It is important you choose the right garden furniture for both the style and amount of free patio space and how you use that outdoor space. Its not just about simply buying a furniture set because it looks good – although this is important – or because its got 50% off in the end of season sale.
Looks can be deceiving too. Don’t just buy the latest styles without checking the quality first. Paying attention to how outdoor furniture constructed and from what materials, will deliver a value-for-money purchase. Here are some of our helpful tips for buying the right garden furniture.
Measure your available outdoor space
The type of furniture you can get depends on the amount of free outdoor space you have available. For example, a small 2 seater bistro set such as our Ella set (shown above) might be the best option for the smaller patio, while our stylish rattan cube set (shown below) is a better fit on a bigger patio.
Consider what pieces of furniture you need
It is also important that any outdoor furniture you purchase is based on the needs of your family and how you use your outdoor space. For example, if you want to relax with a book, then comfort is paramount, so look at a day bed or an outdoor sofa set such as our Fluer (see below).
Think about storage
Most retailers in the UK will claim their garden furniture is ‘all-weather’; and while we know that our cast aluminium pieces are designed and constructed to stand up to all mother nature can throw at them, they still need to be protected in harsh weather.
So, before you buy a piece of outdoor furniture, see if you have enough storage space for the winter months. If you don’t, go for smaller pieces that you can accommodate indoors or factor in the purchase of a suitable cover into your budget.
Quality is key
When choosing new garden furniture, rub your hand over surfaces to make sure they are smooth. Check that joints are screwed not stapled and glued. With metal garden furniture, check that any welding isn’t cracked and that any powder-coated finish is generously applied.
When it comes to durability, our general rules are as follows:
- Teak is better than pine
- Cast aluminium is better than steel and easier to maintain than iron
- UV-treated polyester is better than cotton
- High-quality synthetic rattan or wicker is better outside than the real thing
The British weather is a factor you can’t ignore
Outdoor furniture has to withstand the British wind, rain and not so frequent sun exposure. The rain can warp wood, corrode/oxidize metal, and make fabrics mouldy. The sun on the other hand can split timber and fade the colour on plastics or fabric.
Choosing furniture that is relatively weatherproof, is all down to knowing a thing or two about which materials are best for the UK, which leads us nicely into…
Consider the different materials
When shopping for outdoor furniture, the most important decision you have to make is regarding which material is best for you
- Timber garden furniture
The look and feel of natural timber furniture is very appealing. However, the sun and rain will make wood fade and split/warp. It required frequent maintenance to keep it weather-proof. Go for timber furniture that’s constructed from dense, moisture-resistant hardwoods, such as teak. And make sure that each piece is fastened together and not glued, preferably with brass or stainless steel fittings.
- Plastic garden furniture
Plastic is lightweight, reasonably sturdy, easy to clean, recyclable and generally inexpensive (although there’s many high-end designer pieces on the market too). It won’t rust, need painting or rot in the wet. However, it will degrade over time. If you want a colourful outdoor setting, then plastic is the thing, but do check that the plastic polymer has UV-stabilizing pigments, because these will ensure that those bright colours won’t fade too quickly.
- Rattan garden furniture
Synthetic rattan is leading the way in terms of technological advancement in the garden furniture industry. These all-weather wickers are woven from extruded synthetic strands that can be dyed many a different colour. Woven around light, rustproof aluminium frames, it is has all the benefits of plastic furniture, but with a much more sophisticated look.
- Metal garden furniture
Outdoor furniture made from metal is always an excellent choice. Aluminium is a contemporary material that suits both contemporary and classic designs. It is lightweight, doesn’t rust and is long-lasting. Just make sure the furniture has a UV-resistant powder-coated finish as this will prevent oxidation on the surface.
Cushions will give extra comfort
When choosing outdoor furniture, always make sure you check dimensions. This seems a little obvious, but it is important you check that seats are roomy enough and at a good height in terms of the table you’re pairing them to.
And while our chairs are contoured, for extra comfort, why not add some cushions? There are a number of high-tech fabrics suitable for outdoors, including solution-dyed acrylic fabric, which resists UV rays, moisture, mildew and stains.
Add that finishing touch
Lastly, an outdoor area should be furnished just like any indoor room if you want to get maximum use. This means a few simple accessories will finish the space and increase the wow factor…
Look at adding bench seats that double as storage, a parasol for shade, outdoor rugs, lighting and maybe a fire pit or patio heater. Just keep in mind that outdoor furniture should fit in with the surroundings, your personality and withstand the UK climate.