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Tips & How-to's13 min read

Patio Furniture Buying Guide: 12 Tips For Choosing The Best Pieces

Patio Furniture Buying Guide: 12 Tips For Choosing The Best Pieces

The weather’s on the up and up, so it’s time to purchase your new patio furniture for summer! Styling your outdoor space is a fun process, but there are a few things to consider before jumping into buying your new pieces.

Outer’s mission is to make it easier for you and your family to get outside and enjoy being there! We consider ourselves outdoor furniture pros, so it’s safe to say we know a thing or two about choosing the perfect furniture to make your outdoor space somewhere you love to be.

Here are our top tips for choosing the best patio furniture pieces for your style, needs, and budget.

How To Choose Your New Patio Furniture

Outside wicker patio furniture
Outer Wicker Outdoor Sofa with Armless Chairs

1) Measure Your Space

The first step in selecting your new patio furniture is to figure out exactly how much space you have to work with.

There’s no point in doing all of your thorough research, falling in love with a piece of furniture, and then realizing it won’t even fit on your patio.

Take accurate measurements of your total outdoor area’s length and width before narrowing down how much of the space you want to be filled with furniture. Remember: you still need room to move around comfortably without running into a sofa!

If you have a large outdoor space to work with, consider splitting the area into multiple zones, such as seating and dining, to create a functional space.

Our 5-Piece Outdoor Sofa is the perfect outdoor seating set for medium to large backyards, allowing conversations to flow without taking up too much room. If you’ve got a bigger outdoor space to fill, a piece such as our 7-Piece Outdoor U Sectional might be a better fit!

Something else to consider is whether or not you’re styling multiple spaces and how they’ll flow. Even if you’re styling a front porch and a back patio, you’ll want to have some cohesion between the two spaces.

Consider planning ahead to ensure your outdoor areas work well together and provide multiple places for you and your guests to spread out and enjoy your home.

For tips on how to arrange your space, check out this video!

2) Determine Your Needs

Your patio furniture needs will depend on what you’re planning on using your outdoor space for.

Do you have a large family? Do you entertain regularly? How much seating do you need, and which type of seating works best for you? These are all questions to ask yourself when it comes to planning your purchase.

Family dog on patio furniture
Outer Wicker Outdoor Loveseat

Consider the who, what, when, where, and why to help you figure out exactly what pieces would best suit your needs. For example:

  • Who will be using your patio furniture? Is it just your adult friends, or will the kids and pups be tagging along? (Read: potential for more mess!)
  • What will you be using your new patio furniture for? Are you a dinner party host extraordinaire, or are you a lover of those long, lazy afternoons spent lounging by the pool?
  • When will you be using your patio furniture? Do you plan on entertaining every weekend, or is your patio furniture going to be reserved for special occasions only? (We hope it’s the former!)
  • Where do you live? If you’re in a colder climate, your patio furniture may be out of action for a good chunk of the year compared to those living in the warmer states.
  • Why are you buying patio furniture? Are you replacing an old, worn-out couch, or are you filling a new, empty outdoor space?

If you’re replacing an existing piece, you may already have some idea of the type of furniture you need. If you’re styling a new space, this allows you to branch out and have a little fun with your new outdoor area.

As you can see, you probably have a lot to think about when it comes to determining your patio furniture needs! Start brainstorming, and be realistic about the various ways you want to use your outdoor space.

Feeling stuck? Take our quick Configuration Quiz to help you determine which patio furniture pieces will best suit your space!

And if you’re craving a little customization, why not build your own Outer piece to ensure your new patio furniture is created specifically for your space?

3) Test Your Layout

One of the most nerve-wracking things about choosing patio furniture for your deck, patio, or backyard is coming up with a layout that you love.

You’ve already measured the area to make sure the biggest pieces will fit, but how are you going to arrange them to make the most of the space?

If you’re early on in the shopping process, you don’t have the actual pieces in front of you, but you can still play with various layouts to see what works for you. How?

Disassemble a large box and cut it to the dimensions of the furniture you’re planning on buying. If you don’t have a large enough box, tape some printer paper together or unfold old newspapers to the proper shape.

You’ve just created the footprint of the pieces you’re thinking about buying. No need to try to visualize what the sofa, chairs, and table will look like here and there.

With the paper or cardboard, you can try various layouts without the backbreaking work of moving furniture this way and that. You can even have a seat and test whether you like the view.

You might discover that your initial plan won’t work as well as you first thought. You might even discover that you can accommodate more pieces — and, thereby, more family and friends.

Once you have the layout firmly in mind, you’ll be better equipped to choose the best pieces of patio furniture for your needs.

4) Create Flow Around The Space

Family dog on wicker patio furniture
Outer 1188 Eco-Friendly Outdoor Rug

While you’re testing various layouts, be sure to arrange the patio furniture to allow flow between various zones and around the space as a whole.

