The Patio Furniture Buyer’s Guide
So, you’re ready to start shopping for the perfect patio furniture? That’s great!
Buying high quality patio furniture is the best way to turn your home’s backyard into a beautiful, inviting, and fun outdoor space.
But, you’re probably figuring out pretty quickly that this can be a daunting task. There are so many options to choose from, and surprisingly, a LOT of different materials, brands, styles, and price ranges to consider.
At Patio Productions, we’ve been doing this for over a decade. And collectively, we have over 30 years of experience in the patio industry. We know all the best brands, we talk to the thought leaders in the industry, we even make and customize our own furniture. So we know EXACTLY what kinds of patio furniture you should be shopping for, and what kinds of questions you should be asking.
With that, we wanted to provide our Patio Furniture Buyer’s Guide to our visitors, free of charge. No cost, no e-mail signups. Just the best tips to buying patio furniture! Please note that this guide will be updated periodically.
If you have any more questions about buying outdoor furniture, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
Synthetic, all-weather outdoor wicker is the most popular patio furniture material today, and for good reason. It’s a far cry from real, natural rattan wicker - the stuff you see in a lot of plantation style homes. Natural rattan is better suited to indoor use, where the plant fibers won’t fray and soften. For that rattan look, but with the toughness necessary to withstand year-round outdoor exposure to sun and weather, outdoor wicker is your best bet.
Outdoor wicker goes by many names - synthetic wicker, resin wicker, all-weather wicker, HDPE wicker, and on and on. It’s mostly all the same stuff. Outdoor wicker is a plastic polymer that simulates the look, and often the texture, of real rattan. Because it is made of a versatile plastic, high quality all-weather wickers resist fading in direct sunlight, and are completely waterproof and snowproof.
Some manufacturers sell ‘outdoor wicker’ furniture that uses PVC wicker. This is a much cheaper option, but we do NOT recommend it. PVC turns brittle in direct sunlight and under constant exposure to water and heat, which completely ruins the longevity of your furniture. For patio furniture that lasts, make sure you choose HDPE wicker. HDPE is nonporous, very pliant, and is UV treated to be all but completely fade-proof. It’s also lighter than PVC, so it’s easier to rearrange your furniture!
Among HDPE wickers, you’ll usually encounter one of two scenarios: in the first, the resin wicker is molded, and then dyed to change its color to the brown, white, or gray hues we commonly see. In this case, you get the durability of HDPE wicker, but the dye is a cheaper method of coloring the final product, and is more prone to fading. Additionally, if any of the resin wicker strands are scratched or cut, the inner material color (usually white or off-yellow) will show through.
In the second scenario, the resin wicker is actually molded by creating individual plastic fibers made from a specific color plastic, and these fibers are then molded together into the wicker “strands” you see, which are then woven into a satisfying pattern over the furniture frame. This process is much more time consuming and results in a more expensive product, but it also means that if you ever scratch your wicker patio furniture, the ‘inner color’ will be uniform with the outer color throughout. Also, this style of HDPE wicker is particularly fade-proof, because the material is not superficially dyed. The color you see is the actual color of the material itself.
As far as maintenance goes, keeping your synthetic wicker in top shape is as easy as can be. It is by far the most “set and forget” of the common outdoor furniture materials. All you need to do to keep it in perfect shape is to just wash it down with a damp cloth and a light application of dish-soap from time to time. This high level of convenience is, in our opinion, the best selling point of synthetic wicker over other patio furniture materials.
Key things to look for when you’re shopping for synthetic wicker furniture:
- Made from HDPE, and not PVC
- Heavy Gauge aluminum frames, avoid steel and iron frames
- Minimal assembly required - frames that are welded in a factory are stronger and longer-lasting than frames that need to be screwed together by the end user.
Overall, resin wicker is a great choice for your patio furniture. It is:
- comfortable, even without cushions
- weather resistant
- kid and pet friendly
- very customizable - available in a broad range of styles, patterns, colors, and thicknesses
For a more thorough guide to purchasing outdoor wicker furniture, please click the link below:
Aluminum is currently the most popular metal for patio furniture. Aside from being a common frame material for outdoor wicker and wood patio sets, cast aluminum furniture is also a popular option for the ‘wrought iron’ look without the wrought iron price.
