During warm weather, there's nothing quite as nice as sitting on your patio and having a morning cup of coffee or enjoying a delicious dinner with family and friends. With the right pieces of furniture, you can increase your enjoyment of the great outdoors and add elegance to your patio, deck or pool area. You can select from a wide variety of available options, materials, colors and styles that will provide long-lasting enjoyment. Focus on the following questions to help find the right items for your outdoor environment:
• How often and at what times of day do you use your patio?
• What items of furniture are you looking for?
• How much sun does your patio typically receive?
• What materials provide the right combination of style and durability?
• What do you need to do to maintain your patio furniture's appearance?
Types, Materials and Sun Exposure
From simple plastic chairs to elaborate teak dining sets, you can find almost any type of furniture for your patio. Depending on how frequently you utilize outdoor areas, you'll want to consider comfort, durability and style. If you live in a climate that does not allow year-round use, you'll probably have to store furniture for the winter months, so keep available storage space in mind when deciding on the number and size of items. While one of the best parts about being outside is enjoying the sun, too much of a good thing can quickly become uncomfortable. Consider adding an umbrella or awning to make your patio a more enjoyable place.
Types of Furniture: There are nearly as many types of furniture available for use on your patio as there are for your living room. Chairs come in a wide range of sizes, materials and colors. Dining tables can feature tabletops made of diverse materials, including glass, wood or tile. Loveseats and benches provide extra seating while swings and hammocks offer style and comfort. Depending on which materials you choose and how large each furniture piece is, costs can range from economical to extravagant. It's a good idea to purchase furniture based on how often you use your patio. If you only use the area occasionally, a few basic items will suffice. If you entertain frequently or spend a considerable amount of time outdoors, shop for comfort and durability.
• Cushions with springs and softer fabrics provide greater comfort
• Ottomans provide a leisurely, relaxed feel in outdoor seating areas
• Storage chests, coffee tables and end tables add style and utility
• Rockers and lounge chairs give you additional seating choices
Materials: Outdoor furniture is constructed from a wide range of materials both in terms of fabric coverings and frame material. If your furniture is placed in an open area with exposure to the elements, purchase cushions that will not dirty or collect mildew easily. Look for cushions with polyester fibers that allow water to run off and air to filter through, keeping them fresh. Cushions that have patterns on both sides allow you to flip them periodically, helping them maintain their appearance and retain shape. When considering frame materials, determine whether or not chairs will be moved around frequently. If portability is important, choose lightweight materials, such as plastic and aluminum. If you don't plan to move them often, or if they will be exposed to wind, go with heavier materials, such as wood or wrought iron. Use the chart below to determine which types of frame materials best suit your needs:
• Doesn't rust or fade Low
|• Powder-coat finish provides
• Use car wax or mineral oil
to protect surface
• Wash with soapy water and
|Plastic||• Often stackable
• May be made of recycled
|• Apply cleaners that prevent
• Rinse down with water
|PVC (poly-vinyl chloride)||• Lightweight
• Low maintenance
• Available in many colors
|• Wash with soapy water and
|Steel||• Sturdy and durable
• Requires little to no assembly
|• Apply protective finish to
• Wash with mild soap and
|Wicker and Rattan||• Lightweight and flexible
• Available in a variety of color
|• Dust occasionally
• Use all-weather fabrics
unless furniture is protected
• Wash with mild detergent
|Wood||• Types available include teak, cedar,
cypress, pine and more
• Teak provides an ideal combination of
beauty and durability
• Solid and sturdy
• Won't get too hot or cold
|• Use paint with UV filters to
• May require preservative
• Wash with soapy water and
• Use brightener and oil to
maintain original appearance
|Wrought Iron||• Sturdy and durable
• May be mounted on wheels
• Available in a wide range of designs
|• Use paint to touch up
• Apply rust protection
• Wash with mild soap and
Sunlight: While the sun provides warmth and light and is often an indicator of a beautiful day, it can also bring uncomfortable heat levels that make staying outdoors unpleasant. Constant exposure to the sun's rays can cause patio furniture to fade and lose its luster. If your patio or deck has direct exposure to the sun, you may want to consider adding an umbrella or awning to protect seating areas and create a more comfortable environment. Umbrellas and awnings provide protection from the sun and soften harsh light. They can even reduce temperatures for increased comfort.
• Table umbrellas can make dining outdoors more enjoyable
• Stand-alone umbrellas can be moved to various locations as needed
• Market umbrellas provide coverage over a large area
• Retractable awnings provide shade when desired and roll away at other time
• Choose mesh materials to filter sun while still allowing air to flow in and out
Motorized Awning: If you don't want to hassle with manually deploying your awning, look for one that allows you to retract it with the push of a button. Some also feature sensors that cause them to automatically deploy when it's sunny or rainy and retract when it's windy to prevent damage.
Accordion Tables: Accordion tables expand and collapse as needed to create extra space or save room. They make great additions if you want to have enough table space for occasional parties but prefer to have more room to move around the rest of the time.
Carts: Carts provide convenient storage and extra surface space in one stylish package. These versatile units are mounted on wheels and can be rolled around to wherever you're sitting to keep handy items within close reach.
Wheels/Casters: Some items come mounted on wheels or casters for easier mobility. This is especially desirable in items constructed of heavier materials including wrought iron or steel.
Collapsible/Modular Design: Some pieces of outdoor furniture are designed to collapse or come apart for easier storage and/or transport.