Outdoor Furniture

Patio & garden decor tips and inspiration

While it can be tempting to impulsively buy that outdoor patio furniture set that's just gone on sale, it's better to research and compare your various options before making a purchase. Outdoor furniture can be expensive, and you have a long list of options to consider, including teak, wicker, wrought iron, plastic and various other materials. Each of these has specific advantages and disadvantages you'll have to evaluate.

Considerations to Make

While you'll obviously be limited to what you can afford, two other important considerations to make are the amount of space you have and the intended use of your new patio furniture.

In terms of space, remember that while outdoor patio furniture is usually displayed in complete sets at the store, it isn't necessarily sold that way. If you love the chairs but don't have room for the unwieldy table, you can buy the pieces you want and leave those you don't behind.

In terms of use, ask yourself: do you entertain guests frequently, or will you use your patio furniture more casually and intermittently? If you host regular get-togethers, you may want to build a full-on outdoor living room, which will necessitate more planning and design than simply assembling a collection of outdoor tables and chairs. Also, is your patio covered or open? If it's covered, you'll have more flexibility in your choice of materials; if it's open, you may want to opt for rustproof plastic or invest in a quality set of outdoor furniture covers to protect your investment.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Outdoor Patio Furniture Materials

It pays to know the pros and cons of the most common outdoor furniture materials. Certain materials are better suited to certain climates; a good working knowledge of the attributes of each material will help you critically evaluate the sales pitches you might encounter in the showroom and make an informed choice based on your specific needs.

Wicker outdoor furniture is light, handsome and very comfortable when supplemented with outdoor cushions. It can be treated and painted to create a customized look, but it doesn't withstand the elements very well. Typically, it must be brought inside every night.

On the other hand, wrought iron patio furniture can last decades if properly cared for. It's very attractive, durable and comfortable – but it's expensive. Also, it's prone to chipping, which may require professional repair down the road.

Teak outdoor furniture has exotic appeal and won't rot or warp. It resists mildew, moisture and bugs, and naturally changes color over time. However, it tends to be significantly more expensive than other types of patio furniture.

Plastic also has its appeal — it's cheap, lightweight, comfortable, easy to maintain and perfect for casual entertaining. Just don't expect it to last more than a few summers.

Whatever you choose, take the time to compare warranties as well as prices. You'll want to be protected in the event that your patio furniture doesn't live up to its billing.

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