Make the patio your new favorite hangout with our essential advice for outdoor furniture shopping.

By Jessica Bennett
Updated July 08, 2020

Great patio furniture brings comfort and function to your outdoor spaces. With a spacious table and comfortable chairs, a basic stone patio can be transformed into an alfresco dining destination. Outfit a porch with a wicker sofa and classic rocking chair, both topped with plush cushions, and it can quickly become a second family room during the warm weather months. When complemented with the right patio furniture, even small spaces such as balconies and pocket gardens will beckon you outside. Use the following tips to choose the best patio furniture for your space. Thoughtful planning will help make your backyard your new favorite spot for lounging, dining, and entertaining.

brick patio various colored throw pillows
Credit: Edmund Barr Photographer

1. Make a List of Patio Furniture Needs

Begin by thinking about how you would like your outdoor space to function. Do you want it to serve as a dining area on warm summer nights? Do you plan to host your next dinner party or your child's birthday party in the space? Or do you envision a peaceful reading nook tucked into your outdoor room?

Make a list of the activities you would like to do in the space and use it as a guide to determine what type of patio furniture is necessary. If the primary function of your 12x16-foot patio is to host casual evening cocktails, for example, there is no need for a dining table. Instead, opt for ample comfortable seating, several side tables, and a fire pit.

deck with woven patio furniture and gray and yellow cushions
Credit: Dustin Peck

2. Try Outdoor Seating Before You Buy

When shopping for patio chairs and sofas, be sure to take a seat before you buy it. Patio furniture will likely be used regularly, especially during the warmer months, so it's essential that the seating is comfortable. You and your guests will be less likely to enjoy your patio if it's outfitted with uninviting furniture. For the utmost comfort, look for pieces with plush cushions on the seats and backs, or cozy up metal and wood furniture with fluffy pillows. Make sure all fabrics are weather-resistant to prevent color-fading or mildew growth.

tan patio furniture outdoors
Credit: Brian Gomsak

3. Go for Easy-Care Outdoor Furniture

Reserve the bulk of your outside hours for enjoying your living space as opposed to maintaining the furniture. Search for easy-care patio furniture to minimize the need for upkeep. Most metal, teak, cedar, and all-weather wicker pieces are unfazed by whatever nature throws their way. With a bit of regular cleaning, furniture made using these forgiving materials will look wonderful for years. You can also accessorize patio furniture with outdoor cushions and pillows with removable covers that can be easily tossed in the washing machine.

patio furniture and green cushions on deck beneath arbor
Credit: Kritsada Panichgul

4. Consider Storage for Your Patio Furniture

Add years to the life of your patio furniture by storing it in a protected location during the off-season. A garage, basement, or shed will shield pieces from the elements to prevent damage or additional wear. Even the toughest patio furniture, such as teak chairs or a wrought-iron settee, will last longer if it is placed in storage when not in use. If your storage space is limited, look for patio furniture that folds or can be easily taken apart for compact storage. Stackable chairs can also help maximize storage space when patio season ends.

Outdoor seating with stone patio and red seating
Credit: Edward Gohlich

5. Match Colors to Your Outdoor Decor

When purchasing patio furniture, you're not limited to neutral colors or the natural tones of wood. Wicker, wood, and metal pieces now come in a wide variety of colorful finishes. Look for furnishings that play up colors found in your landscaping, on your home's exterior, or in your other outdoor decor. If you can't find the right color in the store, a DIY paint job can quickly perk up patio furniture with any hue you'd like. For the most long-lasting color, reserve bolder hues for cushions and accent pieces. These items will likely be used less often, resulting in less wear, and are less expensive to replace.

boho outdoor seating with bright pops of color
Credit: Victoria Pearson

6. Invest in Quality Patio Furniture

The old adage "you get what you pay for" is generally true for patio furniture. Plastic resin chairs or side tables, for example, might look great on the shelf and will keep their good looks for a year or two out in the sun, but in time they will become brittle and lose their vibrant coloring. The same is true for some wood products and wicker pieces. Shop with care, checking consumer reports and reviews, before making a big purchase. If you're sticking to a budget, plan to splurge on items that will be used most often, such as a comfortable patio chair or a durable dining table. You can save on smaller accessories such as pillows and accent tables.

Outdoor seating with wicker chairs, dog
Credit: David A Land

7. Add Outdoor Rugs for Color and Comfort

Ground patio furniture by placing it on an all-weather rug. Textile advancements in recent years have brought many quick-drying outdoor rugs to the market. Soft underfoot and rich in texture, an outdoor rug will lend the comforts of indoors to your patio or deck. Choose a color and pattern that coordinates with your other furniture and decor to tie your outdoor space together. Make sure it's rated for outdoor use before buying.

patio white fencing with bench

8. Search for Dual-Purpose Patio Furniture

Look for hardworking furniture to make the most of your space and budget. Pieces that serve multiple purposes can eliminate the need to purchase additional furniture and leave more room for your favorite outdoor activities. For example, an ottoman or garden stool can double as extra seating for guests. A simple bench can stand alone or cozy up to an alfresco dining table. Choose patio furniture with function in mind to take full advantage of frequently used outdoor spaces.

Comments (3)

February 23, 2021
Thanks for sharing some of these tips about patio furniture. I agree about most of these things especially about choosing a cushion with water-resistant features as well as choosing easy-care outdoor furniture. These are the things that I personally considered when I bought my patio furniture from Wicker Park, their cushions come with Sunbrella fabric which is what I think won me over as Sunbrella fabric is highly fade and water-resistant which prevents the growth of mold and mildew making it really a long-lasting material option. It's also easy to care for as it can be cleaned with bleach without damaging the color and the fabric overall. Here's where you can find out more about them and the other patio furniture and outdoor decors that they have for sale.
December 29, 2018
These tips were really useful for me when I was purchasing patio furniture.
October 16, 2018
Thank you for sharing your wonderful brilliant ideas. It is essential for making your patio comfortable and inviting. We need not only stylish furniture but also a furniture that will provide the comfort whilst chatting under the star-lit summer night or even in daylight. If ever you're Looking for which furniture is right for your outdoor living space, here are some best outdoor living room ideas you can try out.