The Ultimate Guide for Choosing Outdoor Furniture

You’ve planned, paved, landscaped, and trimmed your way to a perfect outdoor area. Now it’s time to furnish… and you have a wide range of options in front of you in today’s marketplace. Outdoor furniture has become as complex, stylish, and high-quality as any top-notch indoor furniture. While this gives you some great items to choose from, it can also create a confusing purchasing process. Fortunately, with a few tips you can zero in on what you should be considering when choosing outdoor furniture for you and your outdoor space.

Identify Your Goals

Your first step when choosing outdoor furniture is to determine your goal in setting up your outdoor space. Do you want it to be an enclave, a place to lounge, or are you looking for a place of active engagement? Installing a chaise lounge, for example, instead of a more structured armchair-style seat in your outdoor area can define it as an entirely different space. Start small, considering whether you want things casual or formal. From there, begin weighing the nature of the engagement you want in that space. Visualize your ideal event in the space, imagining yourself as the ideal host or hostess, and identify how you want your guests to participate and engage.

Understanding the Materials Used in Outdoor Furniture

Today’s outdoor furniture leverages a wide range of materials, each offering its own distinct style and benefits. Before you move into selecting an outdoor furniture set, make sure you have a thorough understanding of the materials available to you. The following table lists some of the most popular materials used in outdoor furniture, along with their advantages and disadvantages.




Wrought Iron
  • Detailed work in the metal
  • Substantial and impressive
  • Heavy to move
  • Creates a more formal environment
Cast Aluminum
  • Lighter weight than wrought iron
  • Less substantial or formal
  • Classic outdoor look
  • Modern wicker is longer-lasting than older versions
  • Can feel dated
  • Not as substantial as solid wood
  • Highly weather-resistant
  • Lovely, rich color
  • Ages well
  • Creates a very distinct, dark look
  • Might not work well with light design palettes
  • Weather-resistant
  • Ages well
  • Homeowner can leave unfinished and oil once a year
  • Expensive
  • Resilient, weather-resistant
  • Can mimic wicker and wood
  • Not as substantial as natural options
  • Easy to move and store
Plastic Lumber
  • Mimics wood
  • Easy to maintain
  • Easy to move/stow away for winter
  • Can feel “chintzy”

Consumers looking into outdoor furniture should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of all these materials. Are you willing to spend a good deal of effort maintaining your outdoor furniture or do you want a low-maintenance option? Do you want substance or does it not matter to you that your outdoor furniture might be casual or lightweight? All of this should factor into your choice of material.

Creating Shade and Ambiance

Whether you live in “75 degrees and sunny” or a moodier clime, you are still going to need a bit of shelter. A bare outdoor space is just asking for a rain storm or extra-hot day to come along and ruin your plans. While you’re designing your outdoor space, consider how shade and shelter can play into your furniture decisions. You may need something as simple as a free-standing outdoor umbrella to make your space work year round or you may need to step up to a large-scale solution such as a pergola with a retractable awning. Incorporating a shade structure into your furniture selections can also go a long way toward preserving the life of your outdoor furniture by adding an extra layer of protection against the elements.

Investing in Weatherproof Fabrics
Choosing Outdoor Furniture Weatherproof Fabrics
Prideaux Design

While much of the outdoor furniture available today resembles the complexity and style of indoor pieces, it’s not necessarily wise to use any indoor piece on your outdoor patio. Look for furniture that uses the latest, innovative materials. These waterproof, fade-resistant, and mold-resistant fabrics are essential if you want to create a quality outdoor environment that lasts for seasons to come. Don’t worry about drowning in beige— the best outdoor fabrics come in every color in the rainbow and an array of patterns.

Have you done your due diligence in creating an outdoor space and choosing the right furniture to make your backyard area pop? Chime in below and let us know some of your own helpful tips for choosing outdoor furniture.