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Garden furniture buying guide

Garden furniture
buying guide

Whether you want to elevate your outdoor entertainment setup or you’re fashioning the ultimate outdoor oasis, our buying guide will help you find the best furnishings for you.

Here we will talk you through everything you need to know about garden furniture so that you can transform your space into a soothing sanctuary to retreat to during sunnier spells.

What material is best for
garden furniture?

Rattan Garden Furniture

Rattan furniture sets

A popular composition in the world of outdoor patio furniture, your new rattan furniture set can arrive in one of two forms — natural or synthetic. Both feature a woven style that perfectly complements outdoor spaces, but whilst natural wicker patio furniture has an earthier appeal, it’s important to note that this kind is not weather resistant. For this reason, the majority of outdoor garden furniture pieces are made using a synthetic polyethylene resin.

High quality, synthetic rattan garden sets are extremely robust, making them an excellent choice for those that live in wetter climates, as it’s almost completely weatherproof. However, if the area you live in is prone to windier weather, be sure to stow your furniture in a shed or outbuilding when it’s not in use as these pieces are prone to blowing over.

If you’ve had your heart set on a natural rattan garden furniture set, just be mindful that these items tend to cost considerably more and they also need to be stored in a dry space to prevent incurring damage from the elements.

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Rattan Garden Furniture

Pros

  • Strong and durable
  • Atractive
  • Comes in a variety of styles and colours

Cons

  • Not heavy enough to withstand strong winds
  • Natural wicker isn’t weatherproof
Wooden Garden Furniture

Wooden furniture sets

Wood is a wonderful option for those with an authentic, natural theme in their garden, and providing you choose wisely, furniture of this type will prove a highly durable and sturdy addition to your outdoor setup.

If you’re struggling in terms of where to begin or you’re confused as to the type of wood to choose, first and foremost, bear in mind that softwoods such as pine and cedar are considerably less expensive than their hardwood counterparts such as teak and eucalyptus.

Whichever you choose to go for, it’s important that your garden furniture is annually treated with oil and stain to help preserve peak condition and prevent any visible signs of weathering.

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Wooden Garden Furniture

Pros

  • Sturdy and durable
  • Looks natural
  • It doesn’t retain heat
  • No burnt legs on a sunny day
  • Can be painted or stained different colours

Cons

  • Will need annual maintenance
Metal Garden Furniture

Metal furniture sets

If durability and low maintenance are two of your utmost priorities, metal patio furniture may just pose the perfect solution.

If you do decide to opt for something with a metal composition, just be mindful of rusting. Be sure to source a rust-resistant outdoor furniture set that can be left outside all year round, but of course, store any soft additions such as cushions and seat pads in a safe, dry space.

In spite of its durability and weatherproof appeal, those shopping for metal outdoor furniture should consider the risk of their tables and chairs overheating. Outdoor garden dining sets and patio chairs can become incredibly hot when temperatures climb, which can increase the risk of burning the skin.

In terms of cost, what you will pay for a metal garden table and chairs set will vary depending on the exact material and the size of set that you opt for. Some metal furnishings are much more hardwearing than others, which can increase the price you can expect to pay quite considerably.

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Metal Garden Furniture

Pros

  • Durable
  • Low maintenance
  • Great for smaller spaces

Cons

  • Will get hot on sunny days
  • You may need to buy cushions separately

Frequently asked questions

How to choose garden furniture?

If you are shopping for rattan garden furniture online, it’s crucial that you set plenty of time aside to perform like for like comparisons between products as there are hundreds of different sizes, designs, styles and qualities to pick from. Comparing products will allow you to determine the best value item available to you and will remove a lot of confusion.

Size – The dimensions of the outdoor furniture you are shopping for is something you need to keep in mind at all times. For those with smaller outdoor spaces in particular, you would be amazed as to the difference a few additional centimetres here and there can really make, and you don’t want your garden to feel overwhelmed by large furnishings that don’t compliment the space.

Steel or Aluminium frames – The frame material that you opt for relates directly to the retail price, but also to the life expectancy of the product, too. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay approximately 25%-30% less for aluminium framed furnishings, however, these pieces also tend to rust within one or two years, making the longevity of the investment minimal. For this reason, you’ll usually find that aluminium framed furnishings come with a maximum one-year guarantee.

Steel garden furniture, on the other hand, is a much more durable option, and whilst you will pay more upfront for it, unlike steel, it will stand the test of time much more effectively.

Aluminium can prove a great option for those shopping on a budget or who want something inexpensive that will last just one or two summers. However, any furniture that rusts can inflict damage on other materials it comes into contact with. The likes of ceramic tiles and newly laid decking can be notably impacted by the perils of rusty outdoor furniture, so always be sure to keep weathered furniture sets away from areas such as these.

Flat packed or Pre-Assembled – Flat packed frames can feel like a real chore, but if you’re keen to save money, you’ll usually find that these items are around 25%-30% cheaper than ready assembled furnishings.

However, whilst cost can play a huge part in our outdoor furniture investments, it’s worthwhile remembering that flatpack designs are almost always much less durable. Over time, steel bolts will begin to rust and as this damage becomes worse, replacements will be needed, or the furniture could become hazardous. Loose bolts can cause furniture to become unstable and wobbly, making it unsafe and often, completely unfit for purpose, especially if elderly people or children are around.

Typically speaking, there are many benefits to investing in pre-assembled outdoor furnishings, and whilst these pieces do tend to cost more in the first instance, they are long-lasting and durable.

Cushion Material – There are a whole host of different materials used to create cushions for garden furniture and whilst some are great, others should most definitely be avoided.

