10 Tips for Buying Outdoor Furniture

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Are you about to buy outdoor furniture? Are you feeling overwhelmed with all the new jargon and things you need to consider when choosing patio furniture? We get it, we’ve been there before, and we can understand how complicated it can feel to buy patio furniture. But don’t worry, we’re here to help! In the post below, we lay out our tips as you shop for outdoor furniture to help you find the best patio furniture for you.


Sound good? Read on below!

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Tips for Buying Outdoor Furniture

#1 Develop a Plan for your Backyard or Outdoor Space

At the heart of any patio furniture shopping should be a plan for your backyard or outdoor space. A plan will help you understand what you want to do with your backyard and the furniture and other items you need to help you achieve your goals as you find the best patio furniture. We have developed a detailed guide on how to plan your backyard, but we summarize the steps below:


Step 1: Determine your backyard entertainment goals and activities

Step 2: Set timeframes for your goals

Step 3: Identify and measure functional areas of your backyard

Step 4: Identify types of products that will help you achieve your goals

Step 5: Set your budget and prioritize goals and activities

Step 6: Set a time to research and buy

Step 7: Research and shop

Step 8: Conduct final budget tradeoffs

Step 9: Purchase items


The following tips provide additional detail on some of these items to better understand what you should be looking for when shopping for outdoor furniture.

#2 Know Your Seating Needs

One of the first things you should understand is how much outdoor seating you need for how many people you typically entertain in your backyard or outdoor living space. This will help guide what type and how much furniture you need to buy. For example, if you regularly entertain a large group of friends or family, you might want to consider a large outdoor dining set or a large outdoor sectional. If you typically entertain a smaller group or have a small outdoor space, you can get away with a smaller patio set, chaise lounges, or just a few patio chairs.


Keep in mind that you will also need to consider the type of activities you want to do in your backyard when determining your seating needs. For example, if you want to lounge and sunbathe, you might want to consider getting a chaise lounge or a daybed. If you want to have dinner parties or cookouts, you might want to consider getting a dining set. And if you just want a place to relax and read, then you might want to get a comfortable armchair.

#3 Know Your Style

The next step in shopping for the right patio furniture is to understand your style for your outdoor area. This will help you determine the type of furniture and material you want. For example, if you have a more formal backyard, you might want to consider getting furniture made from metal or wicker. If you have a more casual backyard, you might want to consider getting furniture made from wood or plastic. Additionally, you can consider if you want furniture with a lot of embellishments or if you prefer clean lines.


Additionally, it is important to think about the style of your house when choosing outdoor furniture. For example, if you have a more traditional home, you might want to get furniture that has a more traditional look. In some cases, this style can be achieved with wood furniture or wrought iron furniture. If you have a more modern home, you might want to get furniture with a more contemporary look, which is likely to include furniture with metal frames like aluminum furniture.


Finally, it would be best to consider the overall style of your outdoor space when buying outdoor furniture. For example, if you have a very spacious backyard, you might want to consider buying patio furniture like outdoor sofas or dining tables for larger outdoor spaces. If you have a more intimate outdoor space, you might want to consider getting smaller pieces of furniture small patio sets with bistro tables.

#4 Understand Frame Material Options

Outdoor furniture is typically made from one of three materials: wood, metal, or plastic. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages that you should consider when shopping for furniture.


Some materials are known to be more durable and weather-resistant than other options. We find three of the best frame material options are teak (wood), aluminum (metal), and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) (plastic). There are plenty of other options like acacia (wood), eucalyptus (wood), stainless steel (metal), wrought iron (metal), resin wicker (plastic), and polyethylene (PE) (plastic) that you will find across many outdoor patio furniture options. You can read more about all of the characteristics of outdoor patio furniture in our complete guide for outdoor materials.


In general, you want to look for frame materials that score highly on the following characteristics:


  • UV or Fade-Resistant
  • Spill, Moisture, or Water-Resistant
  • Stain Resistant
  • Mold and Mildew Resistant
  • Highly Durable
  • Low maintenance
  • Withstand all seasons (including cold temperatures and extreme heat)

Again, we find that teak, aluminum, and HDPE are the materials that score highly on these characteristics and make long-last outdoor furniture. So we highly recommend that you choose outdoor furniture made from these materials.

#5 Understand Cushion Material Options

Cushion Fabric

Cushions and pillows are a great way to add comfort and style to your outdoor furniture. Outdoor cushions and pillows can come in many different colors and patterns to fit any style. But, like frame materials, there are many different cushion fabrics available on the market. These include acrylic fabrics, olefin fabrics, polyester fabrics, and Sunbrella fabrics.


