Here at Lazy Susan, we hope you had a wonderful Christmas and we just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all the best for 2023.
For the team here, we’re slowly easing back into things and starting to gear up for our busy summer season. Many assume our winter off-season would be a quiet one, and whilst sales are slower, for the team it is a case of all hands on deck.
Wintertime provides us with an opportunity to review, implement and improve. Plus, we have some exciting plans in the pipeline that we’re working on but they’re for another day.
The New Year is also the perfect time for us to start thinking about home improvements, and if you’re in the market for new outdoor furniture, then now is also a great time to start the buying process:
- You’ve got plenty of time to research and shop around.
- The items you want are more likely to be in our warehouse.
- We can ensure they’re quickly shipped.
- You then have plenty of time to get them assembled and on your patio ready for when the weather picks up.
When is the best time to buy is a subject we tackled in depth last month, so in this post we wanted to follow up with an in-depth look at the different types and materials to try and help you decide which outdoor furniture is the best value for money.
Of course, we know what we like, and that is why we sell it. However, we will present the facts to help you decide if timber or metal is best and if sofa-style seating or a dining set would work best in your garden.
What is value for money in the outdoor furniture industry?
I suppose the first thing we should try to define is what constitutes “value for money”. It is a term that means different things to different people and can be used in different ways. Taken as a synonym, then it is basically just another way of saying cost-effective. In other words, you are getting good value for the amount of money paid.
Fair enough, we all want that. This is why when it comes to shopping, be it online or in-store, we all love a bargain. However, there is a big “but” in that… At Lazy Susan, we would define true “value for money” as not just if the products are cheap to purchase, but if they are of 'real' value to you or not.
For example, there is no point in buying a cheap outdoor furniture set in an end-of-the-summer sale, if it does not fit with how you like to spend time in your garden. In other words, the set you purchase has to be something that you will use, fits in terms of style, size, shape, etc and you will enjoy it for many years to come.
Value for money is often defined in the retail industry as the best combination of cost, quality and sustainability to meet your (the consumer) requirements.
In terms of which outdoor furniture is the best value for money, then we need to consider the material it is made from (both its longevity and long-term maintenance) and the type of set/piece (is it a patio sofa set, outdoor dining set, etc) and how that fits with our space and liefstyle.
When viewing the cost, we have to consider the whole life cost too. What can be seen as a bargain at the point of purchase, might not last as long (i.e. be as weather resistant) as another which costs more but won’t need replacing as quickly.
With outdoor furniture, quality to us means that it must be constructed from a material fit for purpose and it can sit on your patio in all weather for many years to come with minimum maintenance.
Which outdoor furniture material is the best value for money?
Let’s look at each of the popular outdoor furniture materials and we will summarise their pros and cons to get a better picture of what they offer in terms of cost and quality.
We covered the pros and cons of each material in detail in our which outdoor furniture material is best for the UK article, so for the purpose of this post, we will simply summarise from that.
Cast Aluminium Outdoor Furniture
- Timeless Style
- Low Cost
- Easy to Recycle
- Easy to Clean
- Low Maintenance
- Rust Resistant
- Can be compromised if the protective finish is damaged
- Conducts Heat
- Protective paint if chipped will need touching up
For Lazy Susan, cast aluminium is the material best suited for outdoor furniture in the UK. It is low maintenance, durable, sturdy and fully weatherproof but significantly lighter than wood or iron so can be moved and stored.
The casting process allows us to achieve the same intricate and timeless designs you see with iron pieces but at a fraction of the cost. On the downside, it can conduct heat although generally less so than other metals (plus our painted finish further reduces).
However, it requires significantly less cleaning and maintenance than other materials, with maybe the exception of plastic/synthetic resins, but it will definitely last much longer than those.
Cast Iron Outdoor Furniture
- Timeless Style
- Decorative Finish
- Traditional Material
- Handmade Craftsmanship
- High Maintenance
- High Conductor of Heat
- Heavy to Move
Wrought iron has undeniable heritage, tradition and quality of craftsmanship. It is heavy and sturdy so great in high winds, and if maintained properly highly weather-resistant.
On the downside, it requires regular maintenance to protect it and prevent it from rusting, and that weight and craftsmanship mean it's expensive and difficult to pick up and move.
If rust does take hold, it can be repaired but again this is often expensive, however, if you’re happy to pay up and look after it, then it is maybe an investment worth making.