If you’re entertaining guests and there’s likely to be food and drink, you don’t want the furniture packed so tightly that getting from the grill to a seat is like running an obstacle course (with a full plate and a cup of liquid to make it even more difficult).

Even if there’s no food, patio furniture that’s crammed together can detract from the look and feel of the whole area.

If your patio has multiple zones, allow for easy and unobstructed flow from the seating area to the fire pit to the dining table and all points beyond. Similarly, if your furniture is going to be set up in or along a high-traffic area, make sure you leave plenty of room for foot traffic.

For example, if your patio furniture is between your back door and another major landmark (such as the backyard or pool), you don’t want to make people go out of their way to get where they’re going. As much as possible, maintain a straight line from point A to point B.

It’s also useful to keep the main paths of travel clear so you can carry loads in and out without having to first move furniture out of the way.

When all is said and done, open space and flow are as important as the right patio furniture for creating an inviting and festive atmosphere wherever you tend to gather.

5) Pick Your Build Material

When picking the build material for your patio furniture, consider two important variables:

  • Durability
  • Personal preference

Furniture comes in all kinds of materials these days from concrete, glass-reinforced concrete, steel, and stainless steel to teak, aluminum, copper, stone, and even wicker.

Some materials — like steel, aluminum, and stone — are sturdier and will last for decades. Other materials — like wicker and copper — are more fragile and might only last for a few years. Be sure to choose the material that’s right for your purposes.

That said, don’t discount personal preference. If you absolutely love the look and feel of wicker but your research suggests that it won’t last as long as steel or aluminum, don’t dismiss what you feel right away.

You’re going to be using and looking at this furniture for years to come. If you’re constantly thinking about the teak sectional you passed on because an aluminum version lasts longer, it’s going to detract from the overall enjoyment of your outdoor space.

Choose the build material that you love, but don’t discount durability in the process.

6) Factor In The Weather

Unless your outdoor space is covered all year long, the weather in your area becomes a very important factor when choosing the right patio furniture.

Most people plan for their furniture and set it up on nice days when it’s not too hot and not too cold. But your area may only get a handful of those days every year. What about the other 350-or-so days?

Before you buy, consider these important questions:

  • What’s the weather like for the majority of the summer?
  • What’s the weather like during the off-season?
  • How hot does it get?
  • Will your furniture get a lot of direct sunlight?
  • How much rain do you get?
  • Are you near the ocean?
  • Are high winds an issue?
  • Do you get a lot of snow during the winter months?
  • Will your furniture have to endure falling leaves, acorns, and branches?

Hot and dry conditions can make some woods splinter and crack, while wet conditions can promote rot. Strong winds can send lighter furniture flying, but some heavier metals don’t do well in salty air.

The answers to the questions above will show you what conditions your furniture needs to be able to handle on a regular basis. You may even find that you can eliminate certain options because they aren’t right for the climate in which you live.

7) Try Before You Buy

Wicker patio furniture
Outer Wicker Outdoor U Sectional 

When shopping for patio furniture, one of the best things you can do is try before you buy. Some furniture may look good in a catalog, on the internet, or even in person, but, once you sit on it, you may discover that it’s not quite right for you.

The cushions may be too thin. The back may be too upright or too laid back. The armrests may not be at a comfortable height. All of these factors can transform a good-looking sofa or loveseat into something that doesn’t fit your personal preferences.

We always recommend testing out any patio furniture before you buy. That’s why we’ve set up over 1,000 Neighborhood Showrooms across the country.

Visit LiveOuter.com to find a showroom near you. Request an in-person visit or connect with a Host virtually (our Outer Concierges will help coordinate all the details). This allows you to experience Outer products in person and get honest reviews from real customers.

If a virtual tour is more your style, you can choose to connect with a Showroom Host via text, phone, video chat, or email to learn more about Outer products and the many benefits you can enjoy.

8) Plan For Storage

Wicker patio furniture
Outer Wicker Outdoor Armchair Conversation Set

While most outdoor furniture can stay outside all year long without risk of damage to the build material itself, allowing snow to pile up on the surface could lead to rust and mildew.

If you live in a climate where significant snowfall is a regular occurrence, it’s best to either cover the furniture during the winter or store it indoors until the weather changes.

Similarly, if the winter months are too cool or are rife with rain, and you won’t be using your furniture all that much, move it into a covered space to keep it clean and ready to go for the warm season.

Keep in mind this may take some planning before you buy. Do you have a shed, barn, or garage with enough space to accommodate your patio furniture during the off-season?

Or, do you have tarps large enough to cover the bulk of the furniture to keep water and snow off? Do you have a way of securing the covers so that wind doesn’t dislodge them and allow moisture underneath?

All of these are factors to consider before you buy an outdoor chair, loveseat, sofa, or sectional for your patio, deck, or backyard.

Plan ahead for the storage you need to avoid stress and headaches later on.

9) Invest In Quality

Whether you’re looking for a spacious outdoor sectional or searching for the perfect outdoor armchair, quality matters!

