Essential Guide To Buying Outdoor Furniture

Posted by Doug Sanicola on Mon, Oct 21, 2013 @ 11:44 AM

Have you been dreaming about creating your perfect outdoor space? Before you spend any more time or money it is important you understand all of your options. 

What type of frame fits your style? How comfortable should my furniture to be? How long will it last? And the questions go on...

In this essential guide to buying outdoor furniture we will answer those questions and more!


1) Choosing A Frame

The frame of your outdoor furniture is what holds everything together and provides support when your furniture is being used.

There are a couple of different options available: aluminum, cast aluminum, stainless steel, wood, woven and wrought iron. Different choices give you the freedom to choose a design that matches your home and your style.

The frame determines how durable your patio furniture will be and how long it will last.


This is the most common type of outdoor furniture frame material. This is because aluminum is generally the least expensive of all metals which make aluminum furniture more affordable than other types. However, because it is more affordable, it doesn't last as long as other frame materials.

  • Light and easy to move
  • Does not rust
  • Low maintenance
  • More affordable
aluminum patio furniture


Cast Aluminum

This frame type starts as molten aluminum and is poured into a mold, not bent into shape. This allows for intricate, unique designs that aren't possible with other frame materials. Cast aluminum will often be heavy like wrought iron.

  • Does not rust or corrode
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Features intricate designs
  • Low maintenance
cast aluminum patio furniture


Stainless Steel

Outdoor furniture built using stainless offers a shiny or brushed chrome finish that stands out from other frames. It can be used in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Instead of focusing on intricate designs, stainless steel is used for modern patio furniture, usually complimented with glass or wood.

  • Shiny / modern finish
  • Light and easy to move
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Can sometimes show rust
Screen Shot 2013 10 21 at 11.28.18 AM resized 600


Wicker (Woven)

When built with UV protectors and woven properly, synthetic wicker furniture can be both durable and comfortable at the same time. Because of the material synthetic wicker is made from, it will not get as hot as metal patio furniture. This is a great frame type if your are looking for a more traditional design.

  • Will not get too hot
  • Difficult to tear or rip
  • UV inhibitors add durability
  • Completely weatherproof
synthetic wicker patio furniture



While wood is naturally beautiful and comes in many finishes, it does require more maintenance than other patio furniture. Wood furniture will require brightener and sealer at least once a year to maintain it's look and durability. You should avoid soft woods like redwood and cedar as they deteriorate after only a few years while teak wood is the most durable type and popular type of wood patio furniture.

  • Classic, natural look
  • Solid and sturdy 
  • Requires regular maintenance
wood patio furniture


Wrought Iron

The most durable of all frame types is wrought iron. Because of it's weight it is very difficult to bend or break. Wrought iron furniture is usually more expensive but will last longer and have a better warranty than other materials. This frame can be used in a wide variety of designs and shapes, this is your best option if you want top notch quality and durability.

  • Sturdy and durable
  • Wide variety of designs
  • Can last 20+ years
  • Most expensive material
wrought iron patio furniture


2) Choosing A Style

Now that you know a little more about outdoor furniture frames, you will now learn about different patio furniture styles.


Patio furniture with cushions are most like your typical indoor furniture (some even use it as indoor furniture). It is soft to the touch and feels like a bed when you sit down. When you purchase quality cushions, they can be as durable and weather resistant as they are comfortable and inviting. 

  • Endless fabric choices
  • Most comfortable option
  • Can handle any weather
cushion resized 600



This material is stretched tight onto the frames of your patio furniture. While not as soft as cushions, this style of patio furniture is firm and molds to the contour of your body. Slings material can be very durable and is perfect for your pool patio because of how quickly it can dry in the sun.

  • Firm and comfortable
  • Water and weather resistant
  • Easy to move and clean
sling patio furniture



While straps are most popular among commercial patio furniture, they are not used very often for residential products. Straps are very durable but they are also the least comfortable and are prone to fading. Putting removable cushions on top of the straps can help with fading.

  • Strong and durable
  • Can add any cushions
  • Regular cleaning required
  • Should be covered during winter
strap patio furniture


3) Choosing A Set

Now that you know a little more about your frame and style options, it is time to decide which outdoor furniture set will work best for your home!

Below is a list of the most popular sets and how they can be used.

Dining Sets

From intimate dates to large parties, you will find countless options for dining sets. Tables come in oval, round, square and rectangle shapes of all sizes, materials and finishes. Dining chairs come in two options, stationary chairs and swivel chairs. 

patio dining set


Deep Seating

If you are planning on using your outdoor space for relaxation, deep seating lounge chairs, sofas, love seats and club chairs are a great way to add that extra comfort to your home. Ottomans, coffee tables and side tables are perfect compliments to deep seating sets.

deep seating patio furniture


Bar Sets

If you have an outdoor kitchen or even just a small grill, the high seating of bar sets will allow you and your guests to enjoy your backyard and it's scenery. This is the perfect set for entertaining guests when you have people standing up and speaking with others who are sitting, just like a bar or lounge!

patio bar set


Cafe Sets

If you do not have a lot of space in your backyard, a cafe set is your best option. Usually designed to accommodate 2-4 people, you can create a comfortable, space-conscious area to entertain guests.

patio cafe set


Poolside Lounge

Using reclining chairs or chaise lounges by your pool creates a resort style setting that allows you and your guests to lay in the sun after a nice swim. Sling style furniture is the most comfortable when wearing a wet bathing suit.

poolside patio set


Chat Sets

One of the fastest growing trends in outdoor furniture is chat sets. These low seated sets are perfect for casual dining and conversations. Chat sets are usually comprised of 4 chairs and a large coffee table or a fire chat pit for extra ambiance. 

patio chat set


Great! You're now on the right track to discovering the outdoor furniture you have been dreaming about. Now it's time to do a little bit of research and find which products meet your needs and match your style.

If you have any questions about this article or the products featured, please contact us and an Outdoor Elegance expert will be happy to assist you.

Or you can simply start checking out some products and see which you like best!

What do you think? Which patio furniture will work best for you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!

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Tags: Outdoor Spaces, California Lifestyle, Outdoor Living, Outdoor Entertaining, Patio Furniture, Outdoor Design Tips