Outdoor Furniture: The Complete Guide


Your complete guide to outdoor furniture

The outdoor living and dining season may have passed, but will return soon enough. Even with the just arriving now could be the perfect time to spruce up your outdoor space and add some life to your deck or patio. And what better to improve your area then adding some high-quality outdoor furniture!


We’ve put together some handy tips inside this guide to help you pick the ideal furniture for your decking area. This guide will include information on almost all kinds of outdoor furniture, as well as the pros and cons of the materials this furniture can be made out of. Happy shopping!

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How to determine the proper dining table size

While you may already know the dimensions of the furniture you are replacing, it is a good idea to obtain a pad of graphing paper and get to work outlining your deck to scale. Doing so will help you to avoid your deck too crowded with excessive furniture.

  • Begin by drawing your deck to scale. (1 inch equals 1 foot, example).
  • Indicate on the drawing the location of stairs and doorways.
  • Create cut outs of your “furniture” using the graph paper. (Tip: The best place to look is online for the furniture you want to use, then simply recreate the dimensions on your graph paper.)
  • Overcrowding can quickly lead to your deck feel cramped and uninviting.  Make sure to include the necessary space for guests to push back their chairs and walk around as they please.
  • Remember to include your grilling area!
  • Are you the type person who likes to have outdoor parties and large gatherings? Consider buying furniture that you can fold up and easily store when not in use!
  • A deck box can protect cushions, grill items, or outdoor accessories while also making efficient use of the space you have. Certainly this is a worthy .


Which deck furniture material is best for your space?

Here is our rundown of the pros and cons of different furniture frame materials.

Wood·       Solid and sturdy

·       Doesn’t get overly hot or cold

·       Available in teak, cedar, pine, and other species

·       Teak is extremely long lasting with proper care

·       Hardwoods more resistant to weather

·       Will fade in the sun

·       May require preservatives to prevent cracking, decay

·       Some species need oils to preserve natural color

·       Some species prone to splintering

·       Wooden tables need protection against moisture rings and heat marks

Plastic·       Lightweight, easy to move

·       Chairs usually easy to stack

·       Resists moisture, rotting, cracking

·       Salt water not a threat

·       Resists fading

·       May contain recycled content

·       Can blow around easily in strong winds

·       Inexpensive pieces may look cheap or flimsy

Cast Aluminum·       Resembles wrought iron yet easier to move and maintain

·       Stays cooler than wrought iron

·       Low maintenance (annual soap and water cleaning)

·       Won’t corrode, rust, or fade

·       Higher-end sets can be costly

·       Lower-priced sets might not be quite as durable (store inside during the winter)

Rattan and wicker·       Synthetic versions are fairly weather-resistant

·       Synthetic versions available in wide range of colors

·       Synthetic versions can be washed with soap and water and left to dry

·       High-end synthetics are usually UV-resistant; won’t fade or crack

·       Natural fibers are not as hardy as synthetics
Wrought iron·       Elegant and timeless

·       Newer pieces usually powder-coated to resist rust and chipping

·       Won’t blow around in strong winds

·       Difficult to move

·       Can get very hot in the sun

·       Chairs can be uncomfortable without cushions

·       Older pieces can rust and chip

·       Annual refinishing recommended for older sets


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Choosing the perfect outdoor dining set

What’s the best place to shop for outdoor furniture?  With so many options to choose from it’s possible to buy your furniture at big box retail stores, high-end furniture retailers, or even online. The only limitation is your budget! Here are some further tips from ConsumerReport.org to help you along the way.

  • Be certain to pick chairs and a table with a proper height. A table that is too high or chairs that are too low can make you and your guest uncomfortable.
  • Examine the table you have purchased closely. Is it sturdy and made of high quality materials or does it feel shoddy? Are there exposed screws, and if so are they stainless steel?
  • Is the finish of your furniture smooth? Outdoor furniture should be free of potentially dangerous sharp edges.
  • Will the armrests of your chairs get in the way of the table?
  • What about the seats? Is the angle of the seat unpleasant or can you recline in your chair? Your guests will probably not want to eat their meals perched forward in their chairs, no matter how riveting the discussion might be!
  • Don’t forget cushions! Seat cushions should provide plenty of padding and be durable enough for the outdoors and any inclement weather.

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Sunny days on your deck can be amazing…until sitting beneath a blazing sun threatens to ruin your experience. The quick fix for this problem, of course, is an umbrella.

  • Provided that your new table will hold an umbrella you will need to select a stand or a base. A heavy stand will hold the umbrella snugly and prevent it from being blown over during periods of strong wings.
  • Wooden umbrellas are usually pulley operated and it may make it difficult to angle them to block the sun.
  • In order to give your umbrella a long life, ensure that it is make of a durable material that will withstand UV rays and rain.
  • Make sure that your umbrella is at least four to five feet larger than the area you wish to provide with shade.
  • Free-standing umbrellas are another option, but as is the case with a table mounted umbrella, make sure that it overs the durability and protection that you need.

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Know your furniture options … and your decking options

When making any purchase a little research can go a long way to make sure that you get the most for your dollar! Hopefully this handy guide will be the starting point you were looking for.

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