How do you decide which type of outdoor furniture is best for your garden?

Cast aluminium, wrought iron, stainless steel, wood, resin, plastic, wicker or rattan? This month we're exploring how to decide which type of outdoor furniture is best for your garden…

Last month we looked at how you decide which outdoor furniture material is the best value for money

In that article, we published an office straw poll that highlighted the factors or attributes that can help you determine which outdoor furniture material offers the best value for money.

We created the table below and scored each material out of 10. It was just a bit of fun in the office really but it was to illustrate that true value for money is about more than just getting something at a low price.  

The criteria we listed have inspired us to look at them in a little more detail and we can use them to help us decide for ourselves which type of outdoor furniture is best for our gardens. 

We can take the common-known pros and cons of each material, see how they stack up against the qualities or attributes consumers look for such as style, value, durability, maintenance, etc and add in the functionality of different types of outdoor furniture to help make an informed purchase.

Here at Lazy Susan, our focus is on cast aluminium with outdoor dining-style sets at the core of our offer. However, in this blog article, we want to help you decide if that option is right for your garden or would another material or type of furniture be better suited to your patio needs and wants.

The pros and cons of different outdoor furniture materials

Cast Aluminium

  1. Pros 
    Attractive, timeless style, low cost, easy to recycle, easy to clean, durable, long-lasting, low maintenance, rust resistant and lightweight.
  2. Cons
    Can be compromised if the protective finish is damaged, conducts heat and protective paint if chipped will need touching up.

Stainless Steel

  1. Pros 
    Durable & long-lasting, wind-resistant with a high-quality look and finish that pairs well with other materials.
  2. Cons 
    Prone to rust if not correctly maintained, conducts heat in the summer and can be heavy so difficult to pick up and move.

Wrought Iron

  1. Pros
    Sturdy, heavyweight, timeless Style, highly decorative finishes, attractive, traditional material and handmade craftsmanship.
  2. Cons
    High maintenance, expensive to buy and maintain, high conductor of heat and very heavy so difficult to pick up and move.


  1. Pros
    Natural material, easy to recycle, heavy, low heat transfer, sustainable material.
  2. Cons
    Requires regular maintenance, prone to weather damage, hard to pick up and move and splinters are a big problem.

Synthetic Rattan

  1. Pros
    Low cost, durable, low maintenance and low heat transfer.
  2. Cons
    It is lightweight and can look cheap. Plus, the oven strips are prone to splitting, warping and fading when exposed to direct sunlight.


  1. Pros
    Low cost, durable, low maintenance, contemporary styling and low heat transfer.
  2. Cons
    It is lightweight, can look cheap and is prone to splitting, warping and fading when exposed to direct sunlight.

The attributes consumers look for in new outdoor furniture

So what is it that’s important to us as consumers when buying new outdoor furniture? 

One thing we know after many years in this industry is that every customer is different but the price, quality and comfort are usually high up for most. But some will place weather resistance at the top of their list, for others, it is all about style and what it looks like. 

Identifying which attributes are most important to you, will help you establish which type, style and material of outdoor furniture are best for your garden. 

