Design & Style
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Best Ways to Choose Outdoor Furniture

By Jana Voelke Studelska
Published: February 1, 2007
Best ways to choose outdoor furniture
Photo by Rob Marmion,
  • Match or coordinate your furniture to the colors of your cabin’s outdoor trim. It’s easy to match frames as well as cushions.
  • Give chairs, chaises and swings the Tush Test. Lie on them, swing on them, lean on them, sit on them. You and your guests will be spending a lot of time on this furniture, so make sure it feels good.
  • Give it the Heft Test. Will it stay on the deck when summer thunderstorms blow through?
  • On the other hand, if you’re likely to move your furniture around, choose something you can easily wrestle down to the beach for a bonfire or to a feast on the lawn.
  • Look at where you will be setting the furniture. Make sure legs and feet of furniture will be broad enough that they won’t lodge in the cracks on the deck or patio.
  • Does it store easily? If you store your furniture each year, look for the kind that either stacks or breaks down for storage.
  • Cardinal rule of cushion buying: Do not buy anything with a foam core or you’ll be battling mold and mildew within a year. Make sure the core is made of polydacron.



Composite Pros
  • No splinters
  • No warping, splitting or checking
  • Reduced maintenance
  • Uniform appearance
  • Impervious to rot and termites
  • Can be precolored
  • Not slippery
  • Handles direct water contact

Composite Cons

  • For those who love wood – it’s not wood
  • Some stains (food, drink, etc.) can be more stubborn to eliminate
  • Composites with high plastic content require pre-drilling prior to fastening (but so do tropical hardwoods)
  • Cost is higher than for basic pressure-treated lumber
  • Most can’t be used for substructure or support
  • Can scratch


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