How to Buy Outdoor Furniture
If you’ve stumbled upon this sentence, chances are you enjoy two things overlapping: being outside and not sitting. Luckily, we have a solution! (It’s patio furniture. Please act surprised.) Now, there are plenty of opportunities to squeeze hosting satisfaction out of a grand set of outdoor seating. You could gather loved ones and fresh barbecue around the opulent glow of a fire pit dining table. Why not clink crisp beers or wine glasses at the quartzite countertop of your very own outdoor bar? Recline in luxurious enough comfort to make the ancient Greeks weep. What have they done for you lately, anyway?
Luckily for you, we’ve consulted elder mountaintop sages in their distant monasteries — filling our heads with incalculable know-how on patio furniture (incidentally, we’ve lost long division). Filled with formidable furnishing knowledge, we thought: why not teach you our patio furniture wisdom? We also involved some patio furniture gurus closer to home: our brilliant outdoor living experts, who’ve helped over a million satisfied customers with us for over 20 years. No llama-back mountain climbs necessary.
What Should I Consider When Choosing Patio Furniture?
Not so fast, bucko! Before we ascend to the peak of patio furniture knowledge, there are four simple questions you should be able to answer before you hit that “Order Confirmation” button. Don’t get us wrong: we love shipping incredible products to you, but can you guess what we love just a little more than that? Low returns. Save yourself (and us!) the trouble and consider these few following questions first.
What is the Main Purpose of My Seating Area?
Whether sitting guests for relaxed, spread-out discussion or a delicious supper around a dining fire pit table, first determine the intended use of the space.
How Many People Do I Intend to Seat?
After all, up to 14 people can fit at a dining set, whereas sectionals can accommodate up to 8 and sofas sit 3–5 guests.
How Much Space Do I Have?
Knowing the dimensions of that space you’re filling with premium furniture will best equip you in outfitting that covered patio or open poolside platform.
What Are My Local Climate Conditions?
That rustproof cast aluminum may thrive in salty coastlines, but the sunbeaten desert could teach certain brands to be generously hot to the touch.
What Kind of Patio Furniture Do I Need?
By now, you should be well aware that patio furniture is a little more complex than a simple hip-height table surrounded by some wrought iron chairs (although, if that’s all you’re really after, we’d be happy to get one on a freight truck headed your way). Patio furniture is essentially split down the middle into two distinct categories: seating and eating! In this next section, we’re rolling up our sleeves and talking shop about patio deep seating sets and patio dining sets.
Outdoor Deep Seating Sets
Ah, the seating of many names. Some call it “chat furniture” or “conversational seating.” Others might call it “lounge furniture.” Lingo aside, outdoor deep seating sets generally go short and squat — nice, lower seats and plusher, thicker cushions, which are perfect for relaxed seating positions. These sets don’t want for variety, as options include: chairs, sofas, loveseats, cocktail or coffee tables, side tables, and firepit tables. No matter the arrangement, simply kick back with a book or a great philosophical debate. Hey, maybe you can solve that lingo crisis for us.
Conversational Deep Seating Sets
- Spreads out to encompass wide seating areas
- Separate pieces provide great customization
- Expanded seating is as easy as buying more
- Note: less intimate in arrangement
Divide and conquer? Not in your backyard. Nothing says, “Behold my kingdom! Thrones for all!” quite like buying a set that makes each seat an individual pillar of comfort. The separated configurations of outdoor conversational seating sets come in many forms: as quaint as two wicker chairs sharing a coffee table, or as grand in scale as plush chairs half-mooning an outdoor coffee table — covering, say, the distance of an outdoor rug (hint, hint).
Conversational Sectional Sets
- Comfortably seat more guests in the same space
- Attached pieces for buy-and-forget seating
- No more wasted space between seats
- Note: more intimate in arrangement
Large guest count and limited seating space? Sectional sets prove that the naysayers are missing out. Outdoor conversational sectional sets are the engineers of the seating world, looking at all that lost space between separate chairs and saying, “Nope, not having any of that.” No man is an island, they believe — and they’ll prove it, turning an armchair archipelago into unparalleled comfort, regardless of physics. Throw them an outdoor coffee table. They deserve one.
