Nothing has the power to transform a space so radically as well-placed furniture on your patio.
With a few simple pieces, you can turn this once barren space into something warm, inviting, and comfortable, but you have to know what you’re looking for.
What is patio furniture, though?
Patio furniture can be used to describe any piece of furniture made specifically for outdoor use.
These pieces are created with high durability materials like wood, iron, and aluminum, known for their ability to handle the elements, so you’re not having to move your furniture inside the house every time you come in as well.
People use their patios for all different reasons, whether it’s relaxing in solitude with a good book or hosting open-air events where they get to be the hostess with the most-est.
Depending on your plans for your patio, you’ll probably find there are some quintessential pieces you need to pull it off, and materials that work better than others, so we’re here to show you what’s what.
Patio vs Regular Furniture: What’s the Difference?
If you’ve never kitted out a patio before, you’re not alone in wondering whether you can just move your regular furniture outside and call it a day.
However, patio furniture is a unique thing, as it’s been made with materials and manufacturing processes that mean it can withstand the outdoors and last a lot longer.
When you think about what the average piece of patio furniture goes through, you’ll see why it has its own class.
A patio chair, for example, will receive direct sunlight for half of the day, be exposed to rain droplets now and then, and possibly even be around for high-speed gales and wild winds.
Therefore, patio furniture has to be prepared.
The average piece of outdoor furniture will be made of weather-resistant materials, be tough against corrosion, durable enough to stay firmly in place and not get blown away, and maybe even have extra processes it goes through, like waterproofing or UV protection coating, to give it more of a chance for survival.
Choosing patio furniture outdoors is a no-brainer, otherwise, you’ll end up replacing it a lot sooner than you’d like to.
The good news is, this one-expensive mode of furniture has now become more affordable and with a larger range to choose from, so it means you don’t have to risk putting your regular dining set outside to deal with the elements whenever you want to entertain.
Essential Patio Furniture Pieces
An outdoor space can be just as individual as your home inside, but when it comes to kitting out a patio, some pieces feature often.
These are the most common patio furniture pieces to choose from, whether it’s an entertaining or relaxing space you’re after:
A side table or end table is a smart choice for a patio because it saves space and gives you easy access to whatever you need while you’re relaxing on your sofa or daybed.
These are smaller tables designed to fit snugly against a sofa and are perfect if you don’t want anything overbearing.
These tables are multipurpose and portable, so they can be used not just on the patio but any other outdoor space you visit.
A folding table is small, with usually a four-person capacity, and they’re a good choice for patios that don’t want or need a large dining table to suit many people.
Just like your dining table inside, a patio dining table is made to seat a group of people for a meal. In the world of patio furniture, the only difference here is the material it’s made out of, and possibly even a hole in the middle where an umbrella could be fitted for shade.
Having somewhere soft and comfortable to relax on is the dream for most patio owners and you can choose outdoor-specific materials that make it less likely to develop mold as well as being easier to clean.
These sofas come in all shapes and sizes, just like they do indoors, including sectionals and love seats.
You can purchase a set of chairs for dining separately or even a standalone chair like a swinging or egg chair if you want to sit alone.
These chairs need to combine comfort and weather durability together, so you have to look a little further than you would when choosing something for inside.
A day bed is a combination of a sofa and a bed, and they can be used to sit on and relax, or lay down and take a short nap.
Outdoor day beds have become huge in recent times as they give you more ways to use your patio, room for more than just one, and with the right materials to help them withstand the elements.
A bistro set is another way to describe a complete dining set made for the outdoors.
These sets most commonly come in three pieces, with a table and two chairs, but there are other configurations as well.
A bistro set is similar to what you would find while dining at an open-air restaurant and they provide major style and functionality to your patio.
Patio umbrellas are ideal for outside areas that still get too much sun, or if you want the option to move your furniture out into the garden for a special event.
These patios can either come with a weighted base that allows them to stand on their own or with the right diameter to fit into the pre-cut hole that many patio tables have.
The average patio doesn’t have a lot of storage space on its own so using a bench with it built-in is a smart workaround.
These benches provide a comfortable place to sit but have ample room underneath for keeping things like gardening supplies, shoes, fishing gear, games, and anything else you might want on your patio.
Patio living does come with downsides, and bugs are one of the biggest.
A carefully placed mosquito net can be draped over your patio or umbrella to keep these pesky insects away without stealing any of your fresh air or views.
