As winter melts away, you’re probably looking forward to spending more time outdoors, whether you’re having a barbeque or just relaxing in your back yard. You can make your time outside more comfortable if you have the right outdoor furniture.
The trend in outdoor furniture is maintenance-free varieties. Look for materials that you won’t need to refinish, and that will clean up easily.
Step 1: Consider your needs
Do you love to have big outdoor bashes? Or do you have kids, and you need storage for outdoor toys? The answer to these questions will help you choose furniture that’s right for you.
Outdoor parties: If you have parties with lots of guests, you want to look for sturdy seating and small tables for people to place drinks and plates. Try practical choices, such as Adirondack chairs, wicker chairs, teak chaise lounge chairs or benches, depending on the number of people you think will come.
Lots of toys: Look for something functional, such as a storage bench to tuck away your outdoor toys or furniture covers. Not only does this work to keep your back yard looking tidy, it also offers another place to plop down and relax.
Outdoor meals: If you love eating outdoors, you’ll want to look for patio chairs and tables, with a nice umbrella to keep the sun out of your face.
Step 2: All-weather materials
Let’s face it – you want to enjoy your new outdoor furniture, not spend all of your time taking care of it. Make sure you choose durable, easy-to-clean pieces for your deck or patio. And follow the care instructions on your furniture to make it last.
Plastic: Plastics are ideal if you want to keep it simple. Look for iodized finishes and aluminum frames or aluminum with baked-on enamel.
Cast and casual aluminum: This choice is popular these day because it’s rustproof and lightweight. Casual aluminum is hollow; cast is not.
Fabrics: Look for 100 percent acrylic fabrics because you want them to be able to withstand rain without fading or getting moldy. Filling should be polyester, so it sheds water and dries quickly.
Wrought iron: Add comfy cushions to update the look of wrought iron furniture. You can go neutral or be bold and add a splash of color to your cushions. Red seems to be popping up as a fresh new color this season.
Teak: Let this wood go to its natural silver gray, and you have furniture that’s made to last forever. And you won’t have to re-stain it or do anything to maintain it.
Step 3: Determine your budget.
You can spend next to nothing or a small fortune on outdoor furniture. Some of the better furniture for outdoors looks pretty much like something you might actually find indoors. You can go contemporary or classic, depending on your style. Most designers recommend that your outdoor furniture mirror the style of your interior decorating.
Cast aluminum and teak cost more, but are more durable. Plastics can be cheaper, but they’ll blow away in a strong wind. They also warp or fade in the sun, so you need to keep them covered.
Here are a few prices to consider, but the key is to shop around to find the best deals in your area.
Adirondack chairs: $100 for chairs; $150 for loveseat.
Bamboo and wicker: $150 for a bamboo garden bench; less for wicker
Wrought iron: $200 for wrought iron garden bench.
Teak bench: $550; cedar: $325
Sets: Plastic table and chairs start as low as $200 a set, but you can pay thousands for sets once you start talking about more durable materials.
Sources: best-in-patio-furniture.com; hgtv.com; diynetwork.com; patio-n-outdoor-furniture.com; patioandgardenfurniture.com