Outdoor spaces in our stay-at-home world are more important than ever before. Whether you have a small balcony or a sprawling backyard, a bit of fresh air is key to fighting quarantine fatigue.
For many of us, sprucing up our outdoor areas is at the top of the home projects to-do list, but picking out quality furniture can be daunting. In the past, we offered five tips for finding top-flight outdoor furniture. Now, we’re breaking down the best outdoor furniture by material—wood, metal, plastic, fabric, and wicker.
While it’s true that some outdoor furniture can be astronomically expensive—running into thousands of dollars—don’t despair! There are plenty of options for budget-conscious patio dwellers, too. Need even more picks? Don’t miss our favorite affordable outdoor sofas and budget-minded dining sets.
Review our advice and get shopping—the outdoors are calling.
Wood outdoor furniture
Wooden patio furniture is sturdy, long-lasting (if well cared for), and often feels the most like having real furniture outside. It can also be expensive. Look for dense-grained tropical hardwoods—like teak—that are able to resist warping and swelling, or opt for cheaper wood and throw on a cover for protection.
Other popular woods used in outdoor furniture are cedar, pine, and eucalyptus. Be aware that wood furniture often requires staining and oil to maintain its original appearance.
Metal patio furniture
Thanks to the steep price tags of wooden outdoor furniture, metal is becoming an increasingly popular choice. Aluminum furniture is lightweight, durable, and doesn’t require much maintenance.
Steel is a heavier option, but both usually need to be coated with a protective finish known as powder coating. The good thing about metal outdoor furniture is there are a lot of options at all price points.
Plastic furniture may have a reputation for being flimsy, but new technology proves that it can be a great material for outdoor furniture. Using high-density polyethylene—some of which is recycled from milk cartons or bottles—plastic furniture can be highly durable, doesn’t require painting or sealing, and can be designed to look like almost anything.
Of course, there are still some poor quality plastic products out there, but even low-end furniture can be treated with UV-stabilizing pigments to reduce fading. The best part? Plastic is easy to wipe down and won’t peel like other products.
If your dream afternoon involves a couch and some sun, look no further than an outdoor sofa. Usually a blend of wood or powder-coated steel with fabric cushions, outdoor couches offer a level of relaxation that just can’t be matched in a dining room chair. Speciality treated fabrics mean that these gems can hang outside, no matter the weather.
Wicker and rattan
Before you think wicker furniture only belongs at grandma’s house, take a look at this generation’s wicker: It’s sleek, lightweight, and comfortable. Wicker can also be used indoor or outdoors, so it works well on sunrooms and porches.
Maybe it’s the pop of color, or maybe it just feels better to have something underfoot, but rugs can tie an outdoor space together. They are made from materials ranging from nylon to polyester to polypropylene, but make sure you find one that is mold and mildew-resistant. Better yet, look for rugs that are treated to resist the harsh exposure to UV rays.