Garden furniture buying guide

Choose your garden furniture wisely and look after it well, and you can enjoy relaxing outdoors for years to come. Read our guide on outdoor garden furniture size, material and care needs before you buy to make sure you settle on the best for your family’s needs.

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Choose garden furniture to suit your garden

It doesn’t matter how big or small your outdoor space is, you can transform it into an outdoor room with the right garden furniture.

Small patio, balcony or side return: Look for compact bistro sets, slimline outdoor furniture and items that can be folded away.

Medium-sized patio or wooden deck: Consider a round table and chairs set or an extending dining table for when you have friends and family around.

Large patio or paved area: Think about creating different areas in your garden: perhaps a large table and chairs set in an ‘eating area’ then an outdoor sofa, sunbeds or even a hammock in a ‘lounging area’.

Choose what your garden furniture is made of

Outdoor garden furniture comes in a variety of styles, colours and materials, from purse-friendly plastic to durable solid wood. Each has its own benefits:

Wooden furniture

Pros: Long-lasting, comfortable, traditional look that blends into your garden and doesn’t get as hot in sunny weather as other materials. Wooden furniture is made to endure all types of weather, is easy to clean with simple soap and water, and is stable in windy conditions. Hardwoods, such as teak, have increased durability because of high oil content. Where possible we sell responsibly sourced wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) look for the logo on products and packaging.

Cons: Wooden furniture will require regular treatment to keep it in tip-top condition if leaving outdoors all year around.

Metal aluminium furniture

Pros: Low-maintenance, long-lasting, tubular designs are lightweight and easy to move around. Metal aluminium furniture can endure all weathers, and come in lots of contemporary colours and styles.

Cons: It can bend or dent it not handled carefully and can blow away in storms as is lighter weight than wooden or metal wrought iron, so you may need to store it away over the winter. You’ll need to use cushions for comfort.

Metal wrought iron furniture

Pros: Low-maintenance, long-lasting and heavy, so metal wrought iron is ideal for windy or exposed areas. It comes in various intricate designs for a classic or traditional look.

Cons: Metal wrought iron can rust over time, so look for designs that are powder-coated and/or rust-retardant. You’ll need to use cushions for comfort.

Rattan- and wicker-effect furniture

Pros: Durable, lightweight and easy to move, comfortable for lounging, rattan-effect furniture provides a natural look and the open-weave design won’t unravel or fray. It looks good indoors in a conservatory as well as outdoors.

Cons: Colour can fade in direct sunlight and it needs to be put away in the winter. Rattan-effect furniture can also be bulky and take up more space in your garden.

Plastic furniture

Pros: Great value, comes in lots of different colours, is low maintenance, easy to clean and lightweight, so can be stacked or moved around easily.

Cons: While being lightweight is a good thing when moving plastic furniture around, it also means it can be blown around if windy. It also can get very hot in direct sunlight and may crack if it warms up and cools down too often.

Care for your garden furniture

Wooden furniture

Wooden furniture should be treated as soon as you buy it to increase its lifespan. Hardwoods, such as teak and acacia, are rich in natural oils, which prevent water getting into the wood. However, if you want stop the colour of your hardwood furniture fading, you should treat it with a protective stain or oil. Softwoods, including pine and cedar, must be regularly protected from UV rays, which can weather them, and water, which can split them.

Choose oil to nourish your wooden furniture if you want a more natural finish and don’t mind re-applying the oil every six months to a year. Stains provide a deeper colour and opaque finish to your wooden furniture that will change the natural appearance of your wood but you won’t have to re-apply them as often. They give a greater level of protection than oil and some stains only need to be re-applied every three years.

Metal aluminium furniture

Metal aluminium furniture is low maintenance because it doesn't rust. Consider a powder-coated range, which is weatherproof and scratch-resistant. Clean with warm soapy water if needed.

Metal wrought iron furniture

Look for designs that have been powder-coated to protect against rust. You can also treat with an anti-rust solution.

Rattan and wicker-effect furniture

Wipe with a damp cloth. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or pressure washers. Keep out of direct sunlight to avoid fading and store away over winter.

Plastic furniture

If you have one, use a pressure hose or pressure washer to get rid of stubborn dirt on plastic garden furniture. A leaf blower will quickly clear fallen debris. Wipe plastic garden furniture with a damp cloth before use.

Don’t forget the garden furniture extras

Once you've bought your outdoor garden furniture, a few accessories will complete the look:

Parasols/garden umbrellas: Parasols/garden umbrellas are ideal for creating instant shade in a sunny spot, and keeping your food and guests cool. Can be bought separately or as part of your garden set. If your table doesn't have a hole in the centre, look for a freestanding cantilever parasol with its own base.

Lighting: Whether it's twinkling tealights in lanterns or solar-powered marker lights, the right lighting will create ambience and allow you to use your garden into the evenings.

Cushions: Get comfy and add a splash of colour or pattern with some removable chair cushions.

Covers: If you don't have a shed or garage to store your garden furniture in, it's well worth buying a waterproof cover to protect it from the winter elements. Choose a cover designed for the size of furniture you have for maximum protection and a snug fit.

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