What to Consider When Buying Outdoor Furniture

When it comes to buying outdoor furniture for your home, there are several factors to consider. In this post, I’m sharing all you need to know!

If you live in a tropical area like mine, where harsh conditions can take a toll on your furniture, it’s even more important to choose the right products that can withstand the elements.

Although I’m not an expert, I’ve got years’ worth of experience on this topic and today I’m sharing some of my advice.

For product recommendations on outdoor furniture, be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post!

I’ve gathered my favorite products and some extra tips to help you make the best decision about your outdoor space.

guide to outdoor furniture shopping
Click to shop these French Bistro Chairs

Selecting the best outdoor furniture for your space is a matter of research and educating yourself. Knowing how materials compare in terms of durability is important if you want it to last in the long run.

Of course, we also have to consider how it looks and looks for options at price points you can afford!

Outdoor furniture comes in many materials, each with its pros and cons. For example, faux wicker is a popular choice because of its durability and weather resistance. Teak is another popular option that is known for its natural beauty and resistance to decay. Whatever material you choose, you need to make sure it fits the needs of your outdoor space and climate.

Just like with indoor spaces, it’s important to find the right balance of functionality and measurements when designing your outdoor space. It’s a good idea to measure out your space and make a sketch before purchasing your pieces!

Now that we’ve gone over some of the more general topics, let’s dive into the nitty gritty, shall we? Read on!

What to Consider When Buying Outdoor Furniture

  • Determine Your Outdoor Space’s Shape and Size
  • Climate & Placement: Factors to Consider
  • Buying Outdoor Furniture: Function And Comfort
  • Personal Design Aesthetics: Buy What You Love
  • Buying Patio Furniture: Budget Considerations
  • Proper Cleaning and Storage of Outdoor Furniture

Determine Your Outdoor Space’s Shape and Size

Measuring your outdoor space is crucial when buying furniture. By planning your furniture placement, you can create a functional and beautiful outdoor space that lasts.

Just like in your home, you’ll want to measure your outside “rooms” to determine the furniture pieces and sizes you need and where to place them.

How is your outdoor area shaped? Do you have a large deck, or a narrow covered patio, a grassy area only?

french style dining outdoors

The shape should help you determine your needs when buying outdoor furniture. Be sure to take into account the walking space around your furniture.

Side note: Our patio is quite narrow from the house to the pool…measuring 9′. With an average rectangular table and chairs and people seated, that measures about 6′. Doing the math, it leaves only a foot and a half walking space, and yes, a couple of times that resulted in a fall into the pool! No one got hurt, but we quickly learned that the table needed to be tucked into a corner area of the covered patio that has a bit more room.

Climate & Placement: Factors to Consider

Now that you have your measurements and an idea of the sizes of furniture you need, it’s important to consider the placement of your outdoor furniture. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to make the process easier:

  • Is your patio or outdoor space exposed to the elements, or do you have any overhead protection?
  • Do you have a solid hard surface, or will you place your furniture on grass or gravel?

Choosing furniture that suits your environment is crucial for its longevity. For instance, wood furniture does not do well when sitting on the grass and can rot from moisture on the ground. Similarly, open areas with the wet ground can also cause some metals to corrode.

Buying Outdoor Furniture: Function And Comfort

We use our patios to entertain and to relax! Whether looking at dining sets or lounge furniture, you’ll want to opt for the most comfortable option you can find. Make it a top priority!

Look for furniture with cushions if possible and use good quality indoor/outdoor fabric like Sunbrella that is fade and mildew resistant.

Personal Design Aesthetics: Buy What You Love

Create a flow from the indoors out with a similar aesthetic, you don’t need matchy-matchy…Mixing and matching is a great way to decorate! As long as you have a theme with either color, shape, or similar styles, it can look amazing.

Buying Patio Furniture: Budget Considerations

When buying outdoor furniture, your budget should always help you to determine what you can buy.

Since outdoor furniture needs to be durable, buy the best that you can afford. Shop off-season if you want the best finds and check out yard sales, thrift shops, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.

Proper Cleaning and Storage of Outdoor Furniture

To keep your outdoor furniture in good condition, it’s important to clean it regularly and store it properly during the off-season or rainy months. Store cushions in a plastic shed or box, and use cleaners that are designed specifically for outdoor furniture to avoid damage from harsh chemicals. By taking these simple steps, you can extend the life of your outdoor furniture and enjoy it for years to come.

Buying Outdoor Furniture Guide – Types Of Materials

Wrought Iron

Wrought iron has an upscale look and a timeless appeal. My own set of patio furniture is wrought iron and from Restoration Hardware. It’s about 20 years old and is still in great shape!

We place the cushions in a patio box during our wet summer months and have only had to replace them all once. Wrought iron is heavy, so it’s ideal for a windy area and it’s powder coated to resist rust. We have another set of vintage wrought iron that has sat on our pea gravel patios over the years and does have some rust from the moist climate. I don’t mind the light rust on this set and feel that it adds to the vintage charm.

If you do mind rust and live where it rains or snows, it’s best to keep wrought iron covered in your harsh season!

Cast Aluminum

Buying outdoor furniture can be a daunting task, especially if you want something that will stand the test of time. That’s why I recommend opting for cast aluminum! Cast aluminum furniture offers a lot of benefits, like durability, versatility, and low-maintenance upkeep. It also has a lovely look that won’t rust or corrode and it’s lightweight.