Aluminum is lightweight, easy to care for, and all but completely rust-proof - it is by far the most weather resistant of the metals.
Aluminum is fairly easy to work into various shapes and styles, leaving the consumer with a lot of aesthetic options to choose from. Cast aluminum can be shaped into almost any form, in a process similar to the wrought iron shaping method.
There are essentially two types of aluminum outdoor furniture: extruded aluminum, and cast aluminum. “Extruded” aluminum is hollow, whereas cast aluminum is solid. Extruded aluminum is shaped by hand or by a machine, whereas cast aluminum is poured into a mold. The main qualitative differences between the two are:
- extruded aluminum is lighter, but also more prone to denting and bending
- cast aluminum is heavier, but also sturdier
- cast aluminum allows for more detailed, intricate shapes and patterns
- extruded aluminum tends to be less cost-prohibitive
Both are perfectly viable options, so long as you are aware of the differences. And again, make sure that any aluminum patio furniture you are looking to buy is powder-coated to maximize its lifespan and its resistance to inclement weather.
Caring for aluminum furniture is relatively easy. Aluminum does not rust, though it does oxidize in the presence of high salt content and other pollutants, so if you live near a coast or in a high-pollution area you may need to clean and care for your aluminum furniture more frequently. As long as the aluminum is powder-coated, a lot of these averse effects are mitigated anyway. One to three times per year, we recommend wiping down your aluminum furniture with a damp, non-abrasive cloth. No soap or sealer necessary. You can just hose it off as well, but you risk missing some of the dirt that may have accumulated on the frame over time.
Overall, aluminum is a great choice for your patio furniture. It is:
- very strong
- rustproof and weather resistant
- very easy to clean and care for, provided it is powder-coated
- beautiful - cast aluminum allows for all sorts of creative styles, and even extruded aluminum sets can be pretty sleek and unique
For a more thorough guide to purchasing aluminum patio furniture, please click the link below:
Wrought iron is the oldest patio furniture material in this guide. For centuries, wrought iron has been used for tools, machines, and furniture. It is one of the toughest and most durable metals, and it can be shaped or molded into all sorts of beautiful shapes. Most wrought iron furniture is molded by machines these days, though if you want hand-hammered iron furniture, you can still find that in many boutique workshops.
When comparing the two major patio furniture metals, wrought iron tends to be more expensive than aluminum. It is also heavier and sturdier, making it less prone to denting and less likely to be blown around in high winds.
Unlike aluminum furniture though, wrought iron is NOT rust proof. It requires more attention and maintenance. But if you are willing to put the time into keeping it clean and cared for, your wrought iron furniture will truly last a lifetime. Plus, while cast aluminum molding methods make it so aluminum furniture can be quite ornate and beautiful, there’s just something about genuine wrought iron garden furniture that can’t be denied - it is the original “fancy furniture” material and it still looks timeless.
Caring for wrought iron furniture is a bit more complicated than aluminum, but taking the extra time and effort will reward you in the long run. Once per year, ideally prior to the rain season, you will want to wipe your wrought iron furniture with a damp non-abrasive towel and diluted dish soap, and then seal the furniture with applied spray wax. Thoroughly waxing your wrought iron furniture is essential to protect it from rain damage and rust.
While we tend to prefer aluminum for its convenience, wrought iron is a great choice for your patio furniture. It is:
- the most durable outdoor metal on the market
- GREAT for windy areas
- very beautiful and ornate - a classic, artisanal look
- with proper maintenance, it will outlast most other materials
For a more thorough guide to purchasing wrought iron furniture, please click the link below:
Nothing completes the look of your patio quite like some gorgeous patio umbrellas. These classic accessories offer ample shade and style to your poolside or your outdoor dining area.