Investing in high-quality pieces is the key to ensuring you and your new patio furniture live a long and happy life together.

Opting for cheaper patio furniture often means settling for cheaper materials that won’t last nearly as long. This furniture also usually includes cheaper construction, little (if any) warranties, and non-existent customer support throughout the life of your furniture.

All this leads to more outdoor furniture ending up in landfills sooner — and you needing to buy a whole new set again. The cost of quality outdoor furniture upfront saves you money over the lifetime of the product.

During your patio furniture research, keep an eye out for a list of hardwearing materials that will last you for many years to come.

It’s also important to check the warranty of your new patio furniture before purchasing to ensure you’re covered if something were to happen.

All Outer patio furniture is built using hand-woven, all-weather wicker and rust-proof steel legs that can stand up to heat, rain, wind, and snow. That means your new Outer patio furniture isn’t going anywhere anytime soon!

But our quality doesn’t end there!

We designed our cushions to be just as comfortable as your bed on the inside and completely stain-resistant on the outside. So, whether you’ve spilled some of your favorite wine (typically a true horror story!) or your pup snuck onto the sofa with muddy paws, Outer’s got your back.

For peace of mind, you can order swatches directly from us to feel the difference in our cushion cover fabrics for yourself! And, of course, this also helps to make sure you love the color of your new patio furniture before you commit.

As well as being 100% recyclable to help out our planet, all Outer furniture is designed and built to be totally life-proof, because life’s too short to be stressed over cleaning cushion covers!

Wicker patio furniture on a outdoor rug
Outer Wicker Outdoor L Sectional - 4 Seat

10) Opt For Low-Maintenance Pieces

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: maintaining your patio furniture. No one wants to think about cleaning, but it’s a necessary evil!

At Outer, we believe your new patio furniture should be effortless to clean and simple to protect. We designed our pieces to make it easy for you to maintain that just-bought look and feel.

You already know our cushion covers are stain-resistant (we’re talking bleach, mold, dirt, UV rays 一 the whole enchilada!). But what you may not know is that all Outer furniture has a hidden protective feature built right in.

Our OuterShell™ cover is tucked neatly behind your patio furniture cushions. To protect your furniture when it’s not in use, simply pull the cover over the top and you’re good to go!

Woman setting up cushions on patio furniture
Outer Teak Outdoor Armchair Conversation Set

This keeps your Outer patio furniture clean, dry, and ready to use at the drop of a hat.

If you’re after some extra protection, we’ve also designed all-weather covers for an added layer of defense. Yes, we really have thought of everything!

11) Match Your Accessories

No outdoor space is truly complete without the addition of some functional accessories to add a sense of comfort and bring your patio to life.

The use of bright, colorful throws, blankets, and cushions is a simple way to add personality to your patio furniture. We also love side tables, plants, firepits, candles 一 the possibilities are endless when it comes to styling your new patio furniture!

To tie everything together and bring warmth to your space, our eco-friendly outdoor rugs are a must-have. Not only do they look stylish, but each rug is also made from 1,188 recycled bottles (yes, seriously!), so they’re incredibly durable and great for the planet.

Styling your new Outer outdoor rug is a breeze thanks to its neutral tones 一 it goes with everything and fits with just about every design style out there.

Take a peek at Outer’s virtual backyard Showrooms to explore your furniture options and see how other Outer lovers creatively styled their patio pieces. Warning: exploring these virtual Showrooms may cause major patio envy!

12) Consider Modular Options

If you’re struggling with the combination of patio furniture to buy or how to set it up in your space, modular options might be the solution.

Our Teak Six-Seat Outdoor U-Shaped Sectional includes one armless loveseat, two sectional chairs, and two armless chairs.

This allows you to set it up in its regular U-shaped configuration at the start of the evening, move the pieces to fit your needs as the evening progresses, and then quickly and easily return the five seats to their original positions when the party’s over.

The flexibility inherent in modular patio furniture also makes other activities possible that might have been out of the question with individual pieces.

For example, a separate loveseat and chairs don’t really allow for reclining. But a modular set, like our Aluminum Seven-Seat Outdoor U Sectional, allows you to combine a loveseat and chair end to end, giving you plenty of space to stretch out for a nap, a relaxing afternoon with a book, or a cozy evening by the fire.

Bring Life Back Outside With Outer

Family enjoying dinner outside on patio furniture
Outer Wicker Outdoor Sofa with Armless Chairs

Choosing the perfect patio furniture for your needs isn’t always easy! You’ll want to make sure you’re considering all aspects, from the size and amount of seating you need right down to the ease of cleaning and protection you’re looking for.

Whether you’re relaxing after a long day of work or entertaining your friends and family on the weekend, Outer is here to help you bring life back outside!

Transform your outdoor area with patio furniture like our 5-Piece Outdoor Sofa and our Outdoor Armchairs, paired with neutral rugs and fun accessories to bring your space to life.