8 Tips for Buying Patio Furniture That Suits Your Outdoor Space

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

Great patio furniture brings comfort and function to your outdoor spaces. A basic stone patio can be transformed into an alfresco dining destination with a spacious table and comfortable patio seating. 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. Small spaces such as balconies and pocket gardens will beckon you outside when complemented with the right patio furniture. Use the following tips to choose the best outdoor furniture for your patio. Thoughtful planning will help make your backyard your new favorite spot for lounging, dining, and entertaining.

brick patio various colored throw pillows
Edmund Barr

1. Make a List of Patio Furniture Needs

Begin by thinking about how you'd like your outdoor space to function. For example, 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 with comfy and welcoming patio seating tucked into your outdoor room?

Make a list of the activities you'd like to do in the space and use it as a guide to determine what type of patio furniture is necessary. For example, if the primary function of your 12x16-foot patio is to host casual evening cocktails, there's 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
Dustin Peck

2. Try Patio Seating Before You Buy

When shopping for patio chairs and sofas, take a seat before buying. 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. Look for pieces with backs and plush cushions on the seats or cozy up metal and wood furniture with fluffy pillows for the utmost comfort. Make sure all fabrics are weather-resistant to prevent color-fading or mildew growth.

tan patio furniture outdoors
Brian Gomsak

3. Go for Easy-Care Outdoor Furniture

Reserve the bulk of your outside hours to enjoy your living space instead of maintaining the furniture. Search for easy-care patio furniture to minimize the need for upkeep. Most metal, teak, cedar, and all-weather wicker pieces can stand up to 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
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's 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
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, your home's exterior, or your other outdoor decor. A DIY paint job can quickly perk up patio furniture with any hue if the right color isn't available. Reserve bolder tones 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
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'll 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 comfortable patio seating or a durable dining table. You can save money on smaller accessories such as pillows and accent tables.

Outdoor seating with wicker chairs, dog
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 purchasing additional furniture and leave more room for your favorite outdoor activities. For example, an ottoman or garden stool can double as extra patio 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.

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