Everything You Need To Know About Outdoor Patio Furniture

by Jeffrey Tottenham May 10, 2021

Everything You Need To Know About Outdoor Patio Furniture

When shopping for patio furniture, the best step to take is getting educated about the different types available. Choose between metal, plastic, and wood options, and find a set that best suits your style. 

We discuss everything you need to know about outdoor patio furniture. In this article, you'll learn:

  • Different materials to choose from
  • How long it'll last
  • How to weatherproof outdoor furniture to withstand the elements.

We’ll help you become educated on everything patio furniture-related, from purchasing to ownership. Read on to learn how to care for your patio furniture and choose a set that’s perfect for you. 

Get Educated on Patio Furniture

By getting educated on patio furniture, you can maintain pieces that withstand years. With proper care, owners will likely switch patio sets due to stylistic changes before the breakdown of the furniture.

Take the time to educate yourself about the different materials that patio furniture is made out of and how difficult maintenance is. 

What To Consider When Shopping 

At the beginning of your shopping, the opportunities will seem endless. There are plenty of different sets, structures, materials, and brands to choose from. Depending on the purpose, climate, and style required, you'll find a set for you. 

As a simple checklist, there are several things to consider when patio set shopping: 

  • Purpose of the patio set
  • Climate the set will live in 
  • Maintenance required 
  • Preferred material 
  • Storage 
  • Color scheme

Outlining the checklist will help store associates narrow down the best set for you. 

Purpose of the Patio Set

Consider what use you'll want your patio set to serve as. Whether you're looking for an outdoor dining area or a serene reading space, your requirements will vary. 

Take time to write out a detailed list of what you plan to do in your outdoor living space. Be realistic while making this list, so you can invest in a set that serves the purpose you most need it for.

Climate the Set Will Live In

The ideal type of patio set required will vary for customers in Florida versus those in Colorado. When shopping for furniture, consider the kind of climate that the set will live in. If there are harsh winters, consider a set such as wrought iron. For hotter climates, wood sets such as teak and eucalyptus will do well. 

Maintenance Required

Being realistic about the time and energy you're willing to invest in your set is essential. For example, if a customer isn't willing to stain or apply a sealant to a wood patio set, they are better to opt for a metal set. 

Preferred Material

Wood will give a very different effect than metal or wicker. Considering what material best suits your space is an important consideration when shopping. Stay educated about the maintenance of each different material. 

When choosing material, also consider what style you’re going for and how much money you’re willing to spend. Wood furniture will cost significantly more than plastic, but it will elevate your space and last longer. By outlining your goals of purchasing patio furniture, you’re simplifying the buying process. 

Storage 

Consider whether there’s a place for you to store furniture. If storage is limited, investing in steel or wrought iron sets may be a better option. If there’s a cool, dry location to store furniture during the off-season (such as a garage or shed), options will open up. Consider how much space is available. Stackable and foldable chairs will take up less space. Or, an eight-person dining table often requires significant room during storage. 

Color Scheme

During the shopping process, many buyers want their patio furniture to complement their home. Patio furniture is available in several different colors and finishes. When shopping, consider the color of the home’s exterior. Also, consider how the outdoor living space is landscaped. Choose a patio set that will flatter the siding of your home. Keep the furniture neutral and add pops of color with throw pillows and cushions. 

Different Types of Patio Furniture 

One of the first steps while shopping for patio furniture is determining the purpose of the set. For example, a set that will be used for dining will have a different structure than one for laid-back conversations. Outline a set understanding of the goal of the furniture set to understand what direction to go in. 

Types of patio furniture include:

  • Dining sets: Often available with a dining table and matching chairs, dining sets are perfect for hosting dinner parties. 
  • Sectionals: For cozy evenings by the fire with a glass of wine and your closest friends. 
  • Conversation sets: Often include a loveseat and two armchairs. Conversation sets are good for hosting smaller gatherings. 
  • Porch glider: A two-seater chair. Glides back and forth for conversations with loved ones. 
  • Swing: Often a perfect addition to a porch, swings may sit two to three people.

