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Quick And Dirty Buyer’s Guide To The Perfect Patio Furniture

There are a lot of different kinds of patio furniture out there, and not all of them are created equal. From cheapie plastic deck chairs to fancy-hotel style outdoor day beds, style, quality, and price can all vary quite a bit. So if you’re a little overwhelmed by selection, don’t worry – it’s not just you. Choosing the right patio furniture for your outdoor space can be incredibly difficult, and even a little confusing. So how do you know what will look right, last a long time, and cost something reasonable? This quick and dirty patio furniture buyer’s guide will tell you everything you need to keep in mind before you buy.

Choose Patio Furniture Made Of Durable Materials

With most indoor furniture, style and comfort come first – a chair is a chair is a chair, and you can more or less pick one just by going with what you like. But outdoor furniture is different for the simple fact that it has to contend with the elements. That means that durability needs to be a top consideration, even above price. Think about it: a bargain-bin plastic patio chair might only cost you maybe $20 or $30. But with regular use combined with direct sun, heat, pool water, and other weathering you’ll be lucky if it’ll last a season before you need to replace it. Price isn’t a one-to-one indicator of quality or longevity, but it is worth splurging on weatherproof materials that will last longer, like resin wicker and powdered aluminum.

New Twists On Classic Materials

What does that mean exactly? Well, resin wicker is a flexible, synthetic material that resembles natural wood wicker, but is spectacularly weather proof. Unlike natural wicker, resin wicker won’t become brittle, crack, or fade over time. It holds its color and supple texture even with exposure to extreme heat, cold, dryness, and moisture. Pair that with a powdered aluminum frame – which is both lightweight and completely rust-free – and stain-free, water-resistant Sunbrella fabric cushions? And you’ve got a furniture set that will last you a lifetime.

Smarter Wood = Better Wood

Choosing durable patio furniture will have a huge impact on the way your outdoor furniture looks over time. In fact, even choosing one type of wood over another can make a big difference. While some woods crack and fade over time, patio furniture made of dense, water resistant woods like ipa or teak will retain more of their original beauty as they age. Any wood will naturally fade and gray over time without regular maintenance. But denser wood is less likely to splinter, warp, or split the way other woods will. That means that not only will it look better over time, but it will also last a whole lot longer.

Pick Patio Furniture That’s Easy To Clean

Just like durability, maintenance is another important quality that you want to look for in your patio furniture. Even the nicest materials will degrade over time if you don’t care for them properly; you need to be honest with yourself about how much time you’re willing to take to keep your patio furniture in prime condition, and buy accordingly. Even quality, weather-resistant woods like teak need a good re-sealing at least once a year. While powdered aluminum and resin wicker won’t rust or fade, they can stain, so be sure to keep them dry. Sunbrella fabric cushions (a go-to for outdoor upholstery) are highly water and stain resistant, but should still be wiped down and dried off after use to prevent the growth of mildew.

Synthetics Are More Forgiving

If you’re genuinely anti-maintenance, you’ve got to shop synthetic furniture. Look for pieces with weather-resistant synthetic mesh (like Textilene) rather than thick cushions. These might be a little less comfortable. But getting rid of any padding means that if your furniture gets wet, the liquid will run right off and it will dry quickly. Traditional cushions tend to absorb water and stay soggy, which can damage them over time. Fabrics like Textilene and Sunbrella are made with embedded color that won’t fade, and many also have a stain and soil resistant coating. At worst, you’ll have to wipe the surface down with soapy water. Pair it with a rust-proof powdered aluminum frame, and you’ll get a patio set that practically takes care of itself.

Keep Your Own Personal Needs In Mind

How Much Space You Have

Maybe most importantly, you want to consider your own situation before you invest in a full set of patio furniture. Style is probably at the forefront of your mind; after all, it’s supremely easy to pick something you like out of a lineup. But you need to take a moment to think about a few things that might actually be more important. For example: space. How much do you have, and how much of it will your prospective patio furniture take up? A too-large set can easily overwhelm a small patio, whereas not quite enough can make your space look empty. I love outdoor sectional sets that can be bought in pieces and combined to work in just about any size space.

How (And Who) You Entertain

Another important thing to keep in mind is how many people are likely to use your furniture and how often. If you move most of your entertaining out of doors when weather permits, you probably want a lot of seating. If you have an outdoor kitchen, you probably want a big table and chairs, (or several smaller ones) as well to accommodate all your guests in one space when you grill. Then again, if you host more for your children than people your own age, you probably want more kid-friendly furniture that’s water resistant and doesn’t have a lot of moving parts that can hurt little hands.

Think About Where You Live

This one might seem a little obvious, but if durability and material choice are important, this is even moreso. If you live in a place that’s really hot in the summer, really cold in the winter, or very wet or dry any time of year, you absolutely need to find a patio set made of something to withstand your area’s extremes – or at least one that folds, stacks, or is otherwise small enough to store in the off season. If you live in an area with a sea breeze, you want to avoid metal that can rust, especially iron. Humid areas aren’t as good for wood and hot, sunny areas are hard on plastic. Whatever your climate, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings before you buy.

Choose Patio Furniture You’ll Really Enjoy

Finally, it should go without saying that you should go with your gut and choose patio furniture that you love. If you’ve always wanted to turn your back yard into your own private resort-style island getaway, don’t back down from a beautiful, summery outdoor bed. Whatever your dream vision for your patio, and no matter what your style, you should do your best to try to find something that you’re actually going to enjoy using. If you just buy a patio set for the sake of having something sitting on your deck, that’s probably all it’ll end up doing!