Outdoor Kitchen Dining Sets
Grilling barbecue. Enjoying barbecue. Who says walls and doors belong between them? Certainly not outdoor kitchen dining sets, which think food and fun belong in the same area. They mean it, too: patio dining furniture is versatile enough for meals, games, or conversations. Seating up to 15 guests (more typically, 4–6) with sizes for any deck or outdoor spot, a patio dining table usually lands between 28–30 inches with seating stopping at 18–20 inches high. Dining furniture actually makes a great gathering space. Just don’t let the “deep seating” section hear you.
Patio Bar Sets
- Perfect bar-height table seating for any home bar
- Keeps seated and standing guests on eye level
- Great complementary set to other furniture
- Note: taller height dominates spaces
Imagine sauntering over with a crisp beer to check on the big game with your pals. If they’re seated at an outdoor patio bar set, you’ll be on eye level — no more looming over, enforcing mandatory fun through towering presence. Also called “high-top sets” or “bar height bistro sets”, outdoor patio bar sets add a lasting splash of appeal to any outdoor home bar. Battered fries sold separately.
- Perfect for seating 1–2 diners, drinks, and dishes
- Repurposes and enhances small, cozy spaces
- Leaves ample room for the rest of the area
- Note: only loveseats are more intimate
Let’s say altitude isn’t your deal. Perfectly down-to-earth for secluded talks and meals in cozier settings, outdoor patio bistro sets feature smaller tables that are usually designed for 2 people. If you’ve ever fancied European open-air restaurants, or you’ll grab any excuse available to have brunch, you’ll be right at home with patio bistro dining. Just save us a croque monsieur and a bubbly mimosa. We’re parched.
Outdoor Patio Furniture Materials
Now that you know your patio set’s purpose and configuration, it’s time to figure out what it should be made of. One of the best parts of picking out patio furniture is settling on which materials are best for your particular environment. We’ve got a wide lineup up heavy-hitters here, all jockeying to reign supreme in your outdoor space. Which will it be? Cast aluminum? Teak? Read on and find out!
Cast Aluminum Outdoor Furniture
- Naturally rustproof, solid, sturdy, and durable
- Heavier material great for wet, salty climates
- Note: heavier than regular aluminum
Incapable of ever rusting, this material is comprised of aluminum metal forged into solid pieces — which results in thick, lasting patio furniture frames. Cast aluminum laughs at rain and coastlines. Drop it in the sea for a month and power-rinse it off… practically good as new! It’s fairly hard to destroy. Maybe don’t try hitting it with a bus, though.
Aluminum Outdoor Furniture
- Naturally rustproof, solid, sturdy, and durable
- Lighter material great for wet, salty climates
- Note: suffers knockback in windy weather
If cast aluminum hit the track for a year and slimmed down, this would be the end result. Extruded aluminum is for those who like the cut of cast aluminum’s jib, but need seating easier to maneuver — it’s extruded, hollow, and lighter. While just as enduring and rustproof as its stockier sibling, know that a brisk wind can bully it around.
Teak Outdoor Furniture
- Valued for millennia for its endurance and water resistance
- Easily worked, while tough enough to blunt cutting tools
- Note: without upkeep, adopts a silver-gray finish
Love the luxury look? Get teak. It’ll reward you: its natural oils, tight grain, and tensile strength make it useful in exposed locations and resistant to mildew and pests. Under direct sunlight, teak ages into a beautiful silver-gray patina; finish the material witha teak sealer like linseed or tung oil, or varnish it, to enforce its purchase-date tone.
Wicker Outdoor Furniture
- Synthetic woven seating material with a natural look
- Polyethylene or HDPE are the toughest materials
- Note: natural wicker proves rapidly delicate
Synthetic wicker comes in many forms (ignore natural wicker — it crumbles with moisture and turns brittle at any excuse). Lower-end PVC is environmentally toxic with a low lifetime in sunlight. Polyethylene is waterproof with acid resistance, but brittle in sunlight. The gold standard? That’s high-density polyethylene (HDPE): it’s durable, the most natural-looking, and resistant to sunlight, fading, and stains.