To determine the ideal type of patio furniture, begin by outlining the amount of seating you need. Mixing and matching different types of patio furniture may present a unique look. 

What Is The Best Patio Furniture Material To Buy 

Choosing between different patio furniture can be a difficult decision. Depending on the climate, style, and durability, the type of patio furniture chosen will change.  There are several different types of materials to choose from. The three main categories, wood, metal, and plastic are broken into subcategories. These subcategories are based on specific materials with individual properties.  

Wood

Wood is one of the most sought-after and pleasing garden furniture options. Featuring natural tones and intricate designs, wood furniture complements an outdoor setting. Despite its clear benefit of looking incredible, wood does need some upkeep. Depending on the type of wood material chosen, commitment to maintenance will vary. Types of wood to choose from include: 

  • Teak 
  • Eucalyptus 
  • Cedar
  • Cypress
  • Redwood 

We’ll discuss teak and eucalyptus in more depth, as they are the most common. 

Teak 

Teak is one of the most popular types of patio furniture. This is due to its beautiful natural shade and high oil content. Teak is known to be one of the strongest and most durable woods. It can withstand trickier climates that other woods may have a difficult time doing. The natural oil content in teak helps repel water. This makes it more weather-friendly than other wood furniture options. Teak also resists pests and rot. Due to the natural state of teak, it requires less maintenance than its wood counterparts. 

Over time, teak will begin to gray, only adding to its gorgeous natural hue. The softwood is easy to work with and known in the industry as being versatile. Manufacturers aren’t limited to what types of patio furniture they can make with it. 

Unlike other wooden furniture, teak is a more expensive option. Though it is worth its hefty price tag, the lack of affordability is enough to turn many shoppers off. It often can be difficult to find in some areas, as teak trees grow slowly. 

Eucalyptus 

Eucalyptus, one of the strongest woods available, is resistant to both rot and decay. Eucalyptus offers several of the same benefits of teak and it is cheaper and more available. Because of this, eucalyptus is a popular option for wood patio furniture lovers. Featuring a unique reddish hue, eucalyptus is sustainable, with an incredible growth rate.

Despite its many benefits, there are some downfalls to purchasing eucalyptus. Eucalyptus doesn’t thrive in cold weather. It expands and contracts in extreme temperatures. Regular maintenance is required to ensure eucalyptus furniture will uphold its beautiful red hue. 

Metal

The two most common types of metal patio furniture are:

  • Aluminum 
  • Steel or wrought iron

Though some metal does pose a risk of rusting, it provides sturdy seating that resists pests. 

Aluminum 

If you’re leaning towards metal furniture, aluminum is an excellent place to start. Not only is it easy to clean and lightweight, but it's completely rustproof. This makes maintenance relatively simple. During cold months and windy days, store aluminum furniture in a cool, dry space. 

Once the aluminum begins to wear off, make sure to protect the surfaces to prevent rusting of the bottom layers. 

Steel and Wrought Iron

Unlike aluminum, steel and wrought iron are extremely heavy. Thankfully, they can be left outside in extreme weather, so moving them won't be an issue. Both steel and wrought iron are strong, durable, and designed to last a long time. To maintain, the routine painting will ward off rusting overtime. 

Wicker

Wicker looks beautiful, but it isn't the most durable for an outdoor living space. When not in use, experts recommend moving it into a cool, dry storage space. To maintain wicker furniture, waterproof it every year. Wicker is one of the more high-maintenance furniture options.

How Long Should Patio Furniture Last

How long patio furniture lasts depends on proper maintenance and material. Unlike mattresses, patio furniture doesn't have an expiry date. Many different factors will dictate its lifespan. As time wears on, patio furniture will begin to look worn and need replacement. With good maintenance, patio furniture may need replacement due to trend changes before the actual furniture breakdown.

