Choosing Your New Outdoor Furniture: A Helpful Guide

  • Written By: Rachel
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Making your outdoor space somewhere that entices you or your guests outside is quite a goal and one that can be accomplished with the right preparation. Of course, your budget overshadows any other consideration. However, the budget is only the most important thing to keep in mind when planning your outdoor furniture purchases.   

Besides that budget, you need to consider the common weather in your area and the conditions of the outdoor space you want to furnish. You should also keep in mind the size of the space and the functionality of the furniture you will be buying. 

So long as you take all of these points into consideration, you won’t be disappointed in what you have purchased. Read on to find out in more detail what you should consider before investing in outdoor furniture.  

What is the Weather & Condition of the Outdoor Space?

The weather in your area should dictate what kind of materials you need your outdoor furniture to be made of. Sure, the rattan might look great, but will it stand up to the test of time in a very humid or conversely dry climate? Will your outdoor space be covered or will the sun be on your furniture daily for hours at a time? 

What are the Best Outdoor Furniture... x
What are the Best Outdoor Furniture Brands

All of this matters. Hot and dry temperatures can cause cracking, while humid weather conditions can promote rotting, especially in wood. If you live near a coast, be aware that iron, though it’s heavier than aluminum and can withstand the wind – is prone to suffering from the salty, sea air. The one thing that will probably do the most damage to any furniture is the UV rays of the sun. 

If you want your furniture to last, remember how much upkeep you’ll need to put into them and also what type of materials will work best for where you plan on putting the furniture. Even factory finishes will break down over time, so know what you’ll need to buy and use to protect your investment. 

If your outdoor furniture will be directly on soft earth versus on a hard maintained concrete patio there are more things you’ll need to do to be proactive in protecting it. Also, if your furniture will be directly on the ground, you’ll want to look for furniture that won’t sink into the ground when someone sits on it. 

There’s a big difference between purchasing for an area that will be open to the elements and an area that will be covered and protected. Wooden furniture can be made with thick bases for support on soft ground, but you also will need to use a wood varnish and protectant on it. After all, wood on moist earth can begin to rot and metals without protection can corrode and rust. 

For instance, we didn’t have to worry about ground contact, because we have a cement patio. Also, our space will be covered and have curtains to protect the furniture hanging from the sides. I chose furniture with metal for support and rattan over that because there’s less likely a chance that it will be deteriorated by the sun’s rays. The budget was kept and so I was able to purchase another set of chairs that can be moved from the patio into the yard as we want. 

The metal chairs that might be taken off the patio, I plan on painting with a protectant. I also plan on spraying the cushions we use outside with a fabric protectant. Be sure that you get fabric made for less fading and for outdoor use. And it won’t hurt to further prep it to be mildew resistant. During certain seasons, there is a lot of rain here, and I don’t want to take the chance of mold or mildew growing. An extra layer of protection doesn’t hurt.  

Choosing the Right Furniture Based on the Size of Your Outdoor Space

The shape and size of your outdoor space will dictate what kind and size of furniture you can get away with. Big, bulky sets won’t do on a narrow back patio. Then again, if you have the room and want to make the most of your outdoor time, maybe big and comfy along with a nice heating element would be perfect?  You could enjoy that space year-round with heat. Again, it all depends upon your space dimensions. 

Don’t forget, when you’re planning out your furnishings, that you also need space to walk around the furniture comfortably. I almost goofed on that point. I was so excited about the furniture, I completely forgot that we had to actually get to said outdoor furniture. So be sure to consider traffic flow when you’re planning your space and what furniture to have in it. 

I used graph paper to map out the patio we have and to begin getting some ideas of what size furniture and shapes we could handle on it. I had to be aware of the columns from the gazebo we had ordered and the position of the hot tub we planned to get later. I didn’t want to take away from any of that with a crowded patio of furniture. I made sure the furniture would take up the proper space and that it had an ‘L’ shape that worked with the positioning I had in my mind as well as on the graph paper. 

What Functionality Are You Looking For In Your Outdoor Furniture?

Another thing to consider before buying furniture would be what you plan on using the outdoor space for. 

If you’re into entertaining and plan on having people over, you’d want comfy outdoor furniture, but you’d also want room for drinks and movement. The lighting would be important and if you want your outdoor space to be used all year round, heating needs to be a consideration. You might want to include room for a bar or outdoor refrigeration. 

If you want to cook outdoors, you’ll need room for a grill or an oven and prep space. You may need to trade big comfy furniture with lots of pillows for stools and smaller conversation sets. Or perhaps even a large dining table and chairs would be more your style? That would give your guests room to move around more and be more functional in that space.  

Consider the time and effort you’ll have to put into those products as well as the possible discomfort some might bring. Here are some examples:

  • Furniture will almost always outlast the cushions, but those cushions will last longer if you just pick them up and store them more properly after each use. If you don’t have room inside, perhaps a small storage bin would be appropriate to add to your list of needed things outside. Some of those have multiple uses – storage and seating? 
  • Adirondack chairs are really popular for the beach crowd, and you can’t go far without seeing them for sale. Though I like the style and the hearty, thick wood used to make them, it takes a lot of effort for my friends and me to get back out of them. Bad knees and back pain are no joke and I don’t want to annoy those issues. What I’m trying to say is, before you get what’s in style, consider your body and the bodies of your guests as well.  
  • A hammock is great, but who will be using it? That will help you decide what type of hammock to get. How easy it is to get in and out makes a big difference. And are you willing to take that thing down after every event, so it doesn’t deteriorate quickly? After all, most hammocks are made out of rope and the elements are never kind to them. 

If we entertain in our outdoor space, we won’t have big meals outside. We might have snacks and definitely drinks, so I don’t need a big table, but some small table space would be nice. I want plenty of relaxation space along with space to use my laptop when I need a change of scenery. So, I want my comfy furniture with big cushions and a table nearby for setting things on. I also want it for year-round usability. That’s why I’ve invested in another table that is also a fire-pit/ gas heater. I feel like I’ll get much more use out of it than I will use it for entertainment, so this is my decision. 

What is Your Budget For Outdoor Furniture?

As I stated at the beginning, more than anything else, your budget determines what you can get. Once you have the size, set-up, and functionality down, you still have to answer to the budget. Even on a limited budget, there are ways to get the furniture you want for your outdoor space

For one thing, you can always look on the marketplace, shop thrift stores, or hop yard sales to find the perfect used furniture. Some sanding and a little coat of paint can work wonders for furniture.  

When fall is approaching – right as you begin to see the Halloween decorations appear – you need to be looking for discounted outdoor furniture. Big box stores like Lowe’s, Wal-mart, and Home Depot often begin markdowns during this time frame. Once it’s wintertime, those deals are usually gone. 

You can also look for outdoor furniture that’s less expensive due to the materials it’s made of. Be mindful of the weather and conditions of your outdoor space, choose materials that will cost less and yet should hold up to what you plan on putting them through. Choosing furniture made of resin, aluminum, or the least expensive wood you can find are examples of being thrifty. 

Final Thoughts

By the time you’re done going over all of the considerations above, you can sit down and make a list of what outdoor furniture you feel is absolutely necessary for the outdoor living experience you and your family want. Make that list and then begin shopping around to find the right prices on the pieces you need.