniture you buy. If you live in a warmer climate where patio furniture will be used all year round, you may be concerned about wind. This is where heavy patio furniture made from wrought iron, cast iron or teak is often preferred. Consider vinyl covers for your patio furniture that stay in place with ties when heavy rain is in the forecast.
If you live in a colder part of the country with a true winter, you will most likely need to bring your patio furniture inside for the season, both for safety and to keep your furniture in good condition. Consider how much storage space you have for your patio furniture and whether it needs to be taken apart and reassembled for storage.
Patio furniture can be an investment. If you’re buying for the long term, look for a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty at a minimum and be sure that replacement parts and hardware will be readily available in the future. If you are building your patio furniture set a few pieces at a time, find out if the manufacturer plans to continue the particular line you like.