Outdoor Chairs, Sofas, Sectionals, and Tables: The Ultimate Buying Guide

Patio furniture, particularly seating and dining equipment, is an essential component of any garden. This furniture will not only be a focal point of your backyard and heavily used by you and your guests, but it will also be one of the most expensive items you will purchase for your backyard. As a result, it’s critical to properly prepare and investigate these items in order to make the best decisions for your garden.

Because you may not be aware with all of the features and varieties of outdoor furniture, it can be difficult to tell if you are choosing the correct piece of furniture for your backyard. Fortunately, this article covers all of the major choices you’ll encounter when shopping for outdoor furniture.

So, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about buying your next outdoor chair, sofa, sectional, or table!

Where should my outdoor seats, sofas, sectionals, and tables be placed?

Outdoor seats and tables can be placed almost anywhere in your backyard. Whether you plan to place the furniture under a patio or in broad sunshine, several models are made to withstand the conditions outside.

Knowing what you want to achieve with your backyard area is crucial when deciding where to install outdoor seats and tables. Do you want to be able to hold large parties or have a quiet spot where you can relax? You can have numerous goals, and different sorts of seating solutions can help you achieve one or more of them. We’ve put together a full guide on how to plan your backyard based on your goals if you haven’t used it yet.

We also cover finding “useful” portions of your backyard or outdoor space in our Backyard Planning Guide. The many regions in your backyard where you want to undertake various activities that match with your goals are known as functional areas. Based on your intended activities for those areas, you should determine your seating and table expectations inside each functional space.

Size: How much outside seats (or table) will I require?

You must first determine how much physical space you have for the furniture before purchasing it. Simply use a tape measure to measure the circumference of each functional space you locate in your backyard where you require chairs or a table.

The next step is to estimate how many individuals will use each functional area. As a general guideline, each person need around 24 inches of seating space. In most seating configurations, each individual will also require roughly 24-36 inches of length. Use these measurements to estimate how much seating could fit in each functional area. You should be able to calculate how many people each area can seat using these data.

Last but not least, determine what size furniture is appropriate for the space. Even if you can physically put a 7ft x 4ft table on a 10ft x 10ft patio, the table will take up a significant chunk of the space. As a result, make sure your furniture is scaled adequately for your room.

What are the many types of outdoor sitting and dining options?

  • Outdoor chairs come in a variety of styles, including lounge chairs, fixed or swivel chairs, dining chairs, rocking chairs, folding chairs, stackable chairs, and more. The best type for you is determined by your objectives and planned activities for each functional area. Individual chairs can be used in large or small spaces.
  • Loveseats and Sofas: Loveseats and Sofas offer a more spacious seating choice that can accommodate 2-4 persons. These are often cushioned and made with comfort in mind. To establish which size sofa is suitable for you, you must first evaluate the size of your space.
  • Benches: Benches, like loveseats and sofas, offer more seating space than chairs. Unlike loveseats and sofas, however, these are not often created with comfort in mind, since you can discover models without cushions or backs.
  • Sectionals and sectional sets are larger seating alternatives that can accommodate 3 to 7 people (or more depending on the set). This sectional is recognized for its L-shaped design and may offer some versatility in terms of how it can be organized. Additional components, like as ottomans, tables, and chairs, may be included in sectional sets.
  • Conversation and Bistro Sets: These are smaller sets of furniture that can be used in the backyard. There are usually two chairs and a tiny table in them. These sets are perfect for tiny places in your backyard that require chairs and a table.
  • Dining Set: This piece of furniture is designed to accommodate large groups of people in your outside space. These sets will normally include a medium to big table and chairs that can accommodate four or more people (amount of chairs will vary depending on the size of the set). These sets may include an umbrella that can be put in the centre of the table in some situations. A dining set will usually necessitate a wide backyard area.

Climate Factors: How will the weather and climate effect my furniture?

Everything you buy for your backyard should be analyzed in light of the climate; some materials will work better in certain climates than others. These material advantages can assist you in making outdoor furniture decisions.

Moisture and Rain

If these materials are not properly maintained, rain will cause wood to decay and metals to corrode. Look for product features that include natural water resistance or weather-resistant treatments like’sealing’ for woods and ‘powder coating’ for metals if you wish to buy wood-based things.

Place your furniture under a covered location if feasible to help protect it from direct rain. This will extend the life of your furniture. If necessary, consider purchasing a cover for your furniture.

Proximity to bodies of water / Humidity

Metal materials will corrode more quickly in humid regions in close proximity to bodies of water. This is especially true if you live near seawater; metal furniture will degrade far faster than you might anticipate. Consider buying rust-resistant metals, plastic, or wood.

Snow/Ice

As in rainy climes, any melting snow and ice can cause wood to decay and metal to corrode. Furthermore, if wood is not properly sealed, moisture in the wood can freeze, causing cracks in the furniture.

