Outdoor Furniture

By on November 9, 2013

Outdoor furniture expands your living space by providing another area to relax or entertain guests. The feel of the sun and wind, along with the sounds of nature, are among the pleasures of being outside. Creating a seating area on the patio or in the yard also can make a property more attractive.

Kinds of Outdoor Furniture

Just about any type of furniture found inside a home is also manufactured for outdoor use. Items intended for patios or yards is made of weather-resistant materials.

Chairs on Deck are typical outdoor furniture

Chairs on Deck (Photo credit: herzogbr)

The first piece of furniture to appear outside most homes is a chair. A comfortable place to sit is the first priority in establishing an outdoor living space. There are simple folding chairs, seats designed for dining or lounging, rocking chairs, gliders, Adirondack chairs, bar stools, captain’s and director’s chairs, and many others. If you really want to kick back and relax, consider a chaise lounge, hammock or couch.

A patio set typically consists of several chairs and a large table. There are myriad shapes and sizes of tables, including picnic, dining, coffee, and side (or end) tables. The set is often shaded by a large umbrella with a pole that fits into a metal tube in the middle of the table. Canopies, awnings and gazebos are alternate methods of providing shade.

Other kinds of outdoor furniture include porch swings, benches and foot stools.

Furniture Construction Materials

The dizzying array of outdoor furniture on the market features numerous styles, designs, shapes and sizes. Nearly all outside chairs, tables and other items are made of wood, metal, plastic or wicker. In some cases, like tabletops, glass is used.

Wooden furniture is popular because it blends in with trees and other landscaping. It looks like it belongs in a natural setting. Chairs and tables built with wood are sturdy, as well as attractive. They can be quite heavy to move, and a weather-resistant finish is often required to preserve the surface. Cedar and pine are among the most widely used types of wood. More expensive varieties include teak and mahogany. You also can make furniture out of branches and other rough wood.

The basic types of metal furniture are wrought iron and aluminum. Iron chairs and tables last a long time and do not blow away in the wind. They frequently feature ornate designs, making iron an attractive choice. You will want cushions for the seats, and perhaps for the backs of the chairs. Applying a finish will help prevent rust. The least expensive metal chairs are those with hollow-tube aluminum frames. The seats and backs consist of plastic or fiber materials. These chairs are lightweight and portable, and usually can be stacked in storage. Cast aluminum chairs provide much more stability. The old-fashioned molded, all-metal rocking chairs are still available, as well.

Plastic Chairs in Curacautin, Chile

Plastic Chairs in Curacautin, Chile (Photo credit: Watergeus)

Plastic furniture may be purchased for a few dollars. It breaks easily, does not support much weight and topples in the wind. Some types are better than others, but no plastic chairs or tables can be expected to last more than a few years. Because of their light weight, they are easy to transport. That makes them popular with campers.

The fourth type of material is wicker, woven fiber from cane, bamboo or other vegetation. All-weather varieties are made of synthetic fibers. The frame, as well as the seat and back, of a chair may be made of wicker. The material is often painted, with a weather-resistant finish added.

Choosing Outdoor Furniture

Deciding which outdoor furniture to buy entails several considerations. Your budget plays a major role, due to the wide range of prices. The type of construction material is the main factor determining the cost. You also want to think about the styles and design that you find pleasing. When shopping for chairs at a store, sit in them to find out if they fit your body.

How do you spend your time outside? You may like to just sit, while reading or simply watching the world pass by. In that case, all you need is a comfortable chair or hammock. You might want to consider a small side table and shade umbrella, as well. Add a larger table and dining chairs if you plan to have picnics or serve food cooked on an outside grill. Estimate the largest number of guests you are likely to have at any given time, to know how much seating you need.


Once you have determined your needs and considered your budget, it is time to go shopping. Find a chair that fits you, as well as your pocketbook. Decide what types of tables and other outdoor furniture you are likely to use. Porches and patios are great places to set up seating areas. You also may want to establish a daytime living space beneath a shade tree or in a location affording a nice view.

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