American Homeowners Association Membership  
American Homeowners Association


 

 

BUYING OUTDOOR FURNITURE

More and more of us are finding solace in the outdoors. It is even reported that gardening is one of the top recreational activities among adults in America. For some basic, primal reason, we humans find peace outdoors. Which means that many of us are furnishing our outdoor spaces with comfortable pieces we can take a rest in and recuperate from our day or just admire our growing gardens.

But how do you know how to find the best deal in outdoor furniture?

The answer is that it is not easy. Unfortunately, the good quality furniture looks a great deal like the lower quality furniture. The only differences are how long it lasts’ and the details.

Here is a quick guide to finding the best lawn furniture for your garden, patio, deck or other outdoor space.

Budget, Need & Location

Money. Doesn't it always somehow get back to money? Well, you do need to decide how much you are going to spend. It is easy to go out shopping and get sticker shock. Good outdoor furniture does not come cheap. In fact, it can cost as much as you would spend to outfit a room within the walls of your home.

The question is what do you want? If you live in a warm climate, you may want to consider your outdoor space as true living space and furnish it accordingly. If, however, you live in a cold climate, you have to ask yourself how much you want to spend on a space you will spend a limited amount of time.

The other question is how long do you expect the furniture to last? If you move a lot, you may want to find something that will be replaced upon your next move and will want to look at the more inexpensive options. But if you would like to see that teak chair on your deck for the next 10 years, you better pull out your wallet and be prepared to pay for one that will last.

Look & Finish

This will be a determining factor in your purchase-but it won't be the only one. Of course, you want it to look good. But don't forget that that means you want it looking good both now and in the future. Take some time to check out the finish. It can tell you a lot about the quality.

The surface texture and colors on any outdoor furniture should be uniform. The entire set should actually look the same and feel the same. Take the seats and place them side-by-side to be sure they are all the same color. Any variation in shading could be a sign of poor workmanship and quality.

You will also want to note if the seat heights are the same. A variation here indicates poor manufacturing.

Feel

This is a true test for any furniture. A piece may look like a work of art, but if you can't reach the ground or your back starts to ache within minutes of sitting down, you may want to pass.

This is also a great way to test uniformity. Sit in all the chairs in a set. They should all feel the same. If you notice variances in their feel, you may want to keep shopping.

Cushions

Most lawn furniture comes with a cushion option. This allows you to coordinate with the rest of your dˆ©cor or match your garden colors. Whatever the guiding factor in your style choices, you will want to pay attention to the materials put into manufacturing the cushion.

The best cushions are water repellent. They allow rainwater to bead up, not soak in. This is essential if you live in an area with a lot of summer showers, such as Florida.

You will also want to look for solution dyed acrylic or polypropylene covers. These last longer because the color is actually created from penetrated fibers. They won't fade as quickly as other fabrics would.

However, a real fabric choice may be more your style. This will work if you live in a temperate climate where the cushions will be kept in an area under cover and protected from UV rays and rainfall. This choice is best for a sunroom or covered deck.

Choice of Wood, Resin or Metal
These are the big choices among materials underneath the decorative cushions. Which one you choose, depend on the space you want to use them in, your budget and how long you want them to last. Here is a brief look at each:

Metal

Metal and wood are both a good choice if you live in an area with heavy winds. They are less likely to blow away.

When choosing metals, look for aluminum, steel or wrought iron that has been finished with a powder-coating. This coating is baked in for longevity. You will also want to look for one with an anti-corrosive agent that will prevent fading, chipping, blistering or peeling. Unfortunately, these coatings come with a hefty price of nearly 5 times more than those without.

Also look at the welds on any metal furniture. You will want smooth, well finished welds. Avoid furniture with spot welds. Again, the furniture should have a smooth and uniform appearance despite the need for welds in metal.

Wood

The wood of choice in most outdoor furniture is teak. But like all wood, teak comes a variety of grade. That means there is a large scale of quality among the teak furniture’Ķand a wide price range.

For the best teak furniture, look for pieces that are made out of single pieces of wood. If you see a seam in a leg, it is a sure sign of lower quality.

You will also want to look at how the pieces are joined. Avoid pieces with glued or screwed legs and tops. The best teak furniture is joined with mortise and tenon joints with dowel reinforcements.

In wood, fit and comfort is key. Be sure to sit in every piece before buying. Don't assume adding a cushion will make an uncomfortable chair bearable. Test that theory out before buying.

Resin (a.k.a. high quality plastic)

Resin is a top-of-the-line plastic that is painted with a high-gloss lacquered finish. The biggest benefit with this is that it can be touched up when scratched.

The key to finding the best resin furniture is to test its strength. A good piece will not bend when you sit. It will be strong and dense.

Copyright © 2000, AHA, the American Homeowners Association, Stamford, Connecticut, USA All Rights Reserved.