Guide | Outdoor Seating & Patio Chairs

How to Choose Outdoor Seating & Patio Chairs

With outdoor living never more popular, there are practically endless seating solutions and smart options to suit your exterior spaces. Ideally, you'll be able to find the perfect outdoor seating and patio chairs based on the following guidelines we've shared below.

Whether gathering around a backyard fire pit on a winter's night or throwing a summertime deck party, most of us love spending time outdoors.  Outdoor seating and patio chairs provide comfort and convenience for any of the outdoor activities you like to do in your living and dining spaces on the patio, veranda, terrace, deck, or balcony. Let's explore all the possibilities.

What materials are used to make outdoor seating?

Harsh elements and inclement weather can wreak havoc on your outdoor areas. As such, it is of utmost importance to make sure you choose furniture that is made to stand up to being outside continuously. 

Luckily, there is a myriad of durable and long-lasting materials used to make outdoor seating and patio chairs so the furniture withstands exposure to rain, sun, wind, and other harsh elements. Outdoor furniture is typically made of the following:

  • Aluminum: The most popular material used to create contemporary outdoor seating. It is lightweight, long-lasting, and easy to maintain. Available in a wide range of finishes.

  • Resin Wicker: Unlike natural wicker, resin is a waterproof synthetic material that is also fade-resistant and mold/mildew resistant. It looks like natural wicker and comes in a variety of natural and neutral finishes. It comes in contemporary and traditional styles.

  • Wood: A classic choice for outdoor seating made of dense hardwoods including teak, mahogany, pine, cedar, and oak. Wood withstands high temperatures and humidity.Comes in a plethora of stain, finish, and color options. Choose from all décor styles from modern to rustic.

  • Concrete: The hardiest of the materials used to make outdoor seating, it can stand up to any outdoor elements. Concrete is prone to chipping and cracking if not taken care of properly. It is traditionally the heaviest of the outdoor materials, but new technology and mixing compounds have resulted in some lightweight designs. Décor styles run the spectrum from extravagantly ornate to sleek contemporary.

  • Wrought Iron: Historically used to create traditional style outdoor seating with ornate detailing and ample use of scrolls. Today, iron is used for contemporary seating as well. Luxurious, long-lasting, and available in practically endless finish options. It is durable, strong, and heavy. Moderate maintenance is required.

  • Plastic: The most inexpensive and lightweight material used for outdoor seating. Some plastics are prone to fading, chipping, cracking, and, thus, are not long-lasting in outdoor settings. Alternately, substantially made polyurethane chairs are treated and made to stand up to the elements.Typically, made in contemporary designs.

Black Blue Classic Resin Outdoor Chair
Gray Classic Solid Wood Patio Dining Chair
Black Modern Plastic Dining Chair
Black Traditional Metal Patio Chair
Black Modern Concrete Outdoor Bench
Gray Modern Aluminum Patio Sectional Chair

What kind of outdoor furniture lasts the longest?

Wrought iron outdoor seating and patio chairs provide the most durable and long-lasting option. They are typically higher priced than other materials but can last decades if used and cared for properly.

What type of outdoor seating will be right for me?

As with interior seating, outdoor seating options follow suit running the gamut from full living room sets to dining room chairs. Each type of seating below can be found in every design style, including traditional, transitional, contemporary, modern, minimalist, rustic, country, eclectic, and many more.

