Buyer’s guide to outdoor furniture

What type of garden furniture would suit your outdoor space? Take a look at our buyer's guide.

By Becca Green | 19 June 2020

Your choice of outdoor furniture will be influenced by whether you want a durable all-year-round set or something that must be stored in winter.

concrete garden furniture- buyers guide to outdoor furniture - home improvements - granddesignsmagazine.com

Image: Habitat

There’s been a proliferation of garden sofa, lounger, table and chair designs, all aiming to tempt you with a promise of comfortable outdoor living. Timber, metal and rattan are common material options, and now there’s also fibrestone, a lightweight concrete-effect material to consider.

A classic choice

timber bench and seat - buyers guide to outdoor furniture - home improvements - granddesignsmagazine.com

Image: Another Country

Timber’s natural good looks makes it the material of choice for many when it comes to garden furniture, whether as traditional park-style benches and steamer chairs or contemporary, sleek dining tables. Selecting FSC-certified wood from responsibly managed sources or genuine reclaimed timber will ensure peace of mind when it comes to sustainability. Teak, cedar, oak, eucalyptus and the less expensive acacia wood are varieties most often used for outdoor designs.

Louise Golden, gardening expert at Dobbies Garden Centres gives her top tips on what will extend the life of timber furniture.

  • Avoid oiling or sealing new oak as oils tend to make the wood go black and pick up dirt, and sealants sit on the surface, changing the texture of the wood so that it will need frequent maintenance.
  • After hardwood furniture has been left outside for a number of years, the surface grain will have opened up and it will have lost its surface tannins. Replenishing with a suitable furniture oil will help to regain lustre.
  • If the furniture has been neglected and acquired a covering of moss, lichen or algae, scrape it off or use a stiff brush along the grain of the wood and sand down to reveal new timber. Don’t clean with a pressure washer as it’ll strip away some of the wood along with the dirt.
  • When storing over the winter or during bad weather, use good-quality, breathable covers and leave a gap at the bottom so air can circulate. This lessens the chances of mildew and fungi growing.