Outdoor furniture can be equal parts practical and beautiful. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun while lounging by the pool or host the best backyard bash, there’s furniture out there that will suit your needs. But what’s the best outdoor furniture material, and what should you be looking for?
When choosing outdoor furniture, consider your space, your aesthetic, your location, and your needs. Teak, powder-coated steel, and cushions with UV-resistant fabrics are the best materials for outdoor use. Picking a material is usually a trade-off between cost and durability.
There are a few things you should know before you can begin comparing swatches, cushions, and designs. Different materials have different advantages, disadvantages, and best-use cases. So, what exactly do you need to know about outdoor furniture? Read on to find out!
Think About What You Want
Choosing the best type of outdoor furniture is going to come down to your personal preferences and needs. You’ll have to consider the space you have available, your location, design, and more. Luckily, we’ve made this process easy for you.
Consider The Whole Picture
Outdoor furniture is an extension of your home, style, and personality. Before you begin selecting color pallets and comparing brands, consider the bigger picture.
Different pieces of furniture serve different purposes. You can use your furniture to lounge about, entertain guests, or as an additional living room. Consider how you plan to use your outdoor space. Are you determined to host the best backyard barbecue, or do you want to laze around the pool?
Regardless of how you plan to use your furniture, it’s important to start with a greater vision in mind. As a quick example, you might want to start thinking about if you just want a 4-piece set like this Wisteria Lane one (on Amazon), of if your space and your needs are pushing you toward something larger like this Kullavik 8-Piece Outdoor Patio Set (also on Amazon).
Knowing which general direction your going is great to give you a loose goal while you’re considering all your options!
How Much Space Do You Have?
Whether you’re sitting comfortably on a multi-acred property or struggling to find space in a cramped condo, you’ll have to consider the amount of space you have available.
If you’re starved for space, focus on what’s most important. Are you trying to entertain multiple guests, or do you prefer more intimate get-togethers? Or maybe you’re more concerned about getting a tan this Summer. Whatever it is, be sure to purchase furniture that fits and works within your limitations.
Consider Your Furniture’s Lifespan
Unfortunately, not all outdoor furniture sets are created equal. Most pieces are durable enough to withstand harsh conditions, but some do it better than others.
Woods suited for outdoor use like Teak, Oak, and Cedar weather over time. This weathered effect can be visually appealing to some, while others prefer different materials.
High-quality metals and plastics can maintain their look and sheen longer than their wooden counterparts. However, even powder-coated steel and the most robust plastics can suffer from sun damage, corrosion, or staining.
What’s Your Aesthetic?
The most enjoyable part of choosing furniture is determining your overall aesthetic. Remember, outdoor furniture is an extension of your interior decorations, style, and personality. Keeping this in mind can help you create a cohesive look both inside and out.
Consider your color palette, different textures, and various designs. Do you prefer more open spaces, allowing for more movement? Or maybe you want a simple table set for you and your partner? We’re sure you’ll find the perfect piece of furniture, regardless of what you’re looking for.
How Practical Are You Trying to Be?
Outdoor furniture is incredibly beautiful and transforms landscapes. However, you don’t have to sacrifice practicality for beauty.
Outdoor furniture pieces can come with a variety of features like storage, cushions, and cup holders. Some of these features may stand out to you depending on your needs and preferences. If you’re seeking to entertain guests, you may need more counter space and storage than someone looking to relax under the sun.
You should also consider cushions. Outdoor cushions require more maintenance, care, and consideration. If you aren’t looking to add more chores to your to-do list, it may be best to avoid cushions.
Best Outdoor Furniture Materials
As mentioned earlier, not all furniture materials are created equal. Some woods, metals, and even plastics are better suited for certain conditions. Here are a few of the outdoor furniture materials you should consider.
The Best Woods to Consider
Wood brings a natural element to your outdoor furniture sets. Woods best suited for the outdoors are robust, durable, weather-resistant, and long-lasting. However, not all wooden furniture is created equally. Some of the best all-around outdoor woods include teak, oak, and cypress.
Out of all the hardwood varieties, Teak is the most durable and robust. Teak has natural oil content, which repels water, warping, and other damages.
On top of that, Teak is an all-weather wood, making it an excellent option for winter furniture. However, Teak wood and furniture sets are notoriously expensive, as they’re of higher quality than the alternatives.
Although oak requires the occasional protective treatment or covering, it remains one of the most sought-after varieties for craftsmen and consumers alike. This wood is abundant, making it a more affordable option.
