Building a deck is a lot like building a house. Once it’s finished, the first thing you want to do is furnish it and start enjoying your new acquisition! So where do you start? It depends on your lifestyle! We keep going back to that, but it’s the most important thing to take into consideration how you plan to use your deck when designing, building, and furnishing it.
Things to consider when buying deck furniture:
Most deck owners buy furniture based on whether or not they like the style, color, brand, or size, and most importantly their budget. Those are great things to consider, but here are 9 more:
1. OVERALL SIZE AND ADAPTABILITY OF FURNITURE. How large is your deck vs how big is the furniture set you’re considering? Sure, that couch looks good and will fit along the furthest rail, but can you turn it or reposition it so it fits into a different configuration? Can people get in and out to the seating set without bumping into a table or other seating?
2. MAINTENANCE. Can the cushions on those chairs, and the chairs or couches themselves, be easily cleaned? Will a brush and soap do the trick, or will you need to power wash them? Many people do power wash their deck furniture at the beginning or end of the season, or before a special event (wedding, graduation, party, gathering, etc.). What you want to know is how well the furniture will stand up to repeated washings. Most deck furniture can’t be thrown into a washer or dryer without destroying its integrity. That means you’ll need to hose, scrub, or power wash it. Most furniture does fine with ordinary dishwashing or laundry soap and a good scrub brush followed by a good hosing down. But make sure. Read the labels and check product reviews before buying.
3. ADAPTABLE. Many outdoor furniture sets have removable and/or interchangeable cushions. This lets you remove the cushions in case of bad weather, or to keep them out of the sun when they’re not being used. If you do find furniture with cushions that can’t be removed, or removed easily, you might want to keep looking.
4. IS IT PET, SENIOR, AND KID FRIENDLY? Not everyone who has a deck has either kids or pets. But if you do, is the furniture friendly? If you have small children or pets are there pieces where they could get their heads or other body parts trapped? Are there sharp edges that could cause injury if they ran into them? Can the cushions stand up to the repeated jumping and use of animals and kids playing, sleeping, or using the furniture? If you’re a senior, or have guests or family who are, is the furniture easy to get into and out of? Will it tolerate being leaned on without tipping easily? Are the armrests strong enough to hold the weight of someone relying on them to sit down or stand up?
5. HOT OR NOT? Any furniture sitting in direct sunlight for any period of time is going to be hot to the touch. Metal chairs and seating however, are going to be hot enough to cause serious burns. That’s one reason why wood and wicker are so popular. A simple spray with the hose and they’re ready for sitting in. Metal heats up fast and is slow to release the heat once its hot. Look for furniture with metal that’s not on armrests, or where a bare arm, leg, or hands might rest on a hot spot. A lot of used, or barely used deck and patio furniture is often made of metal and glass that owners found got too hot.
6. USED OR NEW? Many deck owners find they don’t use their furniture, or their needs change. So they sell their current set. You can find great bargains on very gently used deck furniture if you’re patient. But examine each piece carefully for mold, mildew, torn cushions, broken legs, and missing screws or parts. Sit on it. Pick it up. Measure it and compare the measurements to your deck area. What looks great on someone else’s deck might look crowded or lost on your deck. Does the style fit with your style? Do you like the colors? Can it be repainted? Is there rust underneath? Is it going to be easy to maintain? Just because it seems like a bargain, if it’s missing the other features it might not be a deal.
7. CUSHION FOAM. Cushions come in all kinds, types, qualities, and prices. Over time, and when left in the sun, UV rays can break down the rubber in any cushion, even if they’re covered in fabric or a protective vinyl covering. Water can pool in the foam and cause mildew or mold. Many deck owners simply replace the cushions every year, but you don’t have to.
Different types of foam designed for outdoor use have been engineered to do a variety of things. In the marine industry for instance, cushions are designed to float, drain water, prevent mold and mildew, and withstand daily wear. If you’ve got a deck exposed to rain, sun, and daily wear you want to choose foam with attributes that are compatible with the way you plan to use it. Sailrite, a company who sells both fabrics and foam for customers who want to have their cushions made, offers a $19.95 sample box of foam cushions and information on each type of foam so you can find the perfect foam and fabric for your furniture. It’s a great alternative for the deck owner who wants the best for their furniture.
8. WEIGHT. You don’t want the wind blowing your furniture off the deck, but you don’t want to hire a moving crew to move it across the deck either. Find a comfortable range and weight for the furniture, or make sure it has lockable wheels or casters that will allow it to be easily moved.
9. UV RAY RESISTANT. UV rays from the sun will eventually break down the most sun resistant fabrics. Designer fabrics like Outdura, Sunbrella, and Robert Allen are popular for outdoor cushions, but you do have more options – including canvas, duck cloth, Textilene, and Olefin fiber, among others. The outer fabric of your cushions is important, but without the right kind of interior foam, it can only do so much. Choose a fabric that’s water resistant, or waterproof, regardless of where it will be used. Look for fade resistant fabrics so that the sun and rain don’t damage your cushions. If you’re buying pre-made cushions look for the same qualities and check out the manufacturer’s website for more details.