The longest-lasting patio furniture material is aluminum. Due to its ability to resist rust, aluminum and its minimal upkeep can last up to 20 years when properly cared for. The second best option is teak, as it has a natural ability to withstand water, insects, and rot. 

Doing enough research to invest in furniture that will last long is in the buyer's best interest.

How To Maintain Wood Patio Furniture 

Are you looking to maintain wood patio furniture? Between wood and metal, wood is the more high maintenance of the two. Maintenance options will vary depending on the specific wood you invest in. Despite the steps you have to take to maintain the wood, it's worth the time you put into it. Wood provides a beautiful, effortless addition to any outdoor living space.

Clean 

Make sure to clean wood patio furniture with water and mild soap solution. This will inhibit the buildup of mold and mildew. This can be done with a soft microfibre cloth or a soft brush in the direction of the grain. Following the cleaning, rinse the surface and let the wood dry before following the next step. 

Seal

The sealant helps preserve the color and provides protection to the wood. Depending on the type of wood purchased, a sealant can be applied every 1-2 years. Each time a sealant is applied, the furniture will need to be washed and sanded first. 

The type of sealant chosen will be indicative of the wood material used. For example:

The type of sealant chosen will be indicative of the wood material used. For example:

  • Teak: Apply 2 coats of teak oil with a rag before letting the furniture dry for 8-10 hours before use 
  • Eucalyptus: Apply 2-3 coats of eucalyptus wood sealer 

How To Maintain Metal Patio Furniture 

Maintaining metal patio furniture will vary depending on the type of material purchased. For example, aluminum will be maintained differently than wrought iron. 

Aluminum 

Clean the aluminum every 2-3 weeks with dish soap and water. Make sure to carefully remove any bird droppings, dust, and build-up. Pay extra attention to crevices, nooks, and crannies. After thoroughly cleaning, allow the aluminum to dry fully. 

For extra protection, aluminum can be sprayed with car wax or silicone spray. However, it usually responds well as is. 

Store inside during off-season to prevent chipping and damage. Due to aluminum’s lightweight build, we recommend putting it away in extreme winds. This will prevent the furniture from blowing away. 

Wrought Iron

Similarly to aluminum, thoroughly wash with a mild soap and water solution. Allow your wrought iron patio furniture to dry completely. Spray wax can also be applied for added protection. 

Wrought iron can be left out during the off-season. Due to its heavy nature, you won’t have to worry about it blowing away. Should you see any rust accumulate, make sure to quickly address the issue. Use steel wool to brush away rust and paint immediately to prevent spreading.

How To Weatherproof Patio Furniture

Weatherproofing patio furniture should be done. Do this especially in climates that often see rain and snow. We recommend moving your patio set indoors during rainy or snowy seasons. This will prolong the lifespan of the furniture. 

For upholstered cushions, spray cushions with a waterproof spray shield. This will help the water bead off the surface. Avoid the material from being in direct sunlight to prevent bleaching on the vibrant colors. 

Not only can furniture fall victim to splitting, rust, and decay, but mildew can occur. To prevent mildew buildup keep the furniture dry. When furniture becomes wet, let dry completely in the sunlight. Once mildew occurs, it’ll keep popping up. If you notice mildew, clean it immediately by removing upholstery. Wipe down surfaces with a mixture of water and bleach. If surfaces are not color-safe, vinegar will work as well. 

Other steps for the waterproofing patio furniture will differ depending on the material of the furniture. 

Wood

Look into wood-specific requirements for weatherproofing options. For example, teak will be naturally more durable than eucalyptus due to its high oil content. Over time, teak will begin to gray and result in a beautiful natural hue. 

When owning other wood furniture, protect the surface from ultraviolet rays and dirt. To do this, consider applying a clear water repellant or sealant. Many of these options will contain a mildewcide. Sealants that include a slight stain will cut UV damage. When purchasing a sealant, do research to find out the best application method. 