Wood Outdoor Furniture
- Natural Material
- Easy to Recycle
- Low Heat Transfer
- Requires Regular Maintenance
- Prone to Weather Damage
Wood will always be a popular material in our industry, as it is both sturdy and long-lasting if properly treated/maintained. However, you very much get what you pay for with wood.
Softwoods such as cedar for example won’t break the bank but even with regular maintenance, they will quickly show their age from rain and UV exposure. Hardwoods offer much more in terms of weather resistance but that comes at a cost. Teak for example will naturally ‘weather’ to protect itself from the elements as they contain a much higher level of natural oils and a tighter grain so are better suited to sun and rain exposure.
If you don't mind a day or two of DIY each year, then a hardwood set is a great investment, plus, you can easily restore to new by sanding, re-staining, re-waxing, etc after a few years of weathering.
Synthetic Resin Outdoor Furniture
- Low cost
- Low Maintenance
- Low Heat Transfer
- Looks Cheap
- Sun Warp/Fade
Plastic garden furniture is the best option if you’re on a tight budget. The designs are getting a lot better too and, as an outdoor furniture material, it definitely lends itself more to some of the modern designs that are very popular at the moment.
The big advantage of modern plastic outdoor pieces is you can get them in a wonderful array of colours too, from vibrant oranges to on-trend muted earth tones. And whilst 100% waterproof, it is incredibly lightweight and lacks durability and stability. If left in direct sunlight it can also fade and potentially warp.
It is, of course, super easy to keep clean, but you can’t easily repair it if it does split or crack, and it will, generally speaking, only last a few years or so. However, with that lower initial purchase price, if you want the latest trends, then it could be the perfect material for your patio.
Which type of outdoor furniture set is the best value for money?
When assessing which outdoor furniture is the best value for money, after material, the other thing to consider is the style or type of furniture you would like for your outdoor space.
Ours is an industry that has seen a host of products come in and out of fashion over the last decade or so but they primarily fall into two groups, outdoor dining and outdoor relaxation.
Here we will focus on the main types of furniture (there are many variations, sets that mix these types, etc) to help you decide which will offer the best value for money.
When it comes to type, for Lazy Susan, it is simply the set or pieces of furniture that will not only look best in your outdoor space but will also fit best with how you (and your family) like to use and enjoy that space.
Outdoor Dining Sets
The primary focus of our collection is outdoor dining. Comprising of outdoor table and coordinating garden chairs, they can then be enhanced with accessories such as a parasol and seat cushions, etc for maximum comfort.
Available in a multitude of styles, finishes, shapes and sizes, they create the perfect patio focal point and offer the perfect solution for outdoor entertaining. On the downside, they are more formal so are not for all-day sitting.
Why Purchase: If you like to BBQ or enjoy a meal on your patio when the sun is shining, then an outdoor dining set is essential.
Outdoor Sofa Sets
In a contrast to the dining set is the outdoor sofa set whose primary focus is to kick back and relax. Most popular in the UK is the rattan style sets but metal and timber styles are also available.
Outdoor sofas look super stylish and will give your garden a cool laid back feel. They generally need quite a large amount of space and whilst OK for drinks and nibbles, they’re not best suited to eating.
Why purchase: 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.
Outdoor Bistro Sets
A bistro set is a type of outdoor dining set specifically designed for cafe-style dining when space is limited. Generally supplied as a two-seater they are perfect for smaller patios or balconies and are a great option if you want to combine dining and relaxation pieces.
They are perfect for those looking to bring a little Parisienne chic to their outdoor spaces but with limited tabletop space, things can get a little cramped if you want to serve food al fresco to more than two or three.
Why purchase: 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.
Garden Benches with Side/Coffee Tables
This is a trend we have seen emerge over the last few years and demand has influenced supply with a whole host of coffee-style sets now available in the UK.
Here at Lazy Susan, the flexibility of our coordinating range means that we have seen consumers purchase various pieces to create a bespoke seating area, from garden benches with side tables to dining sets paired with garden benches.
Why purchase: 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.
The daybed is another emerging trend in the UK but is maybe the ultimate in relaxation. And like many of the different types of outdoor furniture, it started life as an indoor piece and has been adapted with outdoor materials such as timber and metal.
Daybeds come in a host of styles and shapes but they are best defined as a half-bed, half-sofa. The ideal spot for lounging on a sunny day and for afternoon napping they are elegant and stylish.
On the downside they are a large piece so require a good chunk of patio space and whilst great for laid back beach style relaxation, you can’t do much else.
