Buying patio furniture can be an exciting but also overwhelming experience.
It’s exciting because you get to upgrade and remake your favorite outdoor space with furniture and other items you love. As you go through the shopping experience, you envision yourself using these new outdoor items with your friends and family through many parties, get-togethers, and small moments throughout the year.
It’s overwhelming because there are so many options to pick from, new lingo to learn, tradeoffs to make, and uncertainty… uncertainty if you are making the right decision or you are making a mistake somehow.
I get it! I have experienced this many times, and these feelings are some of the main reasons why I created this site to help share what I have learned.
To help you overcome the overwhelming feeling, below are my tips for overcoming 7 common mistakes when buying patio furniture.
Read on below to learn more!
Table of Contents
Not Knowing the Importance of Patio Furniture Materials
If you have spent any time shopping for patio furniture, you will quickly be overwhelmed with all material types: steel, wicker, PE Rattan, polyester, aluminum, Sunbrella, olefin, canvas, HDPE, recycled plastic, wrought iron, etc…
Umm… who has time to be a furniture material connoisseur? Just give me something that looks good and will last a long time! Am I right?!
Knowing the frame, fabric, and cushion patio furniture materials is essential, though, because it’s not clear just by looking at furniture if it will hold up in your backyard. Some materials will stand the test of time in your backyard better than others.
Some people make the mistake of not knowing which materials will perform better than other materials, resulting in them buying patio furniture that might not last as long as they expect.
📣 Use my ranking guide to help pick out the right materials for you! There is a lot to cover about all the different materials, so I made a simple patio furniture ranking guide that helps break down which materials are better than others.
I highly recommend using this guide to help you through the process of picking patio furniture.
📣 Best materials recommendations. Here are my straightforward recommendations for the most durable and weather-resistant patio furniture materials:
- Metal: Aluminum (won’t rust and is lightweight)
- Wood: Teak (very durable)
- Wicker: HDPE (won’t degrade like other types of resin)
- Plastic: HDPE (incredibly durable and weather resistant)
Read this post to learn more about Aluminum, Teak, and HDPE.
- Other performance fabrics (Nuvella, InsideOut, CushionGuard, etc.)
These are all very weather-resistant fabrics.
- Quick-Dry Foam (foam won’t hold water like a sponge; not all brands have this option though)
- Thick (>5”) Cushions (bottom cushions usually wrapped in “batting” to make the cushion smooth and more comfortable)
Not Getting Furniture with a Warranty
New patio furniture will be a big investment! You can easily spend several thousand dollars on upgrading your outdoor furniture.
This high cost is why:
- You need to know your materials (see Mistake #1 above) to make sure you get a piece of furniture that will last. Backyard wear and tear will happen; you need materials that can handle the outdoors
- Make sure you get furniture backed by a warranty to cover any manufacturing defects.
One thing that I want to make clear is that a warranty won’t cover normal wear and tear. See point #1 above again – you need high-quality materials to help guard against that.
A warranty ensures that your furniture won’t fall apart because of bad workmanship or manufacturing of the furniture (note: you will have to read the fine print to see what is covered by each warranty because each brand will have different coverage).
Some people make the mistake of overlooking the importance of a warranty and running the risk of being stuck with poorly constructed patio furniture.
Quality patio furniture brands offer some type of limited warranty. An industry average warranty on patio furniture is about one year, with some brands offering 5, 10, and 20-year warranties.
📣 Always get patio furniture with a warranty, even if it is a one-year warranty. This warranty ensures you will get a quality made product for your backyard.
📣 If you have the option, it can be a good idea to get an extended warranty on your furniture to give you additional peace of mind. Some brands and retailers offer extended warranties through a company like Extend at checkout.
Not Accounting for Shipping Costs
More than likely, that new outdoor furniture you are going to buy is going to be shipped to your house. What does that mean? Additional shipping fees!
Isn’t that always fun when you get to check out only to find that your total is much higher than you expected because shipping and taxes get added in? Spoiler: it’s not! In many cases, that shipping cost can add a few hundred dollars to the final price.
Not accounting for shipping costs in the total price of an outdoor furniture purchase is where some people make a mistake. What was once a great price might not seem that way at checkout 😢
Luckily, there are many outdoor furniture brands and retailers that offer free shipping!
This can be a real game-changer if you debating between two similarly priced items and one has a shipping cost and the other doesn’t.
📣 Check if the brand or retailer you are shopping offers free shipping. This free shipping will usually either be free shipping on any order or for orders over a certain dollar amount.
📣 If you are comparing the cost of items between different brands or retailers, make sure you always account for the cost of shipping to give you a better estimate of the true cost of an item if one brand or retailer doesn’t have free shipping.
Missing Out on Deals
As stated before, high-quality outdoor furniture will not be cheap.
For a furniture set that seats four people and a few other items to furnish your outdoor space fully, you can easily spend a few thousand dollars. This will put a dent in anyone’s budget!
But just because patio furniture can be expensive doesn’t mean you can’t find a good deal!
Some people might make a mistake in not waiting for their favorite patio furniture to go on sale.
The bulk of the patio furniture shopping season typically starts around President’s Day and usually wraps up around the Labor Day holiday. Between these two holidays, outdoor furniture retailers and brands will host many sales events that offer items anywhere from 10% to 50% off.
📣 Wait, if you can, for a major holiday for the best discounts. If you can wait, there are some holidays when nearly all brands and retailers have their best sales on outdoor furniture and other items. These holidays are:
- Memorial Day
- Fourth of July
- Labor Day
But that doesn’t mean those are the only days to find sales. We have closely watched patio furniture sales events over the past few years and found that companies can offer specials all throughout the spring and summer. You will find some great deals on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and year-end holidays too.
