Your backyard is an oasis. It’s a perfect escape for basking in the sun on your glamorous oyster shell pool float or adding a new cocktail mixer to your outdoor bar cart. However, the key element to enjoying your outdoor space is the furniture. (What’s a backyard without a great space to recline!?) From finding the best fabric for your outdoor sofa to sleuthing out a perfect cabana, we know outdoor furniture is an investment that takes serious consideration and focus.
There’s so much to know about creating your slice of outdoor heaven, whether you love to host fabulous dinner parties or crave a self-care day from the comfort of your home.
So behold! Our guide to buying outdoor furniture is a round-up for making the best investment you and your guests will enjoy from summer and beyond.
What Are Durable Materials for Outdoor Furniture?
To ensure your outdoor furniture is strong enough to weather actual storms and stand the test of time, looking into the quality is key.
Metal is one of the most durable materials you can choose for outdoor furniture. It’s strong, obviously, and can be easily manipulated to shape elaborate and intricate designs.
Manufacturers can work with many different metals, creating thin frames or sturdy beams for a pergola, whether you opt for stainless steel (to prevent rusting), iron, or aluminum (as it’s affordable and is coated in furniture-saving protective paint or powder).
When considering how to deck out your space, wood is another classic choice. If cared for properly, teak wood specifically will be resistant to rotting due to its high level of natural oils. It also prevents sneaky insects and warping. A fashionable option is rattan furniture, but you might opt for harder all-resin wicker if you’re concerned about being weak.
Maintenance Of The Classic Materials
Wood furniture requires a lot of TLC. Wood provides a ‘natural look,’ but requires much more maintenance than steel or aluminum. “Many types of wood materials require sealing every three to six months or they will dry and start to crack. Natural wood such as teak will also age and turn gray after a few months of sun exposure.” And if you want it to look new again? Get out your sander.
Most metals need a protective coating. Iron is typically heavier than aluminum and is more suitable for high-wind and rooftop installations. However, steel and iron will rust in humid or wet conditions. A quality pre-coat treatment can delay the rusting. Do not place either iron or aluminum furniture in either chlorine or saltwater pools, as it will damage the finish. (On the upside, cleaning metal with soap or a mild detergent is all that is required in terms of upkeep. A fine automotive wax may be applied to maintain the appearance of a gloss finish.)
Powder-coated aluminum is the most worry-free option. This lightweight metal can be moved around in your backyard and easily cleaned. In coastal and high salt areas, salt from the air should be wiped off with a damp cloth regularly making sure the underside of the surfaces are cleaned as well or the finish will oxidize causing blistering. In most regions, only cleaning with soap or a mild detergent is required.”
Resin wicker lasts longer than plant-based wicker. Though it suits a wide range of aesthetics, plant-based (i.e., “real”) wicker can fade over time due to sun exposure and rain. It’s better to keep these pieces indoors and covered when the weather is stormy—so at the very least, on a covered porch if outdoors. On the flip side, high-quality synthetic resin wicker is resistant to bad weather and UV rays and easy to clean.
When Should You Replace Your Outdoor Furniture?
While outdoor entertaining allows for countless summers (and falls and springs—at least!) of fun, your furniture can’t be the party’s life forever. Outdoor furniture doesn’t have an “expiration date,” per se, but when signs of wear and tear, or, worse, odors, cling to your daybed, it’s time to let the good times go. The lifespan of any piece of outdoor furniture is based on its:
(So if you don’t take care of your teak furniture, even if it’s super high-quality and you live in a moderate climate, eventually it’ll go!) Case study: After months of waiting for your outdoor furniture. But those brand-new cushions should be cleaned regularly. Cushions and slings should be cleaned regularly to remove dust particles causing mildew, and dried out quickly when wet. Standing them on end after rain will allow them to drain more rapidly.
On the other hand, if your outdoor sofa is creaking and the cushions are clumped from years of intense washing machine cycles, switch it out for something new!
Inexpensive brands will typically last one to two years. High-quality furniture can last for decades, although it may require refinishing and cushion replacement. Environment and use also determine the longevity of your furniture. However, a typical rule of thumb is 5–10 years for a better product.” Quality and care buy you time, but eventually, the elements will take their toll. This website can tell you more about furniture.