There are two essential types of umbrellas: market umbrellas and cantilever umbrellas. Market umbrellas are the classic “pop up” umbrellas, where the shade is centered perfectly over the pole. Many of these feature ‘auto tilt’ functionality so you can change the angle and direction of the shade. Cantilever umbrellas feature shades that are hung on a lever arm that extends out from an off-set pole, which allows for lots of versatility in umbrella positioning.
Market umbrellas are most common as accessories for patio dining tables, as many tables feature an umbrella cutout in the center that allows the market umbrella to evenly shade the whole table. Cantilever umbrellas are better for sofa sets and poolside loungers, as you can shade a large area without having to work around a pesky centered umbrella pole.
Generally, cantilever umbrellas are more expensive, but also feature more versatility in how they can be set up. Market umbrellas are not only more affordable, but are also easier to store out of the way when not in use.
No matter which type you choose, make sure that the umbrella fabric is made from a marine-grade material. This will ensure that your umbrella is fade resistant and weatherproof, allowing it to last a lifetime and look great the whole way through!
The key takeaways for purchasing outdoor umbrellas are:
- Make sure the umbrella canvas is made from a quality marine-grade fabric (we recommend Sunbrella brand above all others) for optimal weather resistance
- Your umbrella base is a key, but often overlooked, component. Choose a sturdy, heavy base - we recommend 100lbs at a minimum for market umbrellas, but base weights vary with umbrella size and how windy your region is
- More than pretty much any other outdoor accessory, with umbrellas, you get what you pay for. Consider allocating more budget here than to other accessories
For a more thorough guide to purchasing outdoor umbrellas, please click the link below:
It’s no secret that a cool and cozy patio can do wonder for a business’s bottom line. Got a restaurant with a scenic view? A hotel with a really awesome pool? A shopping mall with plenty of open-air spaces? The right patio furniture will help keep your customers engaged with your business, make them spend more time in your establishment, and lead to even more stellar reviews that will draw in all new clientele.
Buying for a commercial project, though, can be a daunting task. It requires a lot of industry insider knowledge and logistical savvy to complete quickly and confidently. Many vendors who sell to “commercial clients” are actually just drop-shippers who know the brands well, but aren’t actually involved at all in the fulfillment aspect of the purchase. Patio Productions is different.
For nearly a decade we have personally supplied hotels, restaurants, resorts, boutiques, shopping malls, and even stadiums with the highest-quality commercial outdoor furniture at very reasonable wholesale rates. We guarantee timely delivery, great pricing and durability that can withstand the abuses of high-volume commercial use. How do we do this, when those ‘other guys’ can’t? Because we aren’t just drop-shippers with close connections to many of the biggest brands. We also warehouse most of our own furniture and diligently manage our own inventory, and we also manage all of the shipping, delivery, and fulfillment logistics of any order from start to finish. We work closely with our clients, make suggestions, verify stock or offer alternatives, and then set up all of the deliverables so you, our valued commercial customer, will barely have to lift a finger. Let us do all the heavy lifting, and you can focus on other facets of your business.
Whether you are looking for modern, traditional, or just looking for design ideas, give PatioProductions.com a call and tell us about your commercial outdoor furniture needs!
To complete your patio furniture, you’ll need outdoor-grade cushions and throw pillows. And no brand is better at outdoor cushions and throw pillows than Sunbrella, the leader in marine-grade fabrics for all sorts of outdoor applications, from umbrellas to yacht covers.
Sunbrella fabrics are available in several grades, each with their own unique qualities (weight, durability, color saturation, and more), but they all share in common an enviable longevity that puts most other fabrics to shame. Learn how our colorful selection of over 400 unique Sunbrella fabrics can improve the appearance, durability, and value of your outdoor patio furniture.
Editor’s Note: at this time, we are revamping our brand catalogs. We are cutting out older ones and replacing them systematically, in the meantime we have an old catalog as a place holder. For questions about specific products and brands, please contact us.
View our newest and most exciting patio furniture for sale from all your favorite manufacturers! These featured catalogs are scrollable PDF documents featuring rich images and clickable links to learn more about the products themselves. See what each brand has to offer, and get inspired to design your own backyard escape!
Copyright 2018, Patio Productions
Last Updated 11/14/2018