Garden Furniture Buying Guide: Materials and Key Features
The sun’s out, a barbecue’s on the horizon and you’re ready to relax – cue some comfy and stylish garden furniture. To help you determine which sort is best for you, we’ve put together a garden furniture buying guide with everything you need to know, from materials and types to everything in between.
What to look for in outdoor furniture
Before you begin, there are some key things you need to think about. Your answers may influence which material or type of furniture you go for, helping you decide which one is best for you.
What and where is it for?
Consider the main use of your furniture – will it be mainly for entertaining or for relaxing? For the conservatory, outside or both? If you’ll be moving it around a lot you’ll need to bear the weight in mind, and if it’s mainly for relaxation you could look for features such as reclining functions on chairs. Some chairs even swivel to help you chat more easily to friends.
How much maintenance are you willing to do?
Some materials require little to no maintenance, whereas others need a bit more TLC. You might need to invest in a couple of care products and spend a bit of time on your furniture once a year, or you may simply need to wipe it clean with a cloth. So keep an eye out for the most suitable materials.
Do you need to save space?
If you’re short on space, you don’t necessarily need to buy a smaller set. Some furniture is multifunctional, such as benches that feature an in-built storage box underneath. Others are compact and stackable, letting you store the table within the chairs to save storage space.
What’s the best material for garden furniture?
The timeless traditional choice, wooden garden furniture always looks beautiful. It adds a natural charm to your outside space and comes in various types. Common types of hardwood used are acacia, eucalyptus and teak, with the latter needing the least amount of upkeep. Boasting a straight grain, this dense wood has a high oil content, which means it won’t warp over time. It’s also more water-resistant than other woods, helping to prevent against rot. However, whatever type of wood your furniture is made from, it will have almost invariably been given a weather-resistant treatment to help prevent rot and lengthen its lifespan. To keep it in top condition, however, you will need to treat it once a year.
It’s also good to know how the wood has been sourced. If it’s FSC-certified, it’s been sustainably sourced from well-managed forests and approved by the Forest Stewardship Council – an important factor to bear in mind for the protection of the planet.
Sturdy and easy to maintain, metal garden furniture can look both classic and contemporary, and comes in a variety of colours. The most common metals are aluminium and steel; the former is lightweight, easy to move around and doesn’t rust, whereas steel is stronger, heavier and can rust. It’s common for steel to have a powder coating, which is more resistant to chipping, fading and wearing than other finishes. It’s also rust-proof, though if it does get chipped it can rust in that area.
Lightweight and long-lasting, rattan garden furniture can be used in gardens, patios and conservatories – or even all three as it’s easy to move around. It’s also highly weather-resistant so it’ll withstand both rain and UV light without fading in colour. When it comes to taking care of it, all it needs is a quick wipe down now and then, or a wash with soapy water (do this by hand rather than with a hose to avoid damage) so it’s very easy to maintain. Made of high quality resin – a man-made material – it comes in two main types:
• Round/half round weave – This is the more luxurious option with a more traditional look.
• Flat weave – This type is more modern and tends to be cheaper.
Plastic garden furniture is hard-wearing and much of our range is made from recycled plastic to help you shop more sustainably. Lightweight and easy to maintain, it simply needs a wipe down with soapy water every so often to keep it looking good.
Some of our recycled plastic sets are incredibly sustainable, such as the LifestyleGarden® Nassau Bistro Set featuring Social Plastic®: it’s 100% recycled material and improves the lives of people in developing countries. Collectors receive digital tokens for the plastic they collect, which can be used for basic family necessities, like groceries, cooking fuel, school tuition and more. If you like the sound of bringing about a circular, ethical economy, you can find this stunning furniture on our website in four colourways: Coral Sand, Peony, Sage Green and Honey.
What type do you need?
We offer small bistro sets and larger garden dining sets for big groups, and even extendable tables like this FSC wooden one for greater versatility. You might even want one with a fire pit in the centre so you can stay outdoors for longer, or perhaps a parasol hole for hotter days. As for the shape, square and rectangular tables are good for squeezing a few more people in, while round tables a great for smaller groups as you can see and talk to each other more easily. Look out for tempered glass tabletops too, which are thick to withstand weight and knocks, and easy to wipe clean.
Choose from the traditional garden bench, a multifunctional storage bench, companion seat with a table in the centre, or relaxing hammock. You could also opt for a swing chair or arbour if you want your seat to be a great feature. If you’d rather lie back in the sun, you could of course go for a sun lounger, or even a day bed – a larger, more luxurious type of seat that often comes with a canopy.
Kids’ garden furniture
We stock a huge range of outdoor play products, from swings and sandpits to impressive climbing frames and hideaway houses. Our Plum range offers some fantastic quality products that engage children with the outdoors to get them learning as well as playing.
Which accessories should you buy?
Add a parasol to your dining table to shade you from the sun, or extend your time outdoors with an illuminating garden parasol.
- Outdoor heaters
- Protective covers
Help your furniture stay looking good by shielding it from the elements with a protective cover.
Add some extra comfort to your time outdoors with some quality garden cushions.
How do you care for your outdoor furniture?
As well as using covers to protect your furniture (see above), it’s important to treat it and care for it properly to extend its lifespan. Find out how best to maintain it with our useful guide about how to care for your garden furniture, or head straight to our range of garden furniture protection products.