Two of the most popular and highly durable and weather-resistant options are Sunbrella and olefin. These fabrics are designed to withstand many seasons in your backyard and outdoor spaces as they are designed to be highly durable and weather-resistant. See our complete comparison between Sunbrella and Olefin for more information.


Additionally, you can find other popular fabric brands like Nuvella, DuraSeason, and CushionGuard. These are also great options for outdoor fabric.

Just like frame materials, you want outdoor fabrics that score highly on these characteristics:


  • UV or Fade-Resistant
  • Spill, Moisture, or Water-Resistant
  • Stain Resistant
  • Mold and Mildew Resistant
  • Highly Durable
  • Low maintenance
  • Withstand all seasons (including cold temperatures and extreme heat)

Cushion Fill Material

One of the most challenging pieces of information to get about outdoor furniture is cushion material. Not all manufacturers state what is used to make the cushion, so you may only see information like “soft foam” or “great outdoor cushion.” But statements like that are not really helpful.


Although manufacturers might not always disclose what is in their cushions, they certainly will if they use Open Cell foam, sometimes called reticulated foam. This foam allows water to pass through, which results in a fast drying time, and is usually treated to prevent mold and mildew growth. Neighbor is one brand of patio furniture that uses reticulated foam for its cushions. You may find this foam under brands like DryFast or QuickDry.


Another tip is to look for cushions greater than 3 inches thick. Typically the most comfortable cushions will be 5 to 6 inches thick, and they will be made from “High-Density Foam” if they are not made from Open Cell (or reticulated) foam. Additionally, look for cushions with batting (a material wrapped around the main foam) like polyester or Dacron. Batting can add a smooth and consistent feel to the cushion. An advantage of Dacron is that it is quick to dry too.

#6 Evaluate Eco-Friendly Options

When shopping for outdoor furniture, you might also want to consider eco-friendly or sustainable options. Many furniture companies offer furniture made from sustainable materials like FSC-certified woods or recycled plastic.


Generally, outdoor furniture can be eco-friendly sustainable in three main ways:


  1. Sustainable sourcing: The patio furniture is made from sustainable or recycled materials. You will find many patio furniture frame materials and fabrics that can be made from sustainable products.
  2. Sustainable manufacturing: The patio furniture is produced with eco-friendly practices. For example, no wastewater is made in producing some outdoor fabrics – this is a sustainable manufacturing process.
  3. Sustainable end of life: If you can recycle your outdoor furniture after it has reached the end of its life, then this is an example of eco-friendly patio furniture.

#7 Check for Warranties

Before making a final purchase, it is important to check for a warranty on the patio furniture. Many outdoor furniture companies offer warranties on their products if something goes wrong. Be sure to read the warranty’s fine print so that you understand the terms and conditions. For example, some companies might only offer a warranty for a certain amount of time or only provide a refund if the furniture is unused.


We have found that the average industry warranty is about a year. If you find a retailer offering a warranty longer than this, this is usually an indication of a high-quality brand.

#8 Know your Budget and Financing Options

Last but not least, you will need to consider your budget when shopping for outdoor furniture. The price of outdoor furniture can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. It is essential to set a budget before you start shopping so that you do not overspend. Additionally, many retailers offer financing options that can help make the purchase more affordable.


If you are looking to finance your purchase, be sure to compare interest rates and terms from different lenders before making a decision. You might also want to consider using a credit card (only if you have a solid plan to pay off your purchase) with a rewards program so that you can earn points or cashback on your purchase.

#9 Assess Delivery Fees and Times

As you narrow down your choices, be sure to evaluate the delivery fees and times for each option. Outdoor furniture is typically shipped via freight which can take a few days or weeks for delivery. Some retailers offer free shipping, while others charge a delivery fee. Be sure to factor in the cost of delivery when comparing prices.


Additionally, some retailers might have a longer lead time for delivery than others. If you need your furniture immediately, be sure to check the expected delivery time before purchasing.

#10 Understand Return Options

In the unfortunate situation that you are not satisfied with your patio furniture purchase, you might be able to return the furniture if you are not satisfied with it. However, it is important to understand the return policy before making your purchase. Some retailers have a restocking fee, while others do not allow returns at all. Be sure to read the return policy carefully to avoid getting stuck with furniture that you cannot use.


That’s it! These are just a few things to keep in mind when shopping for outdoor furniture. By following these tips, you can find the perfect patio furniture for your home.


Happy shopping!

Hi, I’m Ashley!

I started Live Your Best Backyard to share my hands-on experience and countless hours of research on all things backyard to help you find the best products, ideas, tips, and information for your backyard!

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