Oak is equally strong and beautiful and can withstand outdoor conditions. The classic golden-brown hue is timeless and fits many styles.
Cypress is another softwood that fits the bill for outdoor use. This wood’s natural oils are a great defense against rot and insects. Cypress can be a beautiful addition to any outdoor landscape, as its light color brings contrast.
Cypress stains very well and, when left unfinished, weathers to a silver-gray color.
Acacia is an excellent option for outdoor use. Acacia is a fast-growing hardwood with high oil content. Because Acacia grows so fast, it’s incredibly affordable and has a low impact on the environment.
The high amounts of oil contribute to this wood’s durability against weather, insects, and other damages. When sealed, Acacia has a rich, dark, golden-brown hue.
Iroko wood is slow grown on the Ivory Coast. It has similar properties to Teak wood, making it durable, long-lasting, and weather resistant. The natural oils found in Iroko help protect it from pests and other damages. This wood variety doesn’t require as much maintenance as other options, making it good for beginners.
What About Non-Wooden Furniture?
Non-wooden furniture sets can be just as great as their wooden counterparts. Materials like aluminum, wicker, and even plastic can be considered when choosing outdoor furniture.
Aluminum is another viable option for outdoor conditions. Aluminum is nearly rust-proof, making it an amazing choice for wetter climates. However, aluminum furniture is lightweight and typically has holes throughout the frame.
This weight reduction can make your furniture susceptible to being blown around during tough storms.
Both natural and synthetic wicker furniture can be a decent option for outdoor scenarios. Natural wicker furniture will need a bit more TLC, as it can chip over time.
Synthetic wicker furniture, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be washed as much and is quite durable.
Although wrought iron is incredibly robust, it’s susceptible to rust. Moisture, rain, and even bird droppings can cause your wrought iron furniture to rust in the winter months. For those reasons, it’s best to cover, seal, or bring this type of furniture inside during winter.
Natural stone furniture and fire pits look beautiful. However, moisture can freeze within the nooks and crannies, causing damage over time. During the winter months, it’s best to rinse off your stone furniture or apply a sealant.
Which Outdoor Furniture is The Most Durable?
Now that you have a proper vision for your outdoor space and know a few material types, you may be wondering: which outdoor furniture is the most durable?
Some of the best outdoor furniture materials to choose from include:
- Powder-coated steel
- Stainless steel
- UV-Resistant Plastics
Each material has its own set of advantages, disadvantages, and best-use cases. For example, high-quality UV-Resistant Plastics can be excellent options for those living in especially hot climates. Conversely, UV-Resistant Plastics may not be suited for environments with harsh storms, as they can be easily swept away.
The Most Durable Woods
The best outdoor woods are durable, weather-resistant, and long-lasting. However, most outdoor wooden furniture pieces need to be treated with a finish or sealant. Some of the best varieties you can choose from include:
- Douglas Fir
Keep in mind, each of these woods has its own pros and cons. However, Teak is considered the king of outdoor wooden furniture. Teak is incredibly durable and long-lasting, making it the perfect choice for harsh weather conditions.
Is Plastic Patio Furniture A Viable Option?
In some cases, high-quality UV-Resistant Plastics can make a viable option for outdoor furniture. Although the material won’t rust, plastic is still susceptible to cracks and warping.
These risks are especially high during winter and the colder months. On top of that, plastic is lightweight, making it susceptible to being blown around during harsh storms.
For those reasons, plastic might not be the most viable option for outdoor usage. If you do decide to go with plastic furniture, be sure to bring your pieces inside during harsh conditions. Properly storing and caring for your furniture will ensure its longevity and sheen.
Best Times to Buy Outdoor Furniture
Patio furniture tends to be priced seasonally, meaning that at different times of the year, you can get deals and discounts.
Stores and retailers commonly provide discounts from August to October when they’re clearing out their Summer collections. Generally, the further you are from Summer and warmer months, the cheaper the furniture will be.
Retailers also provide customers with special sales and seasonal events. Some dates to keep an eye on include:
- New Year’s Day (January 1st)
- President’s Day (3rd Monday of February)
- Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)
- Independence Day (July 4th)
- Indigenous Peoples’ Day/Columbus Day (1st Monday in October)
- Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving)
- Cyber Monday (Monday following Black Friday)
You can find incredible savings and deals during these times. Be on the lookout for Spring and Summer sales, as they’re heavily discounted. Other dates to keep in mind are Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and New Year.