📣 Buy early in the season to get in-stock items. Most places will have the highest stock of patio furniture during the spring and early summer. If you plan to wait until later in the summer to buy patio furniture, you might be faced with some items that are out of stock. So if you find an early deal on an item you like, you should snatch it up!
Being Unprepared for Delivery
More than likely, you will have your new outdoor furniture delivered to your house through a shipping company.
This means after you order your furniture, a shipping company will reach out to you with an expected delivery date. You can usually work with this company to schedule a date that works best for you to make sure you are at home to receive your new patio furniture.
On that date, a large cargo or shipping truck is going to come to your house with all of your new furniture in boxes and packaging. This can be a lot of stuff depending on how much you ordered!
Some companies may offer a service that will help unpack and set up all this furniture and haul away any trash. But this is usually offered for an additional cost, and not all people opt for this type of service.
The mistake that some people make during this part of the process (and we have made) is not being prepared to store these boxes and packages at delivery because they aren’t quite ready to set up their new patio furniture when it is delivered.
For example, you might schedule delivery for Monday because you know you will for sure be home and you want to make sure you get your furniture as soon as you can. But you can’t set it up that day, and it probably won’t be until the weekend that you really get around to setting it up.
In this case, you will need a place to store your boxes and packages of outdoor furniture!
📣 Schedule delivery as close as you can to when you can set up the furniture. The best option is to try to schedule a delivery date as close as possible to the day that you can actually set up your new furniture. Having unpacked boxes hanging around any part of your house can be an eyesore and a pain, especially if it takes up useful space.
📣 Prepare a storage space. If you plan on several days between your delivery and set-up date, I recommend you clear out enough space in your garage (or another area in your home) for all the boxes you will receive. Or, you can put the boxes in your outdoor space if the area is protected and there isn’t any rain or other poor weather forecasted (you don’t want wet or damaged boxes!)
Not Planning for Furniture Assembly Time
One of the biggest mistakes most people make when it comes to outdoor furniture is not being prepared for how much time and effort it can take to assemble your new furniture.
Based on our experience, it can take a least 5-10 minutes of assembly time for a single seat of patio furniture. This means if you have a sectional that can seat five people, you should expect 25-50 minutes to assemble this item (if full assembly is required). You can also use this 5-10 minute estimate for other individual items like coffee tables, fire pit tables, serving carts, etc.
Additionally, you need to account for the time it takes to unpackage your furniture, dispose of the package, and get your furniture set in the right place. This, again, can take at least 5-10 minutes per seat or individual item.
When you add it all up, you can spend several hours just getting your furniture out of boxes, assembled, and perfectly placed in your outdoor space!
📣 Get patio furniture that is no-assembly or has minimal assembly! Many outdoor furniture brands are making amazing furniture that has very little or no assembly at all. This means you unpackage your furniture, place it in the perfect spot (add cushions if needed), and it’s good to go!
No assembly furniture can take out at least half the time it would normally take you to set up other patio furniture. This can be a huge plus to nearly anyone, especially if you aren’t handy and don’t want to tinker with screws and different widgets just to get something set up!
📣 Read the reviews to estimate assembly time. Not all brands will be upfront about how much assembly the furniture will take. One of the best ways to gauge how much assembly is needed is by reading furniture reviews. Search for terms like assembly, screws, set up, connecting, etc. to help narrow results.
Not Measuring the Outdoor Space
One of the worst mistakes that can happen is that you get your furniture fully assembled, only to find out that it doesn’t fit your space. Either the furniture is too big, or you will need more furniture to fill out your space.
Then you are faced with a dilemma: do you return the furniture (which can be a big hassle), or do you find a different way to make the furniture fit?
In either case, you are spending more time and making trade-offs that likely could have been avoided if the outdoor space and furniture were adequately measured and compared.
📣 Always, always, always measure! Your starting point should always be to measure the “useable” outdoor space you want to have outdoor furniture. What I mean by useable space is the space in your outdoor area that you want and can put furniture in.
For example, you may have a weirdly shaped, acute angle of your patio that nothing can really fit in. Do not measure all the way to the point of this corner. Instead, measure to a spot near this corner that allows items to flow with the rest of the patio.
Another example of useable space is if you don’t want furniture up against a wall or you need to leave space for a walkway. Only measure the areas that you can put your furniture in.
📣 Check the dimensions of the furniture. All patio furniture should state how high, wide, and deep each item is. Don’t be confused by the dimensions of the shipping package! When you figure out the size of the furniture, you should be able to easily check this against your useable outdoor area to see if you can fit the patio furniture or not in your useable outdoor space.
That’s it! Those are seven of the most common mistakes when buying new outdoor furniture, and my tips to help avoid these mistakes!
And here are a few other things to consider when buying patio furniture and other outdoor items:
- Make sure you pick something that fits your backyard style and colors. There are plenty of options on the market that should fit what you are looking for. If you are struggling to find places to shop, check out my list of places to buy outdoor furniture.
- If you can, test out the furniture before you buy it! Retailers like Home Depot, Target, Lowes, and other furniture retailers will have floor space with patio furniture you can try before buying. Outer has a “Neighborhood Showroom” program that allows you to go to an actual customer’s home to test out Outer furniture in their backyard.
- If you want some peace of mind, though, of buying outdoor furniture online without testing it, check out the brand’s or retailer’s return policy to see how long you have to return the product (and how much it may cost) if you end up not liking what you purchased.