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Tips on Buying Outdoor Furniture

Entertaining outside on the patio isn’t what it used to be. Once a modest space has now become an outdoor room – an extension of your indoors, complete with built-in kitchens, fireplaces, and surround sound. And the one thing that completes the picture is outdoor furniture.

A solid build and a comfortable feel are the two most important factors when it comes to patio furniture. It doesn’t matter whether the furniture is high-end or from a “value” super store; if it’s solid and comfortable then you’re good to go.

You can find some great deals in low-end furniture found at super-value stores – just because it’s inexpensive doesn’t mean it’s not built well. You can usually find well made quality construction with even finishes and quality fabrics. A dining table with four chairs will cost anywhere from $300 to $800 vs. the higher end that starts at $1,000 and goes as high as $15,000.

When it comes to outdoor dining tables and chairs you can usually find them sold as sets in patio furniture stores and value stores, though many online companies sell them separately. If you do opt for a set make sure to sit in the chairs and check them for comfort. Make sure the seat is deep enough and the armrests are wide enough. And, while you’re sitting in the chair pull it up to the table and check out the height – does the seat height feel right with the table height? If the chairs are too low or too high you and your guests will not be comfortable for too long, especially while dining.

Another item you should pay attention to is the nuts and bolts – those great doodads that hold the furniture together. Sometimes we get so caught up in the look of the furniture that we forget to inspect the little things. Are the nuts and bolts hidden or capped? Caps are good - they keep moisture away from the screws and bolts. If the fasteners are exposed they should be made of stainless steel otherwise you’ll have a rust problem in the future.

Common materials

  • Steel
  • Cast aluminum
  • Tubular aluminum
  • Synthetic wicker
  • Teak
  • Wrought iron
  • Resin, plastic, vinyl

Best choice: Cast aluminum & tubular aluminum

This is the most cost effective and requires the least maintenance. It’s a great choice for durability and for resisting corrosion; look for pieces that have the special powder coating to prevent rust or you’ll end up with orange puddles underneath your furniture after the first rain. Doesn’t peal or chip, doesn’t need to be periodically painted or stained, and requires only occasional hosing down. Comes in a wide variety of colors and price points.

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