Women's Web reports that Americans will spend more time in their backyards this summer than anywhere else, and are looking for innovative party ideas beyond the average barbecue. Outdoor furniture is now as important as the grill. There is a host of options when shopping for the perfect set.
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Outdoor or patio furniture serves the same function as interior furniture--it provides an outdoor space for dining and hosting, relaxing, and enjoying family and friends.
Backyards and Gardens classifies patio furniture into the following types:
Teak -- A rich, warm wood that is durable, but requires regular maintenance and care.
Wrought Iron -- Durable and virtually maintenance-free, it is heavy and can withstand strong winds.
Metal -- Much like wrought iron; maintenance is minimal.
Aluminium -- More lightweight than metal, but also less expensive while achieving a similar look.
Wicker -- Classic; requires a high level of care and maintenance, and may not provide the longevity of other types.
Resin -- Durable, easy to clean and dries fast; can provide the look of wicker at a much smaller price.
Plastic -- The least expensive type; more concerned with function than style.
Fabric used on outdoor furniture differs from indoor furniture because of its direct exposure to the elements. Sun fades fabric and rain-soaked cushions can harbour mould and mildew. Fabric made of acrylic will hold up to the external elements much longer than cotton-based materials. For poolside furniture, Backyards and Gardens recommends fabric that is waterproof and protected against chlorine.
The following styles of patio sets and pieces are designed to create a mood in an outdoor space:
Conversation -- Similar to an indoor living area, matching chairs, sofas and love seats, coffee tables and end tables.
Bistro -- Two chairs and a small table, traditionally made of wrought iron.
Dining -- At least five pieces (table and four chairs), but is available with more seating. It's designed for full dining.
Lounge/chaise -- Sits close to the ground, with upper body support and full-length lower body support. Designed for sunbathing.
Bar -- High table, usually with storage space underneath, and barstools or bar-height chairs
The biggest thing to consider when shopping for outdoor furniture and cushions is weather. For rainy areas, choose furniture that specifies it can hold up to this environment and is resistant to mould and mildew. For particularly windy locales, look for heavy pieces with a durable finish, as debris can harm paint and finishes.
The sun can quickly fade fabrics, especially those with vibrant colours. Look for UV protection on labels and consider furniture covers for cold-weather months.
With shows like HGTV's "The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie," the outdoor living space is becoming increasingly popular. According to Construction Week Online, homeowners demand outdoor furniture that is not only functional, but also expresses the style seen inside the home.
Rattan, melamine and polycarbonate materials are showing up more in outdoor furniture, as well as round shapes and combinations of deep materials with light textiles.
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