Whether you have a spacious garden, a suitably sized patio or simply a compact bedroom balcony - when it comes to choosing the best outdoor furniture for your home, it can be difficult to know where to start. Our Garden Furniture Buyers Guide seeks to change that. From what material it's made of to question marks over waterproofing, we've made buying the best outdoor furniture easy. And this month - with the path to lockdown restrictions easing - we can really get excited about the potential for socialising over the summer! Outdoor furniture is set to sell out fast this year. So make sure you've got your outdoor living space ready with our helpful tips below...
Garden Furniture Buyers Guide
What Outdoor Furniture to Buy?
Before you buy furniture for your garden or patio, there are some important things to think about. And if you’re asking when should I buy outdoor furniture; springtime is on the horizon, so the best time really is now! Plus, with a holiday abroad looking less likely this year, the trends predict more of us staying and entertaining at home. Garden furniture is going to be flying out fast – everywhere. So, if you want your garden furniture ready for summer, start shopping immediately.
Is outdoor furniture expensive?
Outdoor furniture is designed to be used year on year and so garden furniture can be investment pieces. Price can also vary depending on what the furniture is made of as it needs to withstand a range of weather conditions. However, to suit a range of price points, there are cheaper, more affordable alternatives that are just as stylish! See our desirably priced outdoor furniture from Pavilion Chic for some examples.
What Outdoor Furniture is Best?
Choosing the Right Outdoor Furniture For Your Garden
When it comes the best outdoor furniture, there is no right or wrong. It all depends on what you like, what you are looking for and the space you’ve got to work with. Most garden and patio furniture is made from rattan, metal or wood while decorative features can include marble and concrete.
Wooden Garden Furniture
Hardwood Vs. Softwood
Wooden outdoor furniture is popular for it's natural appeal, solid construction and beautiful grain. But does it actually make for good garden furniture? The simple answer is yes. However it's worth knowing the difference between soft and hardwoods before you buy.
Hardwood Outdoor Furniture
Hardwoods like oak, teak, ash, walnut, acacia and eucalyptus make for the most durable garden furniture. Hardwood is usually denser than softwood as the trees are slower growing. These woods are more weather resistant as they contain high levels of natural oils. For this reason, hardwood garden furniture is less likely to decay. It is also very low maintenance. Cleaning can often be can often be as simple as a brush and soapy water.
Softwood Garden Furniture
Softwoods such as pine, cedar, fir, spruce and larch are usually more flexible and lightweight than hardwood. One of the huge advantages of softwood garden furniture is it's affordability. As a rule, softwood is less expensive than hardwood furniture as the materials are more readily available. However, even the best outdoor furniture made from softwood requires more maintenance than it's hardwood alternative. It is more susceptible to hot, cold and wet weather conditions and so requires much more care and protection.
Rattan Garden Furniture
Most Popular for Contemporary Style
Year on year, more rattan style garden furniture appears on the market. When we take a closer look at how these rattan set are made, it's easy to see why. Rattan is a beautiful material and gives a wonderful textural feel to furniture. However, natural rattan is not the most suitable for outdoor use. If left out in the elements, the sun can bleach the colour and rain can cause damage and mould. This is why many brands are now using synthetic rattan to construct their outdoor furniture.
Synthetic rattan furniture gives the look and feel of natural rattan but with higher resistance to changing weather conditions. It is durable, lightweight and UV resistant, with a much longer lifespan than natural rattan. This strength and resilience - alongside it's contemporary style - is why synthetic rattan garden furniture is so sought after.
Can Be Large & Boxy
Perhaps the only downside to rattan patio furniture is it's size. Often, many sets have a large, boxy shape which might swamp the space available in your outdoor area. Also, if you're looking for garden furniture you can put away easily for the winter, these large, more clunky sets can be difficult to store. Most rattan pieces will suggest a waterproof cover instead. So while rattan seems like one of the best outdoor furniture choices for style, durability and low maintenance, it's definitely worth considering what functionality you are looking for before you invest.
Metal Outdoor Furniture
Ornate Details & Smart Lines
Metals such as aluminium, steel and wrought iron are all popular choices for garden furniture. However, with a material like metal, there is higher potential for rust and wear. Despite this, metal patio furniture is highly desired for it's smart lines and ornate details. And with a bit of maintenance, you can keep metal outdoor furniture looking it's best.
Aluminium Outdoor Furniture
Aluminium is ideal for garden and patio furniture as it does not rust. It is also hardwearing and lightweight. This means that it is great if you wish to move furniture easily around your garden or store it in the shed over the winter months. However, if your garden is open the elements, the lightweight properties of aluminium may not make it the best outdoor furniture for your garden. It can be easily blown over and damaged by strong winds. Aluminium also holds heat, so it's worth placing it in a shaded spot out of direct sunlight during the summer months.
