Explore different designs, materials and functionality to help when choosing patio furniture for your home.

Choosing patio furniture can be a perplexing task with all the different types that are available.  It used to be you could only choose from wood, aluminum or steel, but today there are so many other choices, styles, colors and prices that it can make your head spin.

DESIGN

One of the first things you need to do when picking outdoor furniture is to decide what you want to use it for. Think of your deck or patio as an outdoor room and design it the way you would as a room in your home. Is the area for just sitting around, is it for dining outdoors, is it for entertaining or is it a combination of all?  This will help you narrow down your choices. You might only need a few comfortable chairs, a table or a chaise lounge. Maybe you need an umbrella table and some chairs, or you might need a little bit of everything including a dining and seating area.  Whatever you decide, never go shopping until you have measurements of the space. This way you will know what type of furniture will fit into the space and you won’t be disappointed when you can’t fit that big swing on the patio.

CHOOSE FOR COMFORT

If the furniture is not comfortable, no one will want to use it. Avoid buying patio furniture online or never seeing it before you buy. You must make sure that it is comfortable. Make sure cushions are plush enough to sit for long periods of time. Those skinny little cushions aren’t comfortable enough for the dog no less the humans in your family. When choosing cushions, press down and if the material springs right back up, it will be comfortable and will also dry quicker if it gets wet. Never purchase cushions that are not made for outdoor use because they will get hard, damp and moldy. Outdoor cushions are made of material that will not soak in moisture and are treated for mold and mildew. Make sure chairs are wide and have enough depth for everyone to sit comfortably and if you have someone that is older or handicapped in the family, make sure they will be able to get in and up from the furniture easily. When considering a table, make sure everyone in the family can fit comfortably around it and not knock their knees on a table leg.

FURNITURE MATERIALS

Choose the material the furniture is made of to suit your needs. You have many choices.  Aluminum is rustproof and very light weight. It is very inexpensive. However, it is not good for people that live in windy areas because it will take off across your yard in a high wind.  It is not a good choice if you have people in your family that might weigh a bit more. Aluminum furniture does not last long, but it is portable. Plastic, PVC and Resin furniture is a bit more heavy duty, but it can still fly off your patio in extreme wind. This furniture is made in many colors to match any decor. It does start to deteriorate after a few years and that shiny finish will dull. Cracks may even appear after awhile. It only lasts two or three years with good care, but it is very inexpensive and will take a great deal of weight. Steel and Iron furniture lasts a lifetime, in fact, you can go to garage sales and pick up this type of furniture for a song and dance. You just have to sand it down and spray it with metal paint to make it look beautiful again. Steel and iron furniture will withstand most wind, but it might need to be painted every so often. Buying it new is expensive and it can be pretty uncomfortable especially if placed in the sun since it retains heat. It is very hard and requires some soft cushions to make it comfortable. Wicker furniture lasts a long time, but it needs special care to do so.  Avoid it if you wildlife in the area because raccoons and squirrels love to chew on it. You can get wicker that is coated with plastic to stop that problem. Wicker furniture is expensive and you usually need to have cushions for it to be comfortable. It is very sturdy and will last a long time if it is weatherproofed and stored indoors during the winter. It can also be painted any color you like. Wood furniture is up there with wicker on the expensive side, but it lasts and is very sturdy. Wood does require some maintenance to keep it looking great year after year, but it is worth it. make sure the wood is weather resistant. Most wood outdoor furniture is made from teak, redwood, cedar or cypress and it needs a coat of weather proofing every year.

CONSIDER WINTER STORAGE

When choosing patio furniture also consider where you are going to store it during the winter. It is not a good idea to ever store patio furniture outside in the winter when you live in a cold climate.  Those that live in warm climates might opt to use their furniture all year long. Those in winter prone areas need to move it off and out of the winter winds. If you have very little room to store the furniture you might have to opt for furniture that folds up or stacks so it lessens the space needed to store. Keep wood, plastic, resin, PVC, wicker and steel furniture in a garage or basement. Iron can be left outside, and that is good because it is very heavy, but it will probably have to be painted more frequently. If you can’t move your furniture indoors in the winter, cover tightly with a tarp and hope for the best.

Choosing patio furniture can be an ordeal.  Look online to see what is available and then go shopping with your tape measure in hand. Furniture put together with stainless steel screws is much more sturdy and durable. Take a magnet with you when shopping and run it along the frame of the furniture. Aluminum screws and connectors will not attract a magnet, so if the screws don’t attract, don’t buy the furniture.  Check the bottoms of legs to make sure the furniture will not scratch a wood deck. make sure the cushion springs back immediately when pressed down and is made of weatherproof fabric. Purchase patio furniture in August or September for the best deals. The stores would rather sell it cheaper than store it over the winter.

 

This post is adapted from the May 24, 2014 episode of Home Wizards that was released on iTunes May 27, 2014. You can find this segment during hour one of the podcast.

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