Heating and cooling
The climate you live in and the seasons you plan on using your patio during will determine the heating and cooling accessories you need.
These range from misting systems and fans that keep you cool with water during summer to a standing, natural gas patio heater or fire pit that will make everyone toasty in winter.
The Different Styles and Trends
Designing your patio to meet your taste can be harder than it seems, especially if you’re not sure exactly what that taste is.
If you’d rather stick to a popular style trend and décor type, these are some of the more commonly used ones for patios, and how to get it for yourself:
Clean lines and neutral colors are the calling cards of modern furniture, and this also includes any greenery or other accessories you have on your patio.
A modern style patio leans more on materials like resin, aluminum, with some aspects of wood, and neutral colors for pillows, umbrellas, and the rest.
A rustic themed patio is perfect in winter or summer, and because everything looks naturally worn and loved, it doesn’t matter if your furniture starts to date.
Rustic style is all about being natural so use lots of wood, greenery, and even a fireplace, and then mix it with some bolder colors for the pillows, cushions, and other soft furnishings.
The retro look has come back into style and it’s easy to find pieces that embody this era for your patio.
A retro patio will feature furniture made of bold colors and materials like metal and wood but allows you to have some fun adding your own second-hand and vintage pieces to the mix.
There’s no need to live seaside just to get the coastal look and you can use this naturally weathered theme to your advantage with outdoor pieces.
A coastal patio setup will make use of colors like whites and blues, with natural materials like wood, rattan, linen, and cotton throughout.
Common Patio Furniture Materials
In the world of patio furniture, some materials fare better than others, both for their looks and suitability for the outdoors.
These are some of the more popular options to consider for your patio that will stand up against the elements and look good while they do it.
Wood is the ideal raw material for outdoor furniture, but you’re better off choosing hardwood options that will do better in this setting.
A hardwood table, for example, will be able to resist weather damage and still look amazing for decades, but they do require ongoing maintenance and care to keep them in shape.
Iron and wrought iron have been staples in garden and patio furniture for decades because of their durability, weight, and classic look.
The downsides to iron are that they can be prone to rust and will retain heat more than others, so it’s best not to leave them in direct sunlight or exposure to rain.
Related Article: The Guide to Wrought Iron Patio Furniture
The modern choice for patio furniture is aluminum thanks to its affordability and weather resistance, especially when it’s been powder coated.
However, some might be too lightweight and not have the longevity that something like wrought iron or hardwood does, so they need to be protected.
Related Article: Aluminum Patio Furniture – The Essential Guide
Plastic patio furniture is cheap, easy to move, water-resistant, and easy to clean.
If you don’t want to spend a fortune, choosing some plastic pieces is the way to go, and they can be treated with weather resistant coatings for protection, but they won’t last as long and are incredibly lightweight.
Related Article: The Best Plastic Patio Chairs for Easy Outdoor Comfort
Stainless steel is the most common type of metal used in patio furniture because it prevents rust and corrosion, has a high density, and is durable.
However, like iron, it gets hot in the sun, and in terms of appearance, might not be the most stylish look for your outdoor setting.
An acrylic textile is best for outdoor use so whatever you choose, make sure it’s been designed for this setting.
Textiles are important on things like sofas, umbrellas, rugs, and cushions, and in this case, synthetic is usually best.
Resin can be molded to just about any shape or style you want, and it’s extremely durable in the outdoors.
This polymer has become popular for patio furniture, especially things like PE rattan, and it’s one of the cheaper options but not built to last as long.
5 Tips for Choosing the Right Patio Furniture
A patio is the perfect blank canvas for creating an outdoor space that you can be proud of.
However, just because you like the look of something it doesn’t mean it’s going to be the right fit.
We’ve got five tips that can help you choose the perfect patio furniture to suit your home and still get the style and features you want:
Start with the necessities
Go out to your patio and take a look around, making a mental note of how much space you have and what’s really needed.
Think about what you want to use it for, whether it’s someone relaxing to read a book, a place for your family to hang out, or the place to be for hosting BBQs, dinners, and drinks.
Choose the furniture you need to make this happen first, with the wants coming second, and make sure you’ve left enough space on the patio for everyone to enjoy.
Low maintenance is best
While it would be lovely to have an all-wood rustic themed patio, it’s also a lot of work.
You’re going to get a longer life out of your furniture if it’s low maintenance and requires minimal effort, so this is how you should be shopping.
