Outdoor & Patio Furniture Buying Guide | Tips & Advice
Selecting very good quality furniture is important for a couple of reasons. Not only does provide countless hours of both entertaining and relaxation, but the amount of time it is out in the elements can be taxing. Therefore, we recommend purchasing high-quality materials for your outdoor furniture. Low-quality furniture will not hold up well to the elements and will most likely end up costing you more in the long term.
Types of outdoor furniture
Chairs & pillows
Comfort is high on most peoples list when it comes to their chairs. Different types include rocking chairs, benches, Adirondack chairs, lounge chairs, porch swings, patio gliders, wrap-around tree benches and many more. Some come with the option to be adjustable with can be a nice feature. Colors range widely and outdoor pillows can be added to give the chairs a unique look. Select outdoor furniture cushions that are quick drying and treated for UV, mildew and stain resistance. One thing to consider is to make sure you buy extra places to sit to be sure you have seating for entertaining guests when the occasion arrives. If nothing else, it is useful to keep several outdoor folding chairs in storage for times when you need the extra seating.
Dining or patio tables
Outdoor dining tables and picnic tables come in a wide variety of features and options. Determine the size you need based off of the entertaining you plan on doing. Often a table that seats at least 6-8 people is a good choice. It’s a good idea to consider a second table for larger gatherings or to have a food staging area. One option that can come in handy is a table top that has a hold in the center which allows you to place an umbrella for warm days.
Having the option to rest or relax without the expense of an outdoor bed makes hammocks attractive. Their low maintenance and convenience are major benefits as well. There are basically two types available. One involves attaching both ends to a fixed object such as a set of trees. The other option is to have the hammock positioned between two vertical supports such as a metal frame or a carved wooden base. Even when it goes unused, a hammock creates a relaxing feeling when it is just drifting in the wind.
People who prefer to get some relaxation or a nap outdoors will find great enjoyment out of an outdoor bed. It is recommended to have the sheets, mattress and pillows only outside on weekends, good-weather days or when entertaining to avoid bugs and mildew or mold.
Just like indoors, outdoor rugs can help to soften hard surfaces such as patios or decks and can help tie elements together through color and texture. Rug materials vary and may need to be hung to avoid mildew issues when wet. However some are made to drain very well and will not require much maintenance.
Materials to choose from
Keeping the wood in good condition through staining, painting or sealing is vital to ensuring you get the most out of your wood furniture for years to come. Out of all the woods, teak is probably one of the most popular among homeowners. Teak furniture is the most long lasting and also weathers the best. It resists rot, shrinking, warping, and insect attack. Its surface is smooth and will not splinter. Like Teak, cedar and redwood are some of the most durable wood materials due to their high oil content which protects them. Other woods do great as well and can be protected by paints and stains.
Natural wicker furniture is best suited out of the weather and is considered a favorite by many people. Wicker as a category can include materials such as bamboo, cane and rattan. It can be painted or left to age naturally. As an weather-proof alternative, consider synthetic or resin wicker furniture if it may get wet.
Maintaining metal outdoor furniture through sealing and painting is the key to ensuring its longevity. Examples include powder coated aluminum, painted steel, wrought or cast iron.
When choosing furniture or replacing hardware or fasteners, always look for rust and water proof fasteners and finishes, also known as marine grade.
Very lightweight but minimal maintenance is required. When choosing plastic, be sure it is thick enough to tolerate heavy use. Plastic outdoor furniture can include fiberglass, acrylics, polyvinyl, Lucite among other materials. Products can also be made from recycled materials or be composed out of composites with other materials. There are many styles and colors available to choose from.
Glass, Marble and Tile
These can often be found in table tops and in other facets of patio furniture and is considered a durable material even in harsh climates.
Among many other uses, fabric will be used as cushions, tablecloths and flags. Color coordination is important an many people find it helpful to utilize colors of the particular season. For example summer colors may tend to be brighter where as autumn colors tend to be slightly darker hues of the primary colors. It is best to utilize weather-resistant fabrics that offer UV-protection as well as mildew and stain resistance if they will be in the elements from time to time or regularly. Reserve more delicate fabrics for a more enclosed area like a screened porch or a sunroom.
While many types are designed to withstand the elements, we strongly recommend covering many types of outdoor furniture during very inclement weather or bringing them under cover. Also, bringing cushions in during those times to prevent damage from the rain where mildew can become a problem. Having a nearby storage area that is waterproof can be very handy. Also be aware that if fabric or other materials come into contact with the sun regularly, fading may become an issue if they are not treated properly.
For furniture that requires it, keeping it clean, sealed or painted can extend the life by quite a lot. This includes cleaning wood furniture with trisodium phosphate (TSP) at least once a year. Cedar and teak can weather naturally but other woods need a fresh coat of stain, varnish or paint when fading or other signs of wear begin to occur. Metal furniture can be washed with mild soap and warm water. Applying paste wax can help to prevent corrosion. Plastic and resin furniture needs to be rinsed periodically as well to avoid mold and mildew accumulation. Fabric cushions can be machine-washed but hung dry. Secure them on their seats can help avoid shrinking. Wicker can be vacuumed and cleaned with soapy water. Apply a protective paste wax to finish.
By Ryan Shields
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