How to Care for Outdoor Fabrics Year-Round?
Outdoor and performance fabrics (there’s a difference!) are available in countless textures, patterns, and colorways. The goal is to find the ones that won’t fade or wear in your climate. When you strike gold with performance fabric, you will know if it features three superstar components: UV resistance, water-repellent qualities, and overall durability.
Any outdoor performance fabric should be durable enough to be used year-round; they are not seasonally specific. Cold temperatures or snow would not affect the fabric, and even extreme heat should be okay.
When the Weather’s Hot
There’s nothing worse than sitting on a scorching hot cushion. Outdoor fabric should be able to withstand the summer temperatures, but darker colors will absorb more heat. Lighter colored fabric will stay cooler to the touch.
It’s also important to choose a breathable fabric that can withstand varying weather conditions. Many performance and outdoor fabrics qualify; don’t be tempted to use an ordinary fabric outdoors because it’s less likely to retain heat. It’ll fade and get mildewy outdoors!
When the Weather’s Wet
In the winter, cover and store your outdoor furniture. (And yes, even when it’s raining!)
It is always recommended to cover or take your cushions [inside during a storm,] as this will increase longevity. But if you plan to leave your cushions outside in the rain, and want them to dry quickly, you may want to choose something with a flatter surface—this will allow the rain to “bead up” and roll right off the fabric. A pile fabric (like chenille or bouclé) or something with a lot of texture might trap more water and be slower to dry. The thinner the weave, the more quickly it’ll dry.
Mildew can rain on your parade quicker than you think. Any pool water-soaked fabrics and even just rainy fabrics are susceptible. Mildew will grow on dirt particles on the cushion, rather than on the fabric itself. That’s another reason to choose a fabric with a flatter surface, making it easy to keep clean and therefore not mildew in the rain.
Now if you properly care for the fabric/cushion, more plush weaves should not mildew. (Just take them inside during a storm, keep them dry, etc.) . It is also important that the right foam is used in outdoor furniture so the cushion inside will not hold water. Hire an upholsterer with experience with outdoor cushions, so you know they know the drill.
Covering and Storing Your Pieces
Storing outdoor furniture is like parking your car in a garage! Your car will be fine parked outdoors, but it will look shiny and new longer if stored properly when you’re not using it. Don’t you have a massive shed reserved for off-season outdoor furniture storage? Not to worry: When you’re investing in outdoor furniture, check to see if the retailer offers custom covers to fit the pieces for maximum protection.
Store smaller decorative accessories and cushions in an outdoor storage trunk or when you’re not enjoying your outdoor space during cooler seasons. This will protect them from the sun and rain and keep them in top condition.
How to Budget for Outdoor Furniture?
Before buying or commissioning any pieces, it’s important to take inventory of what you have, what you need, and the amount of space you’re working with. Then spend where it counts. Splurge on the larger foundation pieces, like dining tables and lounge seating, that will remain outdoors throughout the year.
When buying expensive pieces, pay close attention to ensure they are designed with quality materials that will withstand weather elements. (For example, teak is pretty expensive but will weather nicely and stand the test of time if you care for it so that you can have those pieces for many seasons.) Save on smaller items such as side tables, decorative accessories, and throw pillows that can be brought indoors or placed in an outdoor storage trunk. If you leave one throw pillow out and it gets moldy, it’s not a huge deal to replace it. Choosing some smaller-price-point items allows you to swap them out seasonally, annually, or whenever you’d like to freshen up your outdoor space!
Where to Begin?
Preparing to build your outdoor dream experience? When it comes to finding the best outdoor furniture, begin the process by mapping out the amount of space you have. Before getting whisked away in the joy of entertaining guests outside, though, it is suggested starting your search with the table and chairs. A dining table setup is the best place to start when outfitting your backyard space—and arguably the most important [component]—because it serves as a multi-functional space for eating, hosting, and gathering. You can look to bring in lounge furniture for additional seating, and gathering spaces in your backyard.