Many newly-independent adults or new homeowners are excited at the prospect of decorating their new homes, especially if they have an outdoor space to enjoy. After all, who doesn’t have that small fantasy of sitting outside enjoying a bright morning with a cup of coffee?
Unfortunately, many people stop short and feel incredulous when they see the price of outdoor furniture.
Suddenly, you’re calculating if the amount of time you’ll spend outside is worth the $200 for that small, 2-seater, matching chair and table set.
Before you decide to just call it a day and sit on a $10 kitchen step-stool, you should find out why patio furniture is so expensive.
Patio furniture is expensive because it is just as big and multi-use as indoor furniture, but it is expected to withstand much harsher conditions, such as rain, sun exposure, pests, wind, and temperature changes. You can spend less on patio furniture made of cheaper materials; however, do not expect it to last as long or look as nice. High-quality patio furniture is typically heavy, sturdy, and made of specific materials. This influences and increases manufacturing and shipping costs.
When you think about the wide variety of outdoor furniture styles and the kind of climate you live in, the prices may seem more understandable. However, there are still nuances between patio furniture prices, based on the size of the set and the material. Keep reading to find out about what goes into patio furniture and what your options are!
- How Is Patio Furniture Different From Indoor Furniture?
- How Much Does Patio Furniture Cost?
- Types Of Materials For Outdoor Furniture
- What Else Do You Need To Buy With Outdoor Furniture?
- Where Should You Buy Your Patio Furniture?
- Final Thoughts
How Is Patio Furniture Different From Indoor Furniture?
Patio furniture, also called outdoor furniture or garden furniture, is furniture manufactured specifically to be placed outside and be weather-resistant. This typically consists of chairs, tables, couches, and loungers. It can come in a variety of materials, colors, and styles.
How Much Does Patio Furniture Cost?
The cost of patio furniture usually depends on how big it is (i.e., how many people it can seat) and what it is made out of.
If you’re looking to buy something for just two people to go on your apartment balcony, a $60 aluminum set might work for you. If you’re looking for a high-end, more permanent fixture to host large groups, you may end up spending over $1,000—especially if it is made out of wood.
If you already know what use you’re expecting out of your patio furniture, then it is best to figure out what materials suite that use and go from there. Keep reading to find out about the benefits and drawbacks of various outdoor furniture materials.
Types Of Materials For Outdoor Furniture
There are four primary categories of outdoor furniture: metal, woven, wood, and plastic. Each category has price ranges that depend on quality and size, and some materials are more high maintenance than others.
There are three types of metals used for patio furniture: aluminum, wrought iron, and galvanized stainless steel. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Aluminum is a lightweight material that is long-lasting as long as you get it with a rust-proof, UV-resistant coating. Cleaning can consist of a soft cloth, but aluminum furniture should never be scrubbed.
One drawback to aluminum furniture is that, depending on the design, you may need water-resistant cushions, which typically do not come with less expensive sets. Another one, is that while aluminum can be one of the cheapest options, sets below $100 are not always weatherproof.
Wrought iron is certainly the most durable and long-lasting material on this list. Cleaning consists of rinsing with the garden hose, and maybe using a soft cloth. The only maintenance needed is just a coat of a matching paint sealant whenever the paint chips or scratches.
This material works best for chair and table sets.
Wrought iron is also one of the heaviest materials, so its durability and weight commonly make it more expensive.
Galvanized Stainless Steel
Galvanized stainless steel is heavy, durable, and long-lasting like wrought iron, but needs a sealing coat to prevent rusting. Steel furniture should not be moved around a lot or scrubbed, and you will likely need to buy water-resistant cushions for comfort.
As far as woven options go, there are rattan and wicker. Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably; however, rattan is technically a material (dried palm frond) and wicker refers to a weaving style.
If you purchase furniture that is traditional or antique rattan or wicker it cannot be used outside! Outdoor furniture labeled as rattan or wicker should not be made from plant material.
Keep reading to learn more about what to expect from patio furniture made out of rattan or wicker.
Outdoor furniture labeled ‘rattan’ is usually made of woven synthetic or recycled plastic material. It is typically bought by people who want some of the benefits of plastic furniture but a nicer look.
A benefit of the artificial material rattan is made from is how it can come in a variety of colors; however, be sure to purchase UV-resistant rattan to avoid the colors fading. Additionally, because rattan is so lightweight, it does not handle bad weather well.
Wicker patio furniture can be woven out of synthetic resin or vinyl material for extra durability, but traditionally it is woven out of plant materials like bamboo, reed, and willow. Just like rattan, if wicker furniture is made of traditional or antique materials it cannot be used outside even if it is sealed.
Fortunately, outdoor furniture labeled as wicker often comes in more natural colors than rattan, so you can get the feel of traditional wicker without ruining it outdoors.
Wood is one of the most popular materials for garden furniture, especially for larger set-ups. It always requires the most maintenance, but many find this to be a fair trade for the general durability and timeless looks. Depending on the style of furniture, you may or may not need furniture cushions.
