Outdoor Furniture Buying Guide: 6 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Pieces for Your Home

Creating a comfortable and inviting outdoor space is an exciting project for many homeowners. With the right furniture, your backyard, patio, or porch can become an extension of your living space, a private retreat, or the perfect entertaining area. However, selecting outdoor furniture involves more than just choosing styles you like; understanding the materials and their pros and cons is crucial to making an informed decision. This guide will walk you through six popular materials for outdoor furniture, covering what they are, their average cost, and their respective advantages and disadvantages.

  1. Resin Wicker

What It Is: Resin wicker, also known as all-weather wicker, is a synthetic material designed to mimic the look of natural wicker but with enhanced durability for outdoor use. Resin Wicker comes in a variety of different colors and shapes and is very popular with many homeowners due to the flexibility of style this product provides.

Average Cost: The price can range widely based on design and quality, from $200 for a basic chair to over $10,000 for a complete lounging set with coordinating pillows.

Pros:

  • Weather-resistant and can withstand sun, rain, and humidity.
  • Lightweight, making it easy to move and rearrange.
  • Offers the aesthetic appeal of traditional wicker without the maintenance.

Cons:

  • It can be damaged by extreme temperatures (too hot or too cold).
  • Cheaper models may unravel or crack over time.

*Designer Tip #1 – Look for wicker products that are made from HDPE, which stands for High-Density Polyethylene, and have heavy gauge aluminum frames. Products made from PVC wicker will deteriorate more quickly when exposed to the elements.

  1. Composite

What It Is: Composite outdoor furniture is made from a blend of materials, typically recycled plastics, wood fibers, and binders. It is a strong, durable, and eco-friendly option.

Average Cost: Prices vary significantly based on complexity and size, but expect to pay anywhere between $400 for a simple bench and upwards of $2000 for a large table or outdoor sofa.

Pros:

  • Highly durable and resistant to fading, staining, and weathering.
  • It requires minimal maintenance without sanding, staining, or sealing.
  • Environmentally friendly, often made from recycled materials.

Cons:

  • Heavier than other materials, making it difficult to move.
  • More expensive initial investment compared to some other materials.
  1. Teak

What It Is: Teak is a premium hardwood known for its exceptional durability and natural resistance to rot, insects, and moisture, making it ideal for outdoor furniture.

Average Cost: Teak is on the higher end of the price spectrum, with chairs starting at $300 and dining sets reaching $3000 or more.

Photo compliments of Sunset West

Pros:

  • Natural oils make it weather-resistant and excellent for long-term outdoor use.
  • Develops a beautiful silver-gray patina over time if left untreated.
  • Strong and sturdy, capable of lasting decades with proper care.

Cons:

  • High cost, making it a significant investment.
  • Requires regular maintenance to maintain its golden color and keep it from splintering, including oiling and cleaning.
  • Not as comfortable as the resin wicker product
  1. Aluminum

What It Is: Aluminum is a lightweight and corrosion-resistant metal used in various outdoor furniture styles, from modern to traditional.

Average Cost: Depending on the design and quality, prices range from $150 for a basic chair to $3000 for a full dining set.

Pros:

  • Rustproof and resistant to fading and chipping.
  • Low maintenance, requiring only occasional cleaning.
  • Lightweight and easy to move or store.

Cons:

  • It can become hot when exposed to direct sunlight.
  • It may be less stable in windy conditions due to its light weight.
  1. Wrought Iron

What It Is: Wrought iron is a heavy, durable material with a classic, ornate appearance. Due to its weight and sturdiness, it is ideal for windy locations.

Average Cost: Prices start at $250 for a single piece and go up to $6000 or more for elaborate sets.

Pros:

  • Highly durable and stable, perfect for windy environments.
  • Offers a timeless, elegant look with intricate designs.
  • Long lifespan with proper care and maintenance.

Cons:

  • Susceptible to rust if not properly treated or covered.
  • Heavy, making it difficult to move and rearrange.
  • Requires cushioning for added comfort due to the hard surface
  • Conducts heat and can burn when set in direct sun
  1. Steel

What It Is: Steel is a strong, durable metal with a modern look, often used for contemporary outdoor furniture designs.

Average Cost: Similar to aluminum, prices range from $100 for simple pieces to $3500 for larger sets or more intricate designs.

Pros:

  • Extremely sturdy and durable, it is ideal for long-lasting use.
  • It can be finished in various colors and styles to match any decor.
  • Resistant to fading and chipping.

Cons:

  • Prone to rust if the protective coating is damaged.
  • Heavy, making it difficult to move or store.
  • It can conduct heat and cold, making it less comfortable in extreme temperatures.

 

*Designer Pro Tips #2 – No matter what type of patio furniture you choose, to keep it looking pristine for years to come, it's essential to keep it properly covered and out of the elements. Rain, sunlight, dust, and fluctuating temperatures wreak havoc on all types of patio furniture. Some pieces will come with their own covers; if yours does not, here is a link to some of our favorite ones.

When choosing outdoor furniture, consider how each material aligns with your lifestyle, climate, and design preferences. By understanding each material's characteristics, costs, and maintenance requirements, you can select pieces that will enhance your outdoor space for years to come. Whether you prioritize durability, maintenance, or aesthetics, there's an outdoor furniture material that meets your needs and helps turn your outdoor area into your favorite place to relax and entertain.

 

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