Years ago, I discovered a set of white stacking tables at a yard sale that I fell in love with. The particular set I own dates back to the 60s and, despite its chipped and faded powder-coated finish, I love the vintage patina it has acquired over the years.


The Benefits of Steel Outdoor Furniture

If you’re looking for durable and long-lasting outdoor furniture, consider steel!

It’s a heavy material that won’t get knocked around in a storm, making it ideal for outdoor use. Steel outdoor furniture sets have this charming, upscale, and timeless look that we often see in French bistros. While it may be more expensive than other materials, it’s a worthwhile investment that will last for years to come.

Buying Outdoor Furniture: Wood Outdoor Ideas


Teak is a tropical hardwood and is generally sustainably grown. It has great durability and can last outdoors in the elements for decades.

When buying outdoor furniture that is made of wood, I wouldn’t choose anything other than teak!

Teak has the benefit of producing its own oils which, if left untreated, will make your furniture piece gain a silvery gray weathered patina over time.

If you prefer for teak to keep its sheen, you’ll have to treat it yearly with teak oil.

The surface of the teak is very strong and it won’t show dings or dents. Another great alternative is Acacia Wood, but it won’t last as long as Teak.

Synthetic Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor Synthetic Rattan

Outdoor or all-weather rattan is today’s solution to wicker and is lightweight and sophisticated. All-weather rattan sets usually have cushions and are comfortable and beautifully attractive. When buying outdoor patio furniture, outdoor synthetic rattan is low maintenance and easy to keep clean. Since it’s synthetic, it resists mildew, and you can leave it out year-round. A bonus is that it comes in all price points and you are sure to find something to suit your needs and tastes.


When buying outdoor patio furniture, you might not think of concrete. Most of the time, concrete patio furniture is limited to benches, fountains, and statues. Here in South Florida, though, concrete table sets are popular for placing out in the grassy areas of our gardens themselves. The inherent nature of concrete makes it able to withstand the elements well and it’s extremely heavy so it won’t budge (in even a hurricane!) 

Think of all the concrete architectural elements that are hundreds of years old in European gardens! It’s easy to keep clean with just some yearly bleach and a hosing down.

Buying Outdoor Furniture: What Materials To Avoid

There’re some materials you should avoid when buying outdoor furniture for your patio.

White PVC usually looks yellow over time and doesn’t age well. Authentic wicker is another material you should keep away from. Unfortunately, it deteriorates quickly in harsh weather.

If you have any favorite wicker pieces, it’s best to keep them under a covered portion of your patio or indoors to protect them from the elements.

What is the first thing you should consider when selecting patio furniture?

To create a charming and practical outdoor living area, it’s important to carefully select patio furniture that fits your outdoor space. The first step is to measure your space and decide on the best arrangement for your furniture, ensuring that the pieces you choose fit well and help you craft a space that’s enjoyable and functional.

What type of patio furniture is the most weather resistant?

If you want outdoor furniture that can handle harsh conditions, then metal patio furniture is the way to go! Wrought iron, cast aluminum, and steel furniture pieces are all super durable, rust-resistant, and can withstand even the harshest of outdoor elements. But don’t forget, even these tough materials need a little TLC to stay in tip-top shape. So, be sure to clean and store your furniture properly during the off-season to get the most out of your investment.


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  1. Your outdoor areas are so beautiful Janet!…the epitome of Florida outdoor living…I have cast aluminum outdoor furniture and with the pieces being in the elements of the four seasons including snow, for 14 years, I love how it has stood the test of time…but now it is time to re-paint them…so from your inspiration photos, I have decided to go lighter than stay with the dark colors….and I LOVE your iron and glass table in your living room..gorgeous! Have a great day Janet!

    1. Hi Shirley! You know how it is to be outdoors here and the season will sadly end soon. Curious to see your furniture once you have the set repainted. Happy weekend my friend!

  2. Jacquie Ellsmere says:

    Just wondering how your gorgeous French bistro set is holding up, uncovered. I am about to place an order. Love all that you do! and your resource lists!

    1. Hi Jacquie…the bistro chairs I don’t leave out uncovered all the time, since we have so much heat and humidity. I keep them in a covered area, but outside…and they are just like new! Hope this helps…Janet

  3. You have lovely outdoor furniture. We have teak and cast aluminum and both have held up well. We also have lounge chairs in synthetic wicker and they haven’t fared quite so well — mostly because the dogs and other critters like to nibble them! I’m curious to know what you store your cushions in. I’ve seen large plastic/resin ones but they’re frankly unattractive.

    1. Thank you Sandra, lots of this and that collected over the years! We do have a large dark brown resin storage box that we store cushions in. It’s on the side of the house, so no one really sees it.

  4. Rebecca Gardner says:

    I’m glad you explained that wrought iron is good for windy areas due to its weight and resistance to the elements. My husband and I want to have a patio cover installed so we can start comfortably enjoying the outdoor space in our backyard before the summer ends. Thanks for teaching me what to keep in mind when we shop for furniture for the patio!

  5. Michelle Catapang says:

    Well said! This article is well-written and will help a lot of readers.