A classic outdoor look that’s weighty enough to stand its ground in windy weather, wrought iron now comes in modern finishes and colors, as well as familiar romantic scrollwork designs. Because of its heft, it’s best suited for outdoor furniture pieces that won’t need to be moved around much. Ideally, it should be stored inside over the winter to guard against rust.
Look for: Powder-coated, UV-resistant finishes; a warranty on the overall structure.
Expert tip: “Purchase touch-up paint when you buy wrought iron,” says Ashleigh Kosin, owner of Bell Tower Outdoor Living Company, an outdoor furniture store in Richland, Michigan. Use it to touch up scratches and problems spots around the seams at the beginning and end of every season to keep rust at bay.
Much of the metal patio furniture available today is made of aluminum, and for good reason: it’s lightweight, doesn’t rust, and is easy to maintain. It is often paired with fabric cushions or built-in easy-clean slings.
Expert tip: Buy an established brand that will stock replacement parts and cushions years down the road, says Kosin. Most likely your frames are going to outlast your cushions so you want to be able to find affordable replacements.
Durable synthetics like marine-grade polymer and plastics made from recycled milk jugs are a great choice for beach climates. Designed to look like painted wood, furniture made with this material is heavy, can be left out in the elements year-round, and never needs painting or sealing.
Look for: UV-stabilizing pigments to reduce color fading.
Expert tip: If you want to save on cushion costs, pay attention to the contouring of the plastic “boards,” says Kosin. And be sure to sit and test for comfort before you buy anything.
Make sure you know what type of wood you’re buying and how to take care of it to prevent splitting, cracking, rotting, or bug infestation.
Look for: Denser types of wood, like teak or eucalyptus; they’re more durable and easier to maintain because they resist water naturally. Other varieties may need to be sealed yearly. Avoid wood furniture that’s been glued.
Expert tip: Want the look and ease of teak at half the price? Kosin recommends shorea wood, which is similar in quality and durability but is much more plentiful and, therefore, cheaper.
5 of 7Thomas J. Story/myhomeideas.com
Whether you want to brighten up an outdated patio set with new cushions, soften hard furniture with throw pillows, or invest in a cushy, couch-like piece, fabric makes everything more comfortable. Cushions can be the most expensive part of a seating set, so choose carefully.
Look for: For cushions and couches, the gold standard is solution-dyed acrylic, which is designed for outdoor use and resists UV rays, moisture, mildew, and staining. Spun polyester with a UV-protective coating dries quickly and is less expensive, but isn’t as resistant to fading.
Expert tip: You’ll get the most life from your cushions if you bring them inside as much as possible. If that doesn’t work for you, Kosin recommends buying the best quality fabric you can afford and choosing cushions with zippers.
Patio umbrellas aren’t just for tables anymore. Freestanding cantilevered umbrellas that can provide shade anywhere—not just over your dining table—are a popular trend right on the patio scene. Plus, they add a touch of color and pattern to a monochromatic space.
Look for: UV-resistant fabric; a strong frame and solid base; a wind vent to keep the umbrella steady on windy days.
Expert tip: Keep safety in mind if you live in windy area. For example, large cantilevered models should have double wind vents.
7 of 7Jonny Valiant/myhomeideas.com
Give your outdoor scene a cozy-side, by layering an area rug that’s built to handle the friendly skies as well as the not-so-pleasant weather conditions. Designed to be water–and stain–resistant, outdoor rugs are also easy to clean: just sweep or hose off and you’re done!
Look for: UV stabilizers to resist fading, recycled plastic.
Expert tip: Look for edges that are sewn to prevent fraying.