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Choosing Your Outdoor Furniture

Choosing Your Outdoor Furniture

by Jacob Benowitz, Home Product Blogger for The House Designers®

The type of furniture you choose for your patio, deck or kitchen will set the tone for your outdoor living space so it only makes sense that the furniture you choose to decorate your outdoor room is beautiful, comfortable and functional.

Outdoor furniture can turn your deck, porch, patio or backyard into a relaxing retreat and pleasant gathering place. Today's selection of outdoor dining sets, lounge chairs, gliders, benches, hammocks and shelving units are available in many styles and sizes to fit any design and budget.

You can make the most of your outdoor living space with sturdy, comfortable and attractive deck furniture. Your options in furniture vary widely in styles and materials, but your budget is the first place to start. You'll find everything from stackable resin chairs for under $10 to intricate wrought iron dining sets that can cost thousands of dollars.

The first thing to consider is what kind of furniture you need to fit your space and needs. For example, if you have a large deck, patio or porch, a full-sized dining table with four to six chairs will give you the needed space for family and friends to gather and eat.

After you decide what pieces of furniture you absolutely must have, then you need to measure out the area you are furnishing to be sure the pieces you choose fit the space. A good rule of thumb is to leave one foot of space between pieces to avoid a crowded look and two feet of space between pieces where traffic will flow.

Outdoor furniture is generally made from metal, wicker, wood or plastic. Each type of patio furniture has its advantages and drawbacks, which is why you need to consider your environment, budget and personal style when selecting your furniture.

Wrought iron is one of the most expensive types of patio furniture. It is extremely heavy and durable, and it requires minimal care to keep it looking its best. The only drawback is that wrought iron furniture needs to be covered or stored indoors during the winter to keep it from rusting. Other options for metal are cast iron and aluminum.

One of the more popular, yet pricey materials for outdoor furniture is teak. This wood is practically impervious to the effects of snow, ice, rain, sun, heat, cold and humidity. No matter how harsh your winters or stifling your summers, you'll find that teak won't rot, warp, shrink or swell like other woods. Oak and cedar furniture is a bit less expensive, but you'll need to clean and treat it with wood sealant on a regular basis to keep it looking good. Wooden furniture needs to be stored indoors or covered during extended periods of rain, snow and cold.

Other materials to choose from are wicker, woven or plastic. These options are more affordable and readily available, but not as durable. Since buying furniture can be an investment, be sure to look at the manufacturer's warranty, particularly when it comes to wood and metal.

Design Tip
Where you live plays an important part in the kind of outdoor furniture you buy for your new home. If you live in a warmer climate where patio furniture will be used all year round, you may be concerned about wind. This is where heavy patio furniture made from wrought iron, cast iron or teak is a good idea. It also won't fade from exposure to constant sunlight, but may rust in areas where it frequently rains. If you live in an area that experiences "true" winters, you'll need to bring your furniture indoors for the season. This is not just for safety, but to keep your furniture in good condition. Before purchasing your furniture be sure that you have a place to store it or consider pieces that can easily be taken apart and reassembled.