  • Outdoor Sofas. Terrific for those who love to entertain and have enough room for a large outdoor living room. Made in wood, wrought iron, aluminum, and resin wicker.
Brown Contemporary Wicker Sectional Patio Sofa
Gray Modern Rattan Patio Sofa
Light Brown Modern Solid Wood Outdoor Sofa
Brown Modern Rattan Patio Sofa
Gray Blue Modern Wicker Sectional Patio Sofa
Gray Blue Classic Rattan Outdoor Sofa
  • Outdoor Loveseats. Ideal for those who have moderate size outdoor space on a deck or patio. Comes in compact sizes to fit a terrace or balcony as well. Made in wood, wrought iron, aluminum, and resin wicker.
Gray Classic Solid Wood Loveseat
Brown Modern Solid Wood Outdoor Loveseat
White Blue Modern Metal Loveseat
White Classic Metal Weather Resistant Loveseat
Brown Traditional Solid Wood Loveseat
Brown Classic Wicker Patio Loveseat
  • Lounge Chair. For those who love to relax in the sunshine or under the stars, a lounge chair is the ultimate seating option. Made in wood, wrought iron, aluminum, and resin wicker.
Brown Traditional Wicker Teardrop Patio Chair
Gray Modern Metal Swivel Lounge Chair
Brown Traditional Rattan Patio Chair
Brown Classic Resin Outdoor Chair
Red Stylish Metal Patio Chair
White Elegant Wicker Outdoor Chair
  • Adirondack Chair. This lounge chair sits low to the ground with a swayed back and wide arms. It is a terrific choice for lounging on the lawn. Typically made from sturdy plastic or wood in natural finish or painted in bright colors or plastic.
Brown Classic Plastic Folding Adirondack Chair
White Plastic Folding Adirondack Chair
Dark Blue Plastic Resin Adirondack Chair
Yellow Classic Plastic Adirondack Chair
Black White Modern Wicker Adirondack Chair
Red Classic Solid Wood Adirondack Chair
  • Porch Swing. A classic choice for those who love to while away the afternoon on the porch. Today's swings come in an exciting range of designs from bed swings to sofa swings.
Brown Classic Solid Wood Porch Swing
Brown Simple Solid Wood Proch Swing
Brown Modern Solid Wood Porch Swing
  • Glider. For those who enjoy motion seating, an outdoor glider will undoubtedly bring joy. They come in wood and wrought iron designs.
Brown Contemporary Solid Wood Glider Bench
Blue Modern Steel Glider Bench
Black Modern Manufactured Wood Glider Chair
  • Picnic Bench. Another timeless choice, a picnic table with bench seating, makes a wonderful family gathering spot on the deck, patio, or under a tree in the backyard. They are commonly made of wood.
Brown Classic Wooden Picnic Bench
Brown Contemporary Wooden Picnic Bench
Brown White Modern Wooden Picnic Bench
Black Classic Plastic Picnic Bench
Light Brown Modern Bamboo Picnic Bench
  • Dining or Patio Chairs. A must-have for every outdoor space, dining armchair, and side chairs provide seating for dining and resting outdoors. They come in every style and material noted above. They often come in a set with two, four, or six chairs and a table for convenience.
Black Classic Metal Patio Dining Chair
White Classic Plastic Dining Chair
Brown Modern Solid Wood Adirondach Patio Chair
Gray Classic Solid Wood Outdoor Dining Chair
White Modern Resin Dining Chair
Brown Stylish Wooden Folding Patio Dining Chair
  • Storage Seating. Some outdoor seating comes with handy storage inside, such as outdoor benches and ottomans. These designs can offer a spot to store seat cushions and other items you don't want to leave out in the elements.

Do Patio Chairs and Uutdoor Seating Always Come With Cushions?

It depends on the manufacturer. If they do, they are usually standard cushions with limited color and fabric selection. If they do not come with cushions, then the manufacturer will often offer cushion options in different materials and colors made specifically for your seating.

Otherwise, you will need to search for cushions online to fit the measurements of your chairs or outdoor seating. Be sure the cushions you choose are made for outdoor use and treated to be waterproof, fade-proof, and mildew/mold resistant.

What Are the Best Outdoor Cushion Fabrics? 

There are some outdoor fabrics that are better than others in terms of longevity and durability. Determine where you will be using your cushions and if you will be leaving them out in the elements for periods of time.

  • Polypropylene/Olefin Fiber: Durable, synthetic material stands up to the harshest elements of sun, wind, rain, and snow. Waterproof, fade-proof, and resistant to stains, mold and mildew. Comes in a wide variety of patterns and colors. Best outdoor cushion fabric for all types of situations, in and out of harsh elements.
  • PVC Mesh: Durable, breathable, manmade material. Ideal for pool furniture and furniture left out in humid tropical areas.
  • Marine Vinyl: Strong, durable, man-made. Retains heat making it sticky and hot in warmer months. Comes in varied solid colors and patterns. Not well suited for outdoor cushions.
  • Canvas/Duck Cloth: Highly durable, common for outdoor furniture. Available in ranges of color/patterns. Best for use in covered areas where cushions will not be exposed to the elements continuously.
  • Cotton: A popular choice for outdoor upholstery and cushions. Cotton can be easily washed and is cool and comfortable. However, it is prone to mildew and mold. Best for temporary outdoor use. Store these cushions in water-tight storage when not in use.
  • Solution-Dyed Acrylic: Durable, synthetic material. Resists mildew, mold, and fading. Soft to the touch. Sold in ranges of colors and patterns. Good for temporary and long-term use outdoors. (Brand name: Sunbrella)

What's the Best Type of Filling for Your Outdoor Cushions?

Typically, the most comfortable and resilient cushions are constructed with a high density quick dry foam core. This foam is ideal for outdoor use because it easily drains any excess water and dries quickly after.

Polyurethane foam is also comfortable, durable, and resistant to mildew. However, it is best used on outdoor seating that is kept out of the elements.

Polyester fiber fill is the least expensive yet is least comfortable and durable too. It tends to break down in a short period of use and results in a flat or lumpy cushion.

A 4 inches to 4 ½ inch foam core cushion thickness is the most comfortable for outdoor seating and will remain resilient over long periods of use

Top Tips for Choosing Outdoor Seating & Patio Chairs

  1. Consider how your outdoor space will function (relaxing or dining?)
  2. If comfort is top on your list, be sure to sit on the chairs or sofa before purchasing.
  3. Choose low-maintenance materials to keep things easy.
  4. If you have lots of stuff you use outdoors, consider dual-purpose storage furniture pieces.
  5. Quality over trendiness is always preferable for saving money and enjoy your seating for years to come.
  6. Be sure if you have a brick patio or deck that the chairs you choose will not fall through the cracks or be unstable.

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