Choosing Patio Furniture

Probably the most crucial part of creating an outdoor space with warmth and ambiance is patio furniture. Choosing well is imperative and considering the overall desired theme as well as if the indoor style is to be extended to the outside. Given the fact that patio furniture will be exposed to the elements all year around, it is important to choose a durable material too.

Easy care options are always the best for outdoor locations – although wood is popular, if it is not treated it will not be temperature and humidity stable. Variants such as redwood, teak, cedar, and cypress are the best in appearance as well as stability. Others such as rattan and wicker are very good for outdoor use. However, these materials do require maintenance every six months to ensure a long life. But the maintenance is simple and consists of a resin or weather-resistant finish.

Other materials such as steel, aluminum, wrought iron, plastic and PVC are also popular choices in today’s outdoor living areas. Most metal furniture is sturdy and requires minimal maintenance other than weather coats and polishes. Plastic and PVC materials are very common due to being lightweight, affordable and available in a range of colors, sizes and shapes. However, they are not the most secure during high storms, heavy rains, and in high winds.

Available Space

Before considering the style and material for your patio furniture, it’s a good idea to measure your outdoor space. Do not buy furniture that will fill the area completely. Try to keep at least five feet of space around the furniture and around doors and windows to ensure easy movement. For small to medium patio spaces, its possible to mix and match individual pieces to create a comfortable seating area.

The Best Quality for your Buck:

Most patio furniture falls into specific budgets. For example, metal furniture will be the most expensive as it is the most stable. This is followed by wood which will last anywhere from 10-20 years but requires constant maintenance and pre-treatment so that it remains stable. Wicker and rattan furniture falls in the middle bracket and is one of the most versatile furniture materials in terms of cost, style, and quality. Plastic and PVC furniture is the cheapest but is easy to set up, store, and care for in the long term.

Style and Color

As there are thousands of styles available, it is possible to be easily overwhelmed. Begin by analyzing your current style and themes indoors as well as outdoors. Choose pieces that “flow” and can be mixed and matched with your indoor furniture as well. You may wish to bring your wicker chair in for the winter and enjoy it by a roaring fire. You may wish to extend your “nautical” theme and choose painted wooden pieces which will enhance your wall mounted oars. Color rules are not hard and fast and you can mix and match almost anything to create a bright pop of color or a subdued but classy finish.

Does Outdoor Furniture Rust?

Outdoor furniture can rust if you buy a metal type that is not of cast aluminum. In such a case, you should ensure that you take the furniture inside during times of inclement weather. Alternatively, you can buy specialized covers to protect your furniture and fire tables during storms. Note that if you live in a warm/ hot climate avoid aluminium because it retains heat and gets super hot. Consider wicker or wood.

Chair Covers:

It’s not a necessity to cover chairs but it does make sense to store them on a covered porch. Adirondack chairs, in particular, may need to be covered in case of adverse weather. In the case of an uncovered porch, drop covers work well as they will protect wood, wicker, bamboo and metal furniture in heavy rain and snow. Most of these sets will also require cushions or backrests to make them comfortable. These are usually removable and they can be stored indoors during adverse weather.

Cleaning and Maintenance:

Aluminium furniture is the easiest to clean because of its smooth texture. It can be dusted with just about anything and clean it with a wet rag. Wicker furniture must be dusted with a brush because of its texture. Wood furniture needs to be washed with a power washer and then polished.

Is it cost effective to treat weathered wooden furniture or should I just purchase new?

When life gets busy and some of the little maintenance tasks around the house get overlooked, getting your backyard ready for your first summer gathering of the season can be last on the list.  Wooden outdoor furniture can certainly look very weathered, and maybe even frail.  Sometimes it just isn’t  cost effective to treat and resuscitate weathered wooden furniture and a new set is often the better option.

When deciding, carefully inspect all pieces of the furniture. Are there loose panels? Are the cracks so deep and wide that the surface seems unstable? If there are a lot of loose wood pieces or very deep wide cracks, you may want to consult with an expert restorer. Are there loose or missing screws? Screws can easily be tightened or replaced. Assuming that the piece is still structurally sound, it won’t cost much more than some time and elbow grease to resuscitate and restore your outdoor furniture at home.

Start with a good wash of all of the hard surfaces. Using a specially formulated teak cleaner and a plastic scrub brush, give the wood a deep cleaning, rinsing with a steady stream of water throughout the washing process, so that the cleaner never dries on the wood. Let the wood dry thoroughly in the sun for a day or two. Once dry, thoroughly sand the wood with sandpaper until smooth and even. Lastly, apply a sealer generously with a rag and allow to dry.

Let your eyes be your guide about whether to salvage or replace cushions. If the fabric is faded or stained beyond being able to be spot-cleaned, the fabric covering may need to be removed to examine the inner materials. If mold is present, definitely throw the cushion away and purchase a replacement. Otherwise you can re-cover the cushion with new weather-resistant fabric for an instant make-over at a low cost. Even if you replace the entire cushion, it is often cheaper  in comparison to purchasing all new furniture, and lengthening the lifespan of your original purchase.

Quality wood outdoor furniture can be a great investment. Regular care and maintenance goes a long way in keeping your furniture both functional and attractive. If its upkeep isn’t a priority, an advantage of choosing quality wood is that it is both durable and fairly easy to restore and refresh, often able to be tackled as a manageable weekend project at home.