Wicker

To protect wicker furniture, clear varnish or paints the best options. Wicker furniture is made from rattan or split reed. Consider adding extra protection to prolonging the lifespan. Follow the instructions on the bottle or can for application. 

When cleaning wicker furniture, take the extra time to carefully brush away debris and dust with a toothbrush. Though this is a tedious step, it will improve the appearance and increase the lifespan of your wicker furniture. Putting time into your cleaning protocol is necessary for the maintenance of the wicker. 

Metal 

Consider applying a coat of liquid or paste auto wax to your metal furniture. Aluminum will naturally resist rust; But, other metals can fall victim to it. Using a silicone spray around any oscillating parts will help ease its breakdown. Inspect often for rust or chips. Treat as soon as you notice signs of damage. Once rust begins to appear, it’ll quickly overcome the furniture if not treated. 

Can Patio Furniture Withstand Outdoor Elements?

In short, yes. Patio furniture is designed to withstand outdoor elements. But; elements such as severe rain and snow can hinder lifespan. If you’re able to move patio furniture into a dry place during rainy months, you’ll prolong the life of your furniture. 

If you need to leave your furniture out in the elements, both aluminum and steel are good options. Because aluminum won’t rust, it's a low-maintenance option to choose from. Likewise, wrought iron and steel are heavy and meant to be left outside. We recommend checking periodically for rust buildup. If you notice rust, treat it immediately.

For wood furniture such as teak and eucalyptus, they will survive a good rainstorm. Despite this, we recommend storing them in a cool, dry place for offseasons. When treated appropriately, your teak furniture can last generations. Taking the extra precautions to ensure that your furniture is protected is a small task that’ll protect your investment. 

Regardless of the furniture, storing upholstered cushions is necessary. Upholstered cushions can quickly grow mildew and mold. 

Shopping Mistakes to Avoid

Like any purchase, there are detrimental mistakes that can harm the investment you make. Some mistakes to avoid are:

Choose Materials That Complement Your Space

Like anything, some materials are on-trend. Yet, purchasing materials that complement your living space is important. This will contribute to the cohesiveness of your patio. 

Carefully consider the type of climate and the design of your patio. This will help narrow down the materials and design that best suit your unique needs. Staying on top of trends isn’t the best idea for outdoor furniture.

Don’t Cheap Out

The term “you get what you pay for” comes into consideration when shopping for patio furniture. Your outdoor living space is something you should invest in. Inexpensive furniture has a tendency to break down quicker. It also responds more poorly to elements. 

Cheap furniture will often be extremely lightweight, unstable, and flimsy. Invest in staple pieces that will stand the test of time and last years. 

Beware of Other Elements

There are two other elements furniture owners don’t often think about fire and animals. 

It’s an age-old trick: put your patio furniture around a fire table or fire pit for some late-night smores. Yet, be careful of fire. Heat can break down sealants and cause irreparable damage to your patio furniture. Make sure to move the furniture far enough away to ensure that it doesn’t come into close contact with heat. 

When it comes to animals, we recommend avoiding putting your furniture under trees. This can make your furniture susceptible to bird droppings and insects. The best place to put the furniture is under a covered gazebo.  

Have a Plan for Rain

Make sure to have a storage plan if you can! For large rainstorms, putting your patio furniture in a dry storage place prolongs its lifespan. Taking this extra precaution will make a huge difference in the years that you get out of your patio furniture. 

Conclusion 

There you have it! The information and knowledge you need to know about outdoor furniture. Of course, there are other materials to choose from, but these are our favorites. If you’re in the market for an excellent patio furniture set, become educated about how to prolong its lifespan and maintain your furniture. 

When purchasing your patio furniture, acknowledge that it's a worthwhile investment that will make a huge difference in your backyard. By spending extra money on quality pieces, you’ll find that your furniture will last longer and look better. Look for furniture that matches your decor and complements your outdoor scenery. 

Jeffrey Tottenham
Jeffrey Tottenham



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