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Outdoor seating

Outdoor Patio Furniture Buying Guide

The right furnishings will transform your yard into the perfect outdoor entertainment space. This guide outlines the factors you should consider when shopping for outdoor patio furniture sets.
How to Choose Outdoor Patio Furniture

Getting Started

Your outdoor oasis is in sight, but you may be struggling to decide how to furnish your space. After all, there are so many options to choose from and multiple factors to consider. From proper budgeting to the durability of certain materials, there are many components to consider. We've done the hard work for you so you can easily determine the right fit for your outdoor entertaining preferences.


The most important factor to consider is the size of your yard or patio. How much space you have to work with will affect how much outdoor patio furniture you can purchase and how it is arranged. While larger spaces offer ample decorating potential, smaller spaces can still look great with the right pieces. A big backyard should have larger pieces so the space doesn't feel empty; whether that means a large dining set or outdoor sofas and chaise lounges will depend on your entertainment needs. On the other hand, those shopping for smaller areas might seek out furniture that does double duty, whether it's an ottoman with storage or a fire table with a cover so you can eat at it, too. In addition to the square footage, the actual shape of your space will also impact how much furniture you can purchase and the placement of those items.


Consider the climate in which you reside. Are your summers mostly dry without harsh storms? Do you live in a humid climate or somewhere that experiences regular rainfall? It's important to think about the weather where you live before shopping for patio furniture sets. A patio umbrella, for example, will be a must-have in just about every climate because it can shield you from harsh sunlight and also from rain. Lightweight furniture won't fare well in windy climates; instead, opt for heavier items that won't easily blow away and get damaged. Additionally, certain materials fare better in certain weather conditions, which will also affect your decision. If your backyard or patio gets a lot of direct sunlight, you'll want to choose furniture that can withstand the light and heat that comes with such conditions. Wet climates will necessitate furniture made of materials that resist rust and corrosion, whereas intense sunlight will bleach wood chairs and tables.


There are two main factors to consider when deciding on the material of your outdoor patio furniture: durability and cleanability. Your yard should be a place to relax, so try to avoid choosing high-maintenance materials; ideally, you should opt for furniture that is weather-resistant and can easily be wiped down. Powder-coated metal is known for its durability so if you fall in love with a metal patio set, be sure to check that it features that coating. Even when treated with a weather-resistant finish, excess moisture will cause wood to rot. Hot, direct sunlight will drastically reduce the lifespan of plastic or synthetic materials. Of course, another factor to consider is the appearance of certain materials. Whether you're seeking a laid-back lake house vibe or a chic, minimalist feel, different materials lend themselves better to different design preferences.
Outdoor Patio Furniture & Chaise Lounges


Above all else, if you're investing in furniture, it should be comfortable. The easiest way to determine comfort is to shop in-person and sit on some chairs and chaises. Can you comfortably sit, talk, or even eat? Luckily, Abt has patio furniture sets on display in the spring and summer so you can try out some options. If you're unable to test out your furniture before purchasing, look for clear comfort factors like cushions. If you love a set that doesn't come with cushions, be sure they can easily be added to the seating for additional comfort. You can also add pillows to metal pieces or to an outdoor sofa that already has cushions to add both comfort and style. If you want to get the most enjoyment out of your patio, comfort is key.

Purpose (dining, etc.)

You'll also want to think about what your primary intended use is for your outdoor space. If you're a seasoned grill master, having ample dining space is a must. If making s'mores over a crackling bonfire is your favorite summer activity, then investing in a fire pit or fire table should be at the top of your list. Those mainly looking to use their yard as an outdoor living room will mostly have to consider having enough comfortable seating that's conducive to conversation. If outdoor dining is your primary intended purpose, you'll have several additional factors to consider:
  • Table shape: round, oval, square and rectangular dining tables each have their own pros and cons in terms of how many people they can sit and how conducive they are to conversation. Round and square tables are typically better suited for smaller spaces while oval and rectangular pieces fill large patios well.
  • Table design: be conscious of where design features like table legs or support beams are constructed as this will affect seating. If your guests will primarily be eating at this table, they need to be able to sit close to the table.
Alternatively, if your primary purpose is to enhance an outdoor swimming pool, there are separate factors to be aware of:
  • Reclining: most people enjoy sunbathing by the pool or just relaxing outside for a while. Chaise lounges are practically essential if you have a pool.
  • Water resistance: you'll want furniture that can withstand the occasional splash. Wood can rot if not properly treated. If chaise lounges have cushions, they should be made of an absorbent material that won't get moldy.
Yet another popular purpose for a patio is evening entertainment. Outdoor furniture sets with fire pits are ideal because they offer the light and warmth that are needed at night.
  • Temperature: if your fire pit or fire table isn't enough to keep your guests cozy after the sun goes down, consider adding a patio heater to your setup.
  • Seating: fire tables often feature space or a ledge to set drinks or food. Others will have a cover or lid that covers the flame so you can eat during the day and enjoy a bonfire at night.
Outdoor Furniture Sets with Fire Pit


As mentioned, different materials have different aesthetic features. If you're furnishing an outdoor space at a lake house, light-colored wood or Adirondack chairs might be a good fit. Wrought-iron benches are perfect if your garden is the centerpiece of your outdoor space. Again, cushions are a great idea not only for their added comfort but also because they'll allow you to easily switch up the aesthetics of your outdoor space. Go for a tropical print or something more rustic; most importantly, treat your outdoor space as an extension of your indoor space for a truly stylish look.


Of course, you also need to consider how much you're willing and able to spend on your patio furniture. We advise investing where you can as outdoor furniture has to withstand much more wear and tear than indoor furniture; high-quality furniture might cost a bit more but will last you much longer. The amount of furniture you need will also affect your budget. If you have a large space to fill, you might want an outdoor dining set with additional seating for after-dinner drinks and conversation. On the other hand, if your home has a small patio or balcony, you may only have room for a bistro table and chairs, which will inevitably cost less.

In Summary

Whether your guests are enjoying freshly-grilled food or splashing around in the pool, the right decor will ensure your outdoor entertaining experience is a success. The factors above are helpful if you're having trouble where to start and will ensure that you choose the right pieces for your space. If you still have questions, call our experts at 800-860-3577 and be sure to browse our wide selection of outdoor and patio furniture both online and at our Glenview store.