Much like garden furniture itself, outdoor soft furnishings vary drastically in price and quality, but with the weather posing a potential threat to our soft furnishings, it’s essential that we source durable furnishings that won’t fail at the first sign of a rainy spell.

The likes of acrylic and olefin fabrics are among two of the most durable options when it comes to outdoor soft furnishings as they are strong and partially weatherproof. Another great option is Polyester. Polyester is an inexpensive but durable fabric that is commonly used within the garden furniture industry as it offers great value for money.

Fillings – Cushion and seat pad fillings are available in just a couple of options, making this a much more straightforward product to shop. However, it’s still crucial that you get it right.

Depending on the cushion filling you opt for, you will either gain or sacrifice comfort and longevity, but of course, the price you pay will almost always indicate the quality of the item you are purchasing.

The main filling types are foam, fibre and foam that is wrapped in fibre.

We recommend opting for cushions that are composed of foam wrapped in fibre as this style looks good from an aesthetic perspective and also recovers most effectively from weather damage. You can expect to pay more for this composition, but it is worth it for the durability and comfort of the furnishing.

PE v PVC Rattan – There are a selection of rattan materials available to choose from including PVC, PU, and PE. PVC and PU synthetic rattan materials pose much more cost-effective options; however, they aren’t as weatherproof as PE, meaning that they often come with a 1-year warranty, only.

If you are looking to save money upfront and aren’t thinking too much from a long-term perspective, PVC and PU furnishings may just present the perfect option for you. However, if you’re trying to source a premium quality outdoor furniture set that will stand the test of time, opt for PE instead. PVC and PU tend to crack or go brittle when left outside, whereas PE is completely weatherproof and can be left outdoors comfortably all year round.

The average guarantee or warranty supplied with PE garden furniture ranges from between 3-10 years, making it a much sounder investment than the cheaper options available.

How to take care of your garden furniture?

Taking great care of your garden furniture is imperative. Otherwise, you will end up having to replace it every couple of years.

Caring for rattan garden furniture

As a rule, Rattan furniture and natural wicker furniture shouldn’t be kept outside. However, if it absolutely must be, be sure to clean the grooves regularly with a brush and always use a weatherproof furniture cover to help retain premium condition.

Caring for wooden garden furniture

Softwoods are more porous than hardwoods and will require washing down with a quality wood cleaning product once per annum before being treated with a stain or paint. Hardwoods on the other hand will need to be washed down each year with soapy water. Hardwoods tend to weather naturally, which some find appealing. However, depending on your preferred aesthetic, you may wish to treat these with a stain or oil, too.

Caring for metal garden furniture

Many metal garden furnishings will come complete with a protective sealant to help prevent rusting, so often, you will just need to clean with soapy water every now and again.

If you notice signs of cracking or bubbling to the sealant, you may wish to buff it down and reapply a fresh layer of protective treatment.

One of the most effective ways to retain the quality/appearance of your metal garden furniture is to keep it covered and store in a dry place when it’s not in use.

Caring for plastic garden furniture

Plastic garden furniture boasts a whole host of benefits – one of the most appealing being that it is incredibly easy to care for. All you need to do with plastic garden furniture is wash away grime with warm, soapy water. If you notice any yellowing to your plastic garden furniture, you may wish to treat it with an abrasive solution to help relieve those tell-tale signs of discoloration.

Plastic does tend to warp if the weather is particularly hot, but you can prevent this by placing in a shadier spot when temperatures begin to climb.

Should you cover garden furniture?

If possible, garden furniture should always be covered to help prevent damage from the elements. Some materials are completely weatherproof, meaning that they don’t necessarily need to be covered up, however, ensuring that your garden furniture is protected will help alleviate any tell-tale signs of weathering and keep your furnishings in peak condition for longer.

Furniture covers tend to be relatively inexpensive, so if you don’t have an outdoor storage facility, look to invest in a weatherproof cover of film that will shield your furniture from the elements.

What garden furniture can be left outside?

Plastic garden furniture and synthetic rattan garden furnishings are weatherproof, meaning they can be left outside comfortably without the worry they will tarnish or deteriorate. However, if possible, using a furniture cover or placing in a dry storage facility is always advisable as this will keep your furniture dry and prevent the need for regular cleaning.

When to paint garden furniture?

Some garden furniture shouldn’t be painted at all. Plastic garden furniture and synthetic rattan, for instance, should be left well alone in this regard. However, if you wish to spruce up wooden furnishings, metal outdoor furniture or natural rattan furniture, you are more than welcome to do so.

You can paint your outdoor furnishings whenever you please, however, be sure that all components are completely dry to begin with. Porous materials such as wood and natural rattan will soak up water, which in turn will negatively impact the finished look of your paint job. Also, be sure that your natural furnishings are treated properly before applying paint. Using oil and stain once a year is important if you wish for your furniture to retain optimum condition, so don’t skip on this just because you’re keen to paint.

How long will garden furniture last?

How long your garden furniture will last for depends largely on what you buy. Softwood furnishings aren’t incredibly durable, however, if they are well cared for and suitably stored, can last for many years – and this goes for most outdoor furnishings.

The likes of plastic furniture and synthetic rattan tend to boast a warranty that lasts anywhere between 3-10 years as these materials are completely weatherproof, so you shouldn’t have any issues in this regard. However, providing you use furniture covers and if possible, store your furniture in a shed or outbuilding, your tables, chairs and loungers should last a few years in any case.

If you’re keen to optimise the life of your outdoor furniture, store it safely in a dry space and use the recommended treatments as advised. Following these simple steps will help keep your garden furniture sets in a premium condition for as long as possible.

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