Think about tables and chairs that are easy to clean and stuff that can take a beating, even with rain and the sun shining on them.
Find a color scheme
Look at the natural surroundings of your patio and see what might work in terms of colors.
Your patio should be a separate entity from the inside of your home but you’ll still want it to flow nicely, so think about how it all ties in together.
If you’re unsure what works best, choose neutral colors like gray, beige, and white that is easier to mix and match.
Don’t be afraid of synthetics
Synthetic materials can be a godsend with patio furniture as they do better at withstanding the elements.
This includes synthetic fabrics used on couches and cushions, as well as materials like PE rattan used instead of the real deal to protect against moisture and UV damage.
Buy for your climate
Choose furniture that’s rated for the climate you live in and what will be comfortable, rather than just what you think looks good.
Wetter areas will want furniture with good drainage and protection against moisture, hot climates need to think about comfort and how it can affect the heat retention of furniture, windy regions will need heavy pieces that won’t blow away, and cold climates will want extra protection like patio heaters and fire pits.
The Toll of Heat and Sun of Patio Furniture
No matter where you live, how cold it gets, or the average rainfall each year, you can always rely on the sun to be present on your patio.
The heat and light that the sun produces can impact your furniture in a number of ways, which is why it’s important to choose patio furniture that’s designed to withstand this damage, and take further steps if needed.
The sun’s UV rays are the most damaging, with the power to fade bright colors of sofas and cushions, do permanent damage to wood, and permanently discolor paint and other surfaces.
When you’re looking for patio furniture, think about where it’ll be placed outside and how much protection it has from the sun before you make your final decision.
If there’s no way to avoid the sun on your patio, you can take extra steps to protect it.
Keep soft furniture covered with a UV-resistant material, use a tablecloth on your tables, and consider putting up a shade cloth or similar method of keeping the sun out.
The simple addition of a patio umbrella can do a lot of these things for you, but it also needs to have good UV protection, otherwise, it will be damaged as well.
Keeping it Protected Outside
Patio furniture is a huge investment and like any good investment, you want it to hold its value as long as possible.
In addition to the sun, other things can damage your outdoor furniture, like pests and water, so check out these tips for keeping it protected from the dangers that lurk on the patio.
- Choose synthetic materials that have been specially formulated to deal with UV and water damage. Although the appearance of natural materials might be appealing, synthetic ones will generally last longer in outdoor furniture.
- Keep pieces covered if you don’t plan on using them, and if extreme weather is coming, think about moving them inside. Not only can they receive water damage but they might blow away with a strong gale.
- Apply your own UV protection or waterproof coating using a product made specifically for outdoor furniture. These products come in all types to suit the material they’re protecting, including plastic, wood, fabric, and metal, and can be applied once you get your patio furniture home and with regular applications as recommended.
- Spend some time assessing your patio before you choose furniture to see where the rain gets in or the sunlight is more severe. Keep in mind, even if it’s not in direct sunlight, furniture can still receive UV damage, so you’ll want everything to be protected as if it were.
- Be mindful of the product descriptions used for patio furniture and what they mean. “Weather-resistant” doesn’t imply something can be left out in the sun and rain without a problem, with most pieces needing at least some level of protection and coverage.
Patio into Paradise
Patios don’t just start out as amazing entertaining spaces or havens for relaxation, they require some thoughtful planning and the right pieces of furniture to make them so.
If you’ve been hoping to transform your patio into the outdoor retreat of your dreams, you’ll know which direction to take with this guide and some choices that will let you achieve your vision.
The average patio is the perfect blank canvas, waiting to be turned into anything from a meditation haven or the ultimate party spot, with just a few smart choices in furniture.
To learn more about these unique pieces and how their construction differs from indoor types, we’ve answered a few more questions that might be able to help you out.
How Long Does Patio Furniture Last?
A good piece of patio furniture should last outside for around 10 to 15 years, but there are exceptions to this number.
Higher quality materials, a more forgiving climate, and ongoing maintenance and care are all factors that can give your patio furniture more life, so it’s not just about the construction of the furniture.
How Much Should I Pay for Patio Furniture?
The price of patio furniture will depend on its quality, size, and materials, with an average set including a side table, sofa, and chair ranging from $400 to $4,000.
There are ways to find more affordable furniture but it needs to be weather resistant and built specifically for outdoor use, so skimping on something cheap isn’t always ideal.
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