If you reside in a harsh winter climate, make sure to preserve and protect your furniture over the winter months, especially if it won’t be used for long periods of time.

Heat, direct sunlight, and dry weather

While heat and direct sunshine are unlikely to harm a metal substance, metal absorbs heat, so any furniture made of these materials will likely feel warm to the touch. Plastic materials will also be destroyed by UV exposure, despite the fact that they do not absorb heat like metal materials. If not properly maintained, this material may crack over time in dry areas.

In addition, unless the material is marked as fade resistant, darker color materials will fade substantially faster than lighter color materials in direct sunlight.

Strong Winds

You may need to consider stronger furniture if you reside in an area with severe winds or storms that can bring high winds. Aluminum, for example, is a wonderful material for protecting against rain and moisture, but it is lighter than other metals. If you don’t want to use heavier materials, make sure you have a plan in place to secure or store lighter goods (such as pillows) in case of heavy winds.

General advice: Read our in-depth outdoor material buying guide, which describes how different materials are likely to perform in light of various conditions such as those listed above. Examine the product details for each piece of furniture to see how it has been treated to make it more resistant to the elements.

What are my options for frame materials for my outdoor chairs and table?

Metal, wood, and synthetic resins and plastics are all common materials for chair and table frames. We recommend that you read our in-depth outdoor material guide, which describes the different alternatives and benefits of each material type. This handbook is a fantastic resource for determining what is appropriate for your backyard.

Aluminum, Steel, and Iron are the most common metals, with Aluminum and Stainless Steel being the most popular and widely available design possibilities. If you’re looking for a metal choice, powder coated metals will outperform non-powder coated metals when it comes to corrosion resistance.

There are many various wood varieties to choose from, including Teak, Eucalyptus, Mahogany, Shorea, and others. Some variations are more weather-resistant and durable than others, so it’s important to look over the details, which we’ve outlined in our entire outdoor material guide.

There are several common forms of synthetic resins and plastics, including Polyethylene, High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), and Recycled Plastics, with HDPE and Recycled Plastics being extremely durable and weather-resistant.

The material that is best for you will be determined by your preferred ‘look’ and design, your budget, the material’s compatibility for your backyard environment, and your furniture care requirements. As you make your decision, keep these points in mind.

Use our purchasing guide as a go-to reference in your outdoor furniture search if you’re searching for a collection of our general suggestions for materials and other qualities of outdoor furniture.

Cushions and Fabric: Should I have cushioned seating, and what fabric should I use?

There will be two types of outdoor seating available: 1) without cushions, or 2) with cushions. The best option for you, like the frame material, is determined by the ‘look’ and design you like, your budget, your backyard climate, and your furniture care requirements. To learn more about the properties of fabric and cushion material, check out our entire outdoor material guide, and utilize our purchasing guide, which includes our recommendations for various outdoor materials and features, as your go-to shopping resource.

Cushionless

In other circumstances, using the furniture without cushions may be perfectly fine and comfortable. Metal, wood, synthetic resin, and plastic frames are all available with this choice. In the end, the decision is yours to make. If at all possible, test out the cushionless furniture before you buy it to make sure you like the way it feels.

Cushioned

There are various aspects to consider while choosing cushion options, but the fabric kinds and cushion material are the two most important. Understanding the longevity and weather resistance of the various options should be a major factor in your final decision.

Types of Fabric

  • Sunbrella is a prominent brand of solution-dyed acrylic fabric. Fade-resistant, waterproof, and mold and mildew resistant, this is often the most expensive option.
  • Olefin is a fade-resistant, waterproof, mold-resistant, and mildew-resistant alternative. Although this material shares many of the same qualities as solution-dyed acrylic, it is less expensive.
  • Vinyl is a low-cost material that gets quite heated in the heat and does not absorb water well.
  • Cotton Canvas & Duck Cloth: While this is a popular choice, it is not waterproof and will require additional upkeep.
  • Textilene is a PVC-coated polyester fiber that is noted for its durability and waterproof properties. These, on the other hand, are more prone to fading over time.

Material of the Cushion

The following is a list of the most common forms of fill material. It is recommended that you acquire a mildew-resistant filler when completing your purchase.

  • Foam: Different forms of foam are used to fill cushions, and they come in a variety of densities. Polyurethane Foam is a common type of foam that traps water and takes a long time to dry. Other foam types allow for faster drying (Open Cell Foam) or complete water resistance (Water Resistant Foam) (Closed Cell Foam).
  • Polyester Fill: This is a loose filling that will flatten over time but, despite its capacity to absorb water, can dry rapidly.
  • Dacron is a strong material that does not flatten out like polyester. Dacron may be used to wrap various forms of filler to disguise faults and create a more smooth and uniform appearance in some circumstances.

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