How to Choose the Right Outdoor Furniture for Your Backyard

Getting furniture may be the last thing on your mind when people are stomping all over your backyard, but it should be the first when your patio is done — aside from having a drink or two while suntanning, of course.

But what kind of furniture should you get? Obviously, feather cushions aren’t going to work, nor will unsealed wood chairs and tables. So, what will? And better yet, how can you choose the right furniture for your backyard?

Let’s find out.

1. Figure Out What You Want

Before you storm out of the house or go through IKEA listings, find out how you’d like your outdoor space to function. Do you want it to serve as an entertainment area? A comfy nook surrounded by all your favorite plants? Or a space for your children to play?

If you have a large backyard, you could make all these options work by putting a sofa, a few lounge chairs, some outdoor products from ArchiPro, and a table to create a chillaxing pad; an entertainment area with chairs and tables; and a sunbathing space sprinkled with chaise lounges.

But if your backyard is tiny, settle on what you like to do the most. For example, if you love to chill with a few friends every week, make your space a hangout spot. And if you have a massive family and consider cooking your best friend, pitch for a dining table and some chairs. Here are some more outdoor living space ideas.

2. Consider Your Weather

While you’re figuring out your furniture needs, make sure to consider the weather. Do you live near the salty ocean? Does everything burn during the summer? Is humidity a fact of life, or does it say hello once in a while?

Remember, your weather will determine the life of your backyard furniture. If it’s too sunny where you live, your furniture is going to discolor, wash out, fade, and degrade fast, especially if you’ve used plastic and synthetic materials like nylon and polyester.

And if it’s too humid, your furniture will rot, crack, and splinter. You’ll run into faded finishes, stains, and corroded looks if it’s metal. And aluminum furniture will fly off into the sunset when a cyclone decides to visit. 

3. Know Your Materials

Once you know what your weather is like and what you want, think about furniture materials. Because if you want your outdoor furniture to look brand-spanking-new at every party you host for the next decade, you’ll have to make very specific choices.

For instance, you could go with aluminum or powder-coated steel, UV-resistant plastic, or stainless steel for durability. But these materials aren’t a sure bet, as they might change color when exposed to the elements over time.

And while you can get high-quality plastic furniture, it costs an arm and a leg and doesn’t wear as well in the sun. So, skip the plastic entirely if your backyard is a sunlight magnet.

A good choice is teak because it’s silicate-rich, so moisture just slides off it. Plus, the wood is dry as the Sahara, so you won’t have problems with mold, and you’ll only have to oil or seal it occasionally.

But if that sounds too hard, you could always have it weather gracefully. Plus, if your teak furniture becomes grimy, you could always use a power washer to reveal the beauty underneath.

If teak is not an option, you could go with eucalyptus, cedar, or mahogany. They’re just as durable.

4. Think About Storage

You can add years to the life of your backyard furniture by stuffing it in a protected corner, such as your basement, shed, or garage, when you’re not using it. So, if you have storage space in your house, make sure to look for furniture that can fit inside it.

But if you’re like most of us and already have enough stuff in your house, you might not be able to shift your furniture in and out when you want. Plus, who wants to or can (hello, surprise storm) stay ahead of the weather all the time?

In this case, it’s a good idea to get weather-resistant backyard furniture to cut down the hassle of constantly moving your chairs and tables back and forth. That way, you’ll have to move only your cushions when they’re not in use.

5. Don’t Forget Cushions

If you like to flatten everything nicely or torture yourself with discomfort, solid wood or steel furniture is going to do the trick for you. But if you’re looking to lounge in the sun with an Old Cuban in your hand, cushions will add some much-needed comfort.

However, cushions also come with maintenance hassles, as they can get wet, dirty, and soggy.

If you want to avoid drippy, sad-looking cushions, go for furniture with mesh netting, twine fiber seats, or something that’s comfy on its own. This is especially true if you live in a humid, hurricane-prone, and sooty area.

But if you aren’t willing to go without cushions, use the right materials. For example, if you have a sunny backyard, get cushions made from solution-dyed acrylic instead of polyesters or nylons, which degrade in the sun.

And if you don’t want your cushions to drip on you for days, stuff them with open-cell or reticulated foam, which allows water to slide off.

6. Invest in Quality

Remember: you get what you pay for. For instance, if you get plastic, it’ll look good on the shelf for a year or two, but it’s going to become brittle and less vibrant when exposed to the sun over time, especially if you go cheap.

Similarly, if you skimp on the finish, your wood furniture is going to rot and splinter if you live in a humid area.

So, think about the long-term wear cost when buying outdoor furniture because you’ll spend the money once and keep getting dividends when you use your tables and chairs year after year without them breaking down.