Steel Outdoor Furniture
Rust is a huge concern with steel patio furniture. However, this can be easily combated by purchasing steel outdoor furniture that has been powder coated. This coating consists of a finely ground powder that is set with heat or under UV light to give a protective finish. It makes steel outdoor furniture more durable with extra resistance to chips, fading and scratches caused weather and everyday wear and tear. It is heavier than aluminium, meaning that it isn't as easy to move but is a great material for larger items such as tables that need to be strong and sturdy.
Wrought Iron Outdoor Furniture
As the heaviest of these 3 metals, wrought iron patio furniture is one of the most sturdy. It's weight makes it ideal for windy garden spaces as it's unlikely to be blown over without a fight! However, for this reason, it's not ideal if you want metal garden furniture that you can move and put away at your leisure. The other thing to consider with iron garden furniture is rust. While powder coating and anti-rust finishes will protect wrought iron furniture from harsh weather, chips and weathering are inevitable. These should be touched up and repaired immediately to ensure the rust doesn't spread. Despite this, with a little care and maintenance, many wrought iron garden furniture pieces offer beautiful designs with ornate and artistic detailing that make elegant additions to garden spaces.
Stone Garden Furniture
Create a Casual & Modern Patio Space
Stone, marble and concrete are fast becoming some of the most popular garden and patio furniture choices. These natural textures are beautiful complements to materials such as rattan and wood and bring a modern feel to outdoor living spaces.
Concrete Outdoor Furniture
If you're looking to buy cement or concrete patio furniture, you'll need to expect some kind of aesthetic ageing. Like a leather sofa acquires more character with age, concrete will wear over time in an outdoor setting. Cracks and fine lines are to be expected and only add to the beauty. However, as it is intended for outdoor use, any concrete is likely to have been applied with a specialist treatment. This will increase the water-resistance and extend the longevity of your garden furniture.
Marble & Stone Garden Furniture
Natural stone such as granite and marble are great materials for garden furniture as they do not break down easily over time. The unique detailing of marble is an everlasting style statement and so is perfect for stylish outdoor tabletops. However, while some stone outdoor furniture will require very little maintenance, materials like marble may require regular sealing to ensure they keep their quality and appeal. Ensure to follow the care instructions advised with your product. It's also worth remembering that stone can be heavy. So if you want a permanent furnishing feature in your garden - great! If you're looking for something more adaptable, you will likely be better off choosing a lighter material such as aluminium or rattan.
Is Outdoor Furniture Waterproof?
Hard-Wearing & Weather-Resistant
In short, yes! However you should always check the care instructions of any outdoor furniture you are looking to buy. Frames are often treated with specialist coatings to repel moisture and keep furniture looking it’s best. Other outdoor furniture may tarnish under wet weather conditions. However this distressed appearance is often part of the appeal of these pieces.
Can Outdoor Furniture Be Left Outside in the Winter?
During winter, frost and wet weather can cause damage to garden furniture. To keep it looking it's best, most outdoor furniture will need to be placed under shelter or kept dry with a waterproof cover throughout the cooler months. Fitted covers for specific items are often sold alongside any outdoor furniture your are purchasing. Bear in mind that winter care instructions will vary from one product to another depending on the materials used. Always check and follow the care advice to keep your outdoor furniture looking it's best for longer.
Are Outdoor Furniture Cushions Waterproof?
Cushions for outdoor and garden furniture are often made from water-resistant fabrics. These repel water and will withstand the occasional summer shower - so you can relax if you forget to bring them in and get caught by a surprise downpour! While they are resistant, it's advised to keep them in the dry when not in use. This will keep them looking great for longer.
Can Outdoor Furniture Be Used Indoors?
Although that may not be their intended purpose, there is no reason why you can't use outdoor furniture inside your home. The Islington Bistro Table is a an excellent example of a multi-functional indoor-outdoor piece. The white concrete surface has been applied with a specialist finish for resistance against the changing weather conditions of exterior settings. But it could just as easily be used indoors as part of a modern dining scheme. Conservatories are one of the best indoor settings for outdoor furniture. They act as the passageway between home and garden. A rattan seating set, a metal bench seat or a contemporary wooden table would all work perfectly in an occasional conservatory setting.
Up-cycling Outdoor Furniture
Cost-effective & Kind To Our Environment
If you’ve got existing outdoor furniture that is looking a bit run down or in need of repair, why not give it some TLC? This is an affordable alternative to purchasing brand new outdoor pieces. Better still, if this year's interior trends have got you thinking more eco-consciously, up-cycling stops your old garden furniture being thrown out. This reduces waste and is therefore more friendly to our environment.
Garden Furniture That's Entirely Unique!
In many ways, up-cycling will really give you the best outdoor furniture. You will have an outdoor bench, picnic table or garden chair that is entirely unique. If you've got wooden outdoor furniture, why not try cleaning and staining it to give it a beautiful warm wood appeal? Alternatively, you could get creative with paint and colour. Farrow and Ball offer paints specifically for exterior wood and metal in 132 colours. The resin rich formula expands and contracts with the changing weather conditions, offering resistance to peeling, flaking and fading.