Mistakes to avoid when buying and maintaining outdoor furniture

Before you buy

Finding exactly the right garden or patio furniture to create an outdoor entertainment and relaxation area is exciting, but choosing furniture that will look good for a long time, without constant work to maintain it, can be a daunting task.

Before buying new garden or patio furniture, rather than buying the first set you like, there are some basic decisions to help avoid nasty surprises and to ensure you do not throw away money by having to replace everything every few years, either because they don’t last or because they no longer suit your needs. Do your homework well and find as much information about each type of outdoor furniture material and design, and how to maintain it.

We at Clearspell have years of experience with all types and all the best brands of outdoor furniture and can offer independent expert advice to make the right choices. We will also help you make certain your outdoor furniture will look pristine for a very long time.

Start by prioritising the factors that are important to you. While they are all significant, some will have more weight than others to suit your particular circumstances. Here are some of the most important issues to consider, in no particular order (you need to prioritise them):

Which are the most popular types of outdoor furniture material?

Each of these types of furniture material comes in a wealth of styles, shapes, designs, colours, and quality. Each will have its own appeal, advantages and disadvantages, that will make it suitable for some, but not for others.

Please read our other articles for more information on each of these outdoor furniture types and the best brands to consider.

Here is the list of the most popular types of garden and patio furniture to help you choose:

Cast-aluminium, tubular aluminium, wrought iron, cast-iron, stainless-steel, a large variety of wood types, rattan, synthetic rattan, and plastic.

Aesthetic appearance:

It goes without saying that the design will play a huge part in finding exactly the right appearance to suit your style, taste and space, and each type of material lends itself to unique styles and designs.

Natural materials undoubtedly have a matchless charm and elegance, making wood or rattan excellent choices for more sophisticated areas, but unless well protected, they are less resistant to constant exposure to the elements and require more TLC and maintenance than some of the others.

Beautiful designs are possible with cast aluminium, wrought iron, and cast iron, and they are available in a large variety of colours. You can choose something robust and impressive, or something dainty and sophisticated.

The best quality synthetic rattan closely resembles its natural counterpart and is more resistant to the weather, but most types of plastic furniture do not have the same sense of quality and luxury.


No matter how indestructible your choice may seem in the showroom, outdoor furniture has to take a hammering from the weather virtually all the time. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are the most destructive force on earth and will eventually wreck anything if not protected.

  • Features that are important in your choice include:
  • Their resistance to fading;
  • being weakened by ultraviolet rays;
  • resistance to physical damage by people, animals, and wind;
  • resistance to water damage and rust;
  • being blown away by the wind; and
  • susceptibility to damage by mould and mildew.

If you live in an area with ferocious sunlight, aluminium, steel and iron will have the best UV resistance, while plastics, rattan and wood are the most vulnerable.

Rain, snow, dew, and other forms of moisture will cause degradation of wood, rattan iron, and steel, while aluminium does not rust. However, unless covered, even aluminium can degrade eventually and mould or mildew can grow in any crevices and joints.

Strong wind is another destructive force and can cause physical damage to furniture. Unless it is heavy enough and properly secured, the wind can blow it around. Aluminium (especially tubular aluminium) and plastics are lightweight and most vulnerable, while steel, iron, and most types of wooden furniture are heavy enough to withstand mild to strong winds.

Whatever your choice of material, the best quality covers like Duraspell will protect them from all the elements and make them last many years longer.

Duraspell has 50+ UV rating, keeping out 98% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays; is 100% waterproof to protect it from rain; keeps out dirt and dust; protects the furniture from physical damage; is breathable to avoid the growth of mould or mildew; and can easily be secured with ziplocks and ripstop ties.

Amount of cleaning maintenance required:

Garden and patio furniture is exposed to dust, dirt, and grime, which is not only unsightly, but creates an ideal breeding ground for mould, mildew, and bacteria, and also contributes to oxidation and rust.

All types of outdoor furniture materials require regular cleaning to keep them looking attractive, but some of the materials require more attention and it is unfortunately our natural inclination to leave outdoor furniture unattended when not in use, or to clean them “next time.”

If cleaning and maintenance is a problem for you, it is best to avoid natural materials, such as wood and rattan, which require regular cleaning and treatment. They will need to be sealed with oil, wax, or sealant every few months.

Synthetic materials easily discolour and look old and worn if not kept clean and shiny.

Aluminium, iron, and steel furniture are easy to clean and usually require little maintenance, other than to touch up the paint and it is recommended you apply car wax at intervals to keep them gleaming.


There is hardly any point in creating an outdoor haven if the furniture is not comfortable. Some styles of outdoor furniture like sofas, sunbeds, cocoons, daybeds, and so on, are not always available in all the various types of materials.

Generally, rattan furniture is designed for the greatest comfort, with comfy styles and designs available in wood, aluminium, and even steel. The right cushions are a very important factor to create comfortable seating and relaxation areas.

Size and suitability for your space:

  • Some furniture looks fantastic in the showroom, but will it suit your area?
  • Consider whether you are prioritising elegance, comfort, or strength.
  • Do you want lightweight furniture that is easy to move, or heavy furniture that will not blow away in the wind?
  • Do you need furniture that remains cool in the sun? Remember, metals and dark colours will become scorching hot if left in the sun during summer.
  • Bulky furniture is generally more comfortable, but will not suit small spaces like patios or decks where dainty or elegant furniture will create the kind of atmosphere and ambience you are looking for.
  • If you are using your outdoor furniture on the lawn or other soft surface, take care not to choose furniture with skinny legs that can sink into the soil or lawn. Likewise, consider the strength and weight the chairs have to bear.

Easy to rearrange:

Depending on the space and usage of your entertainment and relaxation area, it may not be necessary to move furniture about, but if you need to rearrange the furniture for different purposes, you will need to consider the weight and size.

Cast iron and wrought iron in particular are very heavy, with some wooden furniture could also be quite hefty.


For some people, it may be a case of “anything is better than nothing” and if you are on a budget, affordability may be the overriding consideration.

However, consider how much it will cost you to replace that furniture within a few months or even a few years. Our advice would be to start small, but buy the best quality you can afford and expand later.

Please check our buyer’s guide if you need help working out what size garden corner set covers you require. Click here