  1. Price
    We all have a budget, so the price is always key to the decision-making process. In our industry, it is often a case of you get what you pay for. If it is cheap, then make sure the material and construction are of a quality that will stand up to the elements. That’s not to say you can’t find a bargain. At Lazy Susan we offer discounts, seasonal promotions and bundle deals, etc to help you get a good deal. 
  2. Quality
    After price, quality is probably the next critical factor. We want a good deal but we want a product that is built for its environment. Many in our industry will claim weather resistance but for how long? Can you leave it on your patio all year round safe in the knowledge it won’t warp, rust, split or fade?
  3. Function
    Very much dependent on how you want to use your garden furniture but function is often overlooked for style. Both are important but we think function and, specifically comfort, have the edge. Of course, you want the furniture to look good but it must function too, and for outdoor furniture that means comfortable to relax on or eat at. 
  4. Style
    Whilst we think style follows function and comfort, you still want the furniture to look great, to be in a style that fits with the style of your home and garden. Our range is classically styled for that reason, it can sit on your patio for many summers to come and never go out of fashion.
  5. Material
    Personally speaking, we would probably put material a little higher up the list, but we know what we like. For many people, it is very much a secondary consideration to all of the above. That said, our advice is to go for the material best suited to the UK climate but push your budget to get the best quality that delivers all of the above.
  6. Durability
    Garden furniture can take a lot of punishment from those who use it and from simply being outside. From bird droppings and tress sap to dropped cutlery or a stray football, it is essential it is durable and robust. 
  7. Weather Resistance
    Your furniture will be sat outdoors, possibly all year round if you don’t have the space to store it, so weather resistance is critical. Many assume that because it is outdoor furniture it is designed for this but there is very much a scale to that.
  8. Wind Resistance
    Whilst you want to stand up to all the rain we get in the UK, the wind is often a big problem for us here in the UK, especially if your garden is open/exposed. You need enough weight so that it won’t topple over on a blustery day but not too heavy that you can’t pick it up and move it to a safe spot if there are high winds.
  9. Fade Resistance
    Again, much like wind, UV resistance is something many overlook. In the UK we are pre-programmed to think about rain but in the summer the sun can be strong, so you want pieces that won’t quickly fade.
  10. Heat Conduction
    Often the flip side of fade resistance is heat conduction. Unfortunately, the trade-off is those materials less likely to fade like metal are the ones that conduct greater heat. Our counterargument to this would be to pair metal furniture with a parasol for shade and cushions for extra comfort. If you decide this is a problem in your garden, then look for low conductors like plastic or wood.
  11. Rust/Rot Proof
    The scourge of outdoor furniture and, as consumers, we have the right to be concerned. Nobody wants to sit on rusted or rotting garden chairs. Look for materials/pieces that have been sealed, treated or painted to further protect them from the elements and follow the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines to keep them protected and looking like new.
  12. Maintenance
    Following on from the above you want furniture that is easy to maintain, so do your research. You don’t want to be sanding and re-sealing every summer just to keep it in tip-top condition. A quick wash with warm soapy water and the occasional touch-up is all we think it should need.
  13. Easy To Move
    We touched on this above in wind resistance but it is an attribute many consumers look for. Of course, you don’t want pieces so light the blow over in a breeze but if you want to move them around your garden to find the perfect sunny spot or to store them so they’re always clean and ready to use, then they you need to be able to pick them up.
  14. Easy To Recycle
    This is a new one but probably the fastest-growing attribute people desire from their garden furniture. We discussed this subject in detail in our can our garden furniture be recycled article but more and more of us are looking for materials that can be easily recycled at the end of their life.
  15. Sustainability
    Linked to the above but its own attribute is sustainability. Not only do we want garden furniture that won’t end up in a landfill, but we are also starting to ask the right questions about how and where our garden furniture is made.

The popular types of outdoor furniture in the UK

  1. Outdoor Dining Sets
    If you like to BBQ or enjoy a meal on your patio when the sun is shining, then an outdoor dining set is essential.
  2. Outdoor Sofa Sets
    If you prefer to just sit back and relax in comfort with a drink when the sun shines, then an outdoor sofa is the solution for your garden.
  3. Outdoor Bistro Sets
    If you have limited outdoor space or want to purchase multiple pieces then the bistro set is perfect for those who want to enjoy a cosy meal for two on their patio.
  4. Garden Benches with a Side/Coffee Table
    This is a great solution for those with limited space or for anybody wanting to create a quiet seating area away from the main patio where you can sit with a book and a drink.
  5. Daybeds
    If you enjoy a spot of sunbathing or a siesta in the summertime, then a daybed is the ultimate in garden lounging.
  6. Swing Chairs
    Perfect for those who like to spend a lazy day in the garden they also make a great decorative focal point in your garden or on your patio.
  7. Garden Loungers & Reclining Chairs
    For those who want to relax in the sun but want to have the flexibility to adjust from an upright seating position to a laid-back bed style.

Which types of outdoor furniture are best for UK gardens?

From the above, you can establish which type of outdoor furniture is best for your garden. Maybe use our table and grade each attribute yourself?

Any good purchasing decision is made when you understand what it is you need, conduct your own research, understand the market and carefully evaluate alternatives before you buy. 

The old proverb goes “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” but when shopping for a big-ticket item like garden furniture the opposite is very much true.

It is important you buy a set that function in the way you want to spend time in your garden, that fit in the space in terms of size and style and is constructed from an outdoor material that fits with your lifestyle and the climate in your garden.

Here at Lazy Susan, we chose to focus on cast aluminium as it is a great all-rounder.

Low maintenance, durable, sturdy and fully weatherproof but significantly lighter than wood or iron so it can be moved and stored. 

The casting process allows us to achieve the same intricate and timeless designs you see with wrought iron but at a fraction of the cost and in a metal better suited to our climate.

It is as easy to clean as synthetic rattans and plastics but with better weather resistance and much more quality and patio appeal.

To find out why we think our cast aluminium outdoor furniture is best for UK gardens, then please read our which outdoor furniture material is best for the UK article where we put our case forward.

If you have any photos of your new Lazy Susan Outdoor Furniture in your garden, then we’d love to see a few for our Do Some Good charity campaign. You can tag us @LazySusanFurniture on Instagram or Facebook or email them to us at [email protected].

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