Why purchase: If you enjoy a spot of sunbathing or a siesta in the summertime, then a daybed is the ultimate in garden lounging.
Swing chairs have been around for many years but they witnessed a real boom during the pandemic, with the “Egg Chair” trending across social media.
Also available in a range of finishes and materials, popular styles in the UK feature a curved rattan egg-style chair suspended from a metal frame or a bench-style seat in a wooden frame.
Much like the daybed, they are great for relaxation, and whilst you can enjoy a drink on a swing chair, they are definitely more relaxing than dining.
Why purchase: 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.
Garden Loungers & Reclining Chairs
If the idea of a swing chair makes you feel a little seasick then we are predicting that garden loungers and recliners will be the must-have relaxation piece for summer 23.
The recliner-style seating offers greater versatility as they can be paired with a table for dining or dropped back for relaxation. Much of the sets sold in the UK feature two sofa-style seats paired with a coffee table.
On the lounger side, you can the classic sun loungers such as those available in our collection or a sofa-style seat that can be adjusted to create a more laid-back reclined seating position.
Why purchase: 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.
How do you decide which outdoor furniture material is the best value for money?
We thought the best way to determine which outdoor furniture material offers the best value for money was to create a table and score each material out of 10.
This isn’t some conclusive piece of research, just a bit of fun really. We simply asked the team and tried to score fairly. And, of course, we have cast aluminium bias. However, you can easily take the categories, apply your own score and draw your own conclusions.
As we stated in our intro, the garden furniture that offers the best value is the one that gives you the best score in the categories that are important to you, be it weather resistance, maintenance, or whatever.
For example, a cast aluminium dining set will probably cost more than most wooden sets but it will require significantly less maintenance and is better suited to the weather we see in the UK. Plastic on the other hand is the cheapest option but is more likely to blow over if the wind picks up.
The best value is the one that ticks the most pros and least cons in your own list of key criteria. The reason we truly believe it is cast aluminium is that it is the best all-rounder, and it offers the best overall scores. No material is perfect but it provides the best balance.
The same goes for the type of outdoor furniture too. Maybe, there’s not one set or piece that is perfect for your space or needs. It is about what will give you the most use and enjoyment.
If you have a large garden then this point is moot. You can purchase multiple pieces for dining and relaxation. However, if your outdoor space is limited, then an outdoor dining or bistro-style set is maybe a more logical purchase. You can enjoy a meal, BBQ and drinks, plus, you can still sit and enjoy the sunshine for a few hours.
Sofa-style seating definitely gives you greater comfort but eating is tricky. However, again, it is all personal preference. You purchase whatever is going to get the most use in your home and that is what we feel is real value for money.
The best advice we can give is to plan your outdoor space as you would the inside of your home though. Think of it as a room, the furniture must fit and the space must flow, function in a way that makes you want to spend time on it.
Do your research before you buy. Establish what material you want, and what type of furniture ticks the box in terms of the way you use your garden, measure carefully and establish that once it's in place, you can still safely and easily move around, add any other pieces such as BBQ, Gazebo, etc that you want.
Whilst tempting as it is to settle for what we perceive as a sale bargain, always ask if that is the best value for money. Of course, set yourself a budget and stick to it. But look to get the best bang for your buck.
Much like a jumper with 50% off in Janurary sales might appear to be a bargain, if it doesn’t fit well or it’ll just sit in the wardrobe unworn then its not a bargain. The same is true with outdoor furniture!
Make sure you’re getting the best quality for your budget. A sale bargain is always most welcome but it can also be a false economy.
Of course, buying garden furniture at different times of the year, such as during the off-season or end-of-season sales, can also deliver great value for money savings.
So too can online promotions such as our bundle deals, where you’re getting our high-quality cast aluminium furniture but saving money when purchasing multiple pieces or accessories. We discussed this in detail in our recent how do you save money on outdoor furniture post if you want to know more.
If you do purchase cast aluminium outdoor furniture from us, then you can be confident that your purchase will deliver value for money. It is a premium quality material at an affordable price point.
Yes, you can probably buy an equivalent type of furniture in a cheaper material for less but ask yourself will it last as long when left in the garden all year round with as little maintenance?
If you have any photos of your new Lazy Susan furniture in your garden, then we’d love to see a few snaps for our Do Some Good charity campaign. You can tag us @LazySusanFurniture on Instagram or Facebook or email them to us at [email protected].