The top 3 woods for outdoor furniture are:
These softwoods are naturally moisture-wicking and affordable, making them popular choices. However, they will require yearly maintenance to protect them from water damage, pests, and rot.
Why Is Teak So Expensive?
Teak wood is a very popular and pricey tropical wood because it is water-resistant, bug-resistant, and rot-resistant. Additionally, furniture made of teak can be found in two colors: the original golden brown of the wood and the sandy grey of antique teak, both of which are highly in demand. Teak requires special care, and all-purpose wood cleaners and sealants will ruin it.
Plastic Outdoor Furniture
Plastic patio furniture has the benefits of being lightweight, environment-resistant, and easy to maintain. It is also usually easier to find storable plastic furniture than any other type.
If you are beachside, going for a high-end marine polymer would be best, as other materials would be damaged by the salty seawater.
The main downside of polymer and plastic furniture is that it does generally not look as nice as other furniture pieces if its going to be a year-round staple, and once it is superficially damaged there aren’t many ways to fix it.
What Else Do You Need To Buy With Outdoor Furniture?
While it would be convenient to just buy outdoor furniture and be done with it, most furniture sets do not actually come with everything you may want or need while relaxing outside.
Two key pieces that most furniture sets are missing that you may need are cushions and shade.
Does Patio Furniture Normally Come With Cushions?
Typically, patio furniture does not come with cushions unless it is a higher-end set. For nice sets, the frame also tends to outlast the cushions. Due to the need to be weather-resistant, cushions for outdoor furniture tend to be more costly than indoor pillows.
However, if you take care of your cushions by storing them during bad weather or when they’re not in use, this could significantly extend their lifespan.
Does My Outdoor Furniture Set Need Shade?
If you can afford it and don’t already have it, shade is preferable for both the garden furniture and the people enjoying it.
You can create shade in your backyard using a table umbrella, a shade sail, or a canopy.
Shade can help protect your furniture from sun damage and light rain, which could be beneficial for your outdoor furniture in the long run.
Fortunately, shade sales can be found at Walmart or Amazon for as low as $16, so you don’t have to break that bank in order to get the most out of your patio furniture.
Where Should You Buy Your Patio Furniture?
From major furniture stores to the largest online retailer, it can be confusing to figure out where is the best place to buy your furniture.
To help you, I put together a table that compares the top stores: Ashley Homestore, Target, Costco, Walmart, and Amazon. Additionally, I included their “best-selling” bistro set, versus their cheapest bistro set, in order to compare their price ranges and quality.
In case you didn’t know, a bistro set refers to a small table with two chairs—just like one you would with and sip coffee at, at a cafe!
|Best-selling Bistro Set||$364.99||$159.99-169.99||$249.99||$161.32||$189|
|Most Affordable Bistro||204.99||$94.99||$699.97||$80.30-114.43||$57.99|
Best-Selling Bistro Sets
The least expensive best-selling bistro sets were at Target and Walmart. Both sets were marked with 5 stars and had many reviews. Both were polyethylene (PE) resin wicker designs, which were anti-UV damage and weather-resilient. They also both had powder-coated, rust-resistant steel frames.
In fact, a common theme among all of the best-selling bistro sets was that they were made of PE wicker and had either aluminum or steel rust-resistant frames. For the tables, they all had durable glass tops for easy cleaning.
Most Affordable Bistro Sets
The most affordable bistro set was from Amazon—a baby blue, powder-coated, rust-resistant, steel table and chair set. It also received 2.5 stars, so you may want to lower your expectations regarding durability for this purchase.
The second-most affordable bistro set was from Walmart. The price range can be attributed to the color options: white, red, orange, and blue. White was the least expensive and red was the most expensive. It was also made of steel and is weather resistant; however, this set received 4.5 stars and had 64 reviews.
Turns out there is a direct correlation between the cost of patio furniture and its quality—to a degree.
If you want your patio furniture to have timeless style and durability wrought iron or teak are excellent choices. However, wicker with a metal frame is undoubtedly the most popular right now.
When you have wiggle-room in your budget, and you want furniture that is more stylish and high-quality, then a dedicated furniture store, like Ashley Homestore, or Target may be the best choice for you.
If you want patio furniture that is cheaper and more convenient for storage, aluminum or steel are the most ideal.
For affordable furniture, that is possibly intended for short-term use or an apartment patio, Amazon and Walmart are your best choices. Just make sure you check the reviews and ratings before purchase!
The initial cost of outdoor furniture does not include potential maintenance and additions like seat cushions or sun shade, so you may want to keep that in mind while shopping for your garden living space.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a work-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. I have been blogging for the last 5 years. I worked for other mom blogs, did hundreds of product reviews and buyers’ guides. Prior to that, I was a staff accountant at a big accounting firm. Needless to say, researching and numbers are my passion. My goal is to be an informative source for any topic that relates to mom’s life and homemaking.