Sling Outdoor Furniture
- Designs are generally more foldable and stackable
- Beach style, rather popular for chaise lounges
- Note: warp-resistant, not warp-immune
Technically, sling is most accurately a style. It refers to the fabric hammock design, which is built on a frame of any of these other materials — though aluminum is popular. Note that brands use different fabrics for the actual sling (scroll to “Patio Furniture Fabrics” for more info). Those who don’t like cushions will find sling easier to clean.
Recycled Plastic Outdoor Furniture
- Environmentally-friendly and highly durable material
- Barebones upkeep with a wide assortment of styles
- Note: fire and recycled plastic don’t play well together
Forget everything you think you know about plastic furniture, because this material is heavily adopted in the construction industry for its endurance, malleability, and total absorption of color. It’s extremely solid, offers great colors, and entire sets are designed around it. There’s little upkeep and it’s easy to clean. Best part? If you want eco-friendly, look no further.
Counter Height VS Bar Height Patio Furniture
You’d be surprised at how many dichotomies you can split patio furniture into (well, maybe not by this part of the page). Sectional or seating? High or low? Fire, or no fire? For a quick lightning round of the Y-axis differences, we turn to this quick comparison of counter height patio furniture to bar height patio furniture. Turns out, there are actual inch heights dictating this stuff — and here’s how you know which one to look for.
Counter Height Bar Furniture
Standard counter height is 36 inches, with the seat height falling between 24–28 inches. Counter height tables make it easier to chat with those who prefer standing after all, and are considered more casual. In contrast, a typical table is between 28–30 inches with seating 18–20 inches high. When it comes to clearance, stools should ideally provide about a foot of clearance between the top of the seat and the top of the counter. These seats come in a variety of forms: they can be made with or without armrests, backs, or upholstery.
Bar Height Bar Furniture
Standard bar or pub height tables are 40–42 inches tall, with seat height generally falling at the 30-inch mark. These tables are usually designed to seat 2–5 people, with ample room for drinks and a shared dish. Just as with counter height bar stools, these seats should provide approximately a foot of clearance between the top of the seat and the bottom of the counter. That’s not the only trait they share; bar height bar stools can also be made with or without armrests, backs, or upholstery.
Final Considerations When Buying Patio Furniture
Finally, the end’s in sight — and we hope you come away from this article feeling properly equipped to look through our best patio furniture brands. But we’re not at that mountaintop monastery just yet! For our last few steps, we’ve got a few details left to cover. Make it through these final considerations and you, too, shall be qualified patio furniture sages. We’ll even drop you a membership card through the mail! (Note: our fulfillment people tell us we’re on our own, so… we take back the “membership card” thing. Well, you try stamping 100,000 envelopes!)
Patio Furniture Maintenance
Once you’ve picked your patio furniture, how do you plan on keeping it nice and pristine? That’s honestly too big a scope for a paragraph, but our Patio Furniture Cleaning Guides cover the furniture cleaners, conditioners and sealers, and general upkeep on a material-by-material basis. Another thing to keep in mind that you might want to invest in patio furniture covers, whereas storing your furniture when out of season isn’t a bad idea. Be sure to clean your outdoor cushions and store them in an outdoor cushion box to keep them fresh once the frost has passed.
Fire Accessories & Décor and Sets
If you’re into making an exotic impression, nothing inspires (and enforces) awe quite like adding fire to something. For the fire lovers in your family, our fire pit sets are sure to dazzle, captivate, and downright mystify. You’re already investing in luxurious comfort and relaxation—why not pick a fire pit dining table to literally enlighten every single painstaking dish you concoct within your outdoor kitchen? Don’t forget to accessorize it with fire pit décor for any occasion!
Looking to personalize that patio furniture? Outdoor pillows are one of the easiest ways to observe seasonal changes, highlight a new design trend, and even add a pop of color to your outdoor living spaces. It really can’t be understated how much difference the textural fabrics and stylish elements of a few outdoor pillows can make. Elegant brocades, animal silhouettes, and crisp geometrical prints can mix in your personal style. Exclusively choose pillows made with outdoor-rated fabric, designed with durability to withstand UV rays, fading, mold, mildew — polyester and Sunbrella are excellent choices.
And there you have it! We hope you’ve learned something and have much more of a grasp on your backyard furnishing needs. If you have questions about patio furniture or any other products we offer, feel free to give our wonderful outdoor living experts a call at 1-877-743-2269 for additional information about patio furniture.
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