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 -

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 -

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. 

Woven designs

rattan gardenset - buyers guide to outdoor furniture - home improvements -

Image: Dobbies Garden Centres 

Much rattan furniture is made from synthetic materials, such as high-density polyethylene or PVC. HDPE rattan replicates the real thing effectively without looking plasticky and has a more natural look than the PVC or polyurethane versions. Synthetics such as these have the benefit of being both waterproof and UV-resistant. Look for designs where the rattan has been wrapped around a strong aluminium frame rather than being secured with nails that are liable to rust. Lightweight and easy to rearrange or store away, this furniture is low maintenance and can be left outside all winter if covered to protect the surface from dirt and moss.

Modern composite

concrete garden furniture- buyers guide to outdoor furniture - home improvements -

Image: Habitat 

Planters made with fibrestone are commonplace, but this concrete effect, lightweight material is also being used for garden furniture. It’s a durable composite made from polyester resin, ground stone and fibreglass. The surface can be textured or smooth and looks heavy, like concrete, but it’s relatively lightweight. Suitable for outdoor use in good weather, fibrestone furniture needs to be stored under cover during heavy downpours and throughout the winter.

Upholstered furniture

black rattan furniture - buyers guide to outdoor furniture - home improvements -

Image: Garden Trading

High-performance outdoor fabrics made from tough and long-lasting acrylic are completely eee waterproof so cushions can be left outside all season. Weatherproof cushions aren’t waterproof but can shrug off a light summer shower and then dry out in the sunshine. Do bring them inside during heavy rain to prevent the inner becoming saturated and mouldy. Check fabrics are stain and fade-resistant and also consider sofas and chairs that have removable washable covers.



Are you planning a garden renovation project? Let us know by tweeting us @granddesigns or posting a comment on our Facebook page



How to successfully landscape a garden

5 design-led items to add to your garden

Garden walls and fences: what you need to know

Kevins Column

Top self build highlights at Grand Designs Live 2019 hosted by Kevin McCloud

Find top experts, specialist exhibitors and a wealth of inspiration for your self-build or renovation project all under one roof.
Home Improvements

How virtual reality can change the way you renovate or build

Get peace of mind when you use VT technology to explore your next home renovation before it has even been ordered.
Home Improvements

Pocket doors: what are the benefits of an Eclisse system?

Pocket doors slide into gaps in the wall, saving you floor space and helping to make the most of your home. Find out how they...
Home Improvements

Discover the next generation of shower toilets

Shower toilets have come of age with the appliance of science – the latest are app-controlled, hygienic and blend seamlessly into modern homes.
Home Improvements

How to commission a bespoke dining table

Want your dream dining table for your home renovation? Then commission it yourself. Here's what you need to know.
Home Improvements

Designer radiators: Interior tips for choosing the right style

There are plenty of options to consider when buying a designer radiator. Our buyer’s guide looks at the hottest trends for 2021.
Home Improvements

Design the perfect kitchen with colour-matched worktops and sinks

Kitchen worktops are the finishing touch of any modern kitchen. Discover a range that meld technological advances with great looks.