A Guide to Buying Patio Furniture


Brown Jordan iconic Kantan set.  Brown Jordan

The Ultimate Guide to Patio Furniture: Brands, Styles and Materials

Know What It’s Made of Before You Buy

Not all patio furniture is made alike. Depending on your preference, you can buy new or used, in a wide range of materials, like rattan, wicker, cast iron, wrought iron, teak, ipe wood or synthetics. Is it important to choose furniture that is green and eco-friendly, if possible?

So, you know what you’re looking at and eventually buying, consult our list of outdoor furniture materials, types, brands, and shopping tips.

A Guide to Mid-century Patio Furniture Brands


Salterini lounge chair. © Iron Renaissance

Vintage outdoor furniture is hot: if you can find a set 50 years or older that’s in near-mint condition or that has been restored, your outdoor room will rival your indoor furnishings.

We present a look at the brands, styles and collectible pieces from top names in vintage garden furnishings.

All-Weather or Resin Wicker

telescope casual lake shore furniture

Lake Shore collection. Telescope Casual

If Grandma wasn’t sitting on the front porch in a motel chair, she was most likely in a wicker chair. Too bad the relic wore out, because it would sure look cool on

front porch. Furniture manufacturers got smart and duplicated the old-style look with new materials, known as all-weather or resin wicker.

Metal Lawn Chairs: Aka ‘Motel’ Chairs

motel chairs

Chairs outside of Snow Cap’s in Seligman, Arizona. Flickr member California to Chicago

Those colourful steel lawn chairs that Grandmas sat on while they sipped beverages on the front porch are also known as “motel” chairs for their propensity to show up near pools or outside the front offices of Route 66 motels. Most of the originals were allowed to rust and corrode until it was time for them to be sent to lawn chair heaven. Guess what? They’re back.

Wrought Iron Furniture

salterini wrought iron chairs

Wrought iron outdoor chairs by Salterini. Kenny K/K2 Modern

Wrought iron is lighter than cast iron, and can be manipulated, bent, and welded more easily than its cast iron cousin. It’s been made since the 19th century, and there’s a reason why it is still popular today.

If you’re a fan of Midcentury modern furniture–both indoors and out–you’ll recognize the material, which is used for tables, unusual chairs, and settees or larger pieces.

Cast Iron Garden Furniture

cast iron dining set

A cast-iron dining set with a perfectly matching rug underneath. Tim Abramowitz/Getty Images

For years, cast iron has been a popular material for garden furniture: it is heavy, durable, and won’t blow away in a strong wind. These dense pieces of iron furniture can be seen in formal garden settings, like at the White House. Early pieces of cast iron garden furniture were designed in the rococo style. Discover why cast iron is still a tried and true material for making outdoor furniture that lasts.

What is Ipe Wood?

outdoor place settings

Outdoor hardwood table is set with modern placemats and tableware. Glow Decor/Getty Images

Ipe is a Brazilian hardwood that is surpassing teak as an outdoor furniture material. It looks good, is relatively easy to maintain, and is FSC certified. Currently, it’s a popular hardwood to use for decks because of its durability and rich colour.

What is Rattan Furniture? 

vintage rattan chair

A vintage rattan chair from the 1950s. Lisa Hallett Taylor

What you might have thought was bamboo all along is actually rattan, a plant fibre that has been popular since the mid-20th century for making tropical-inspired furnishings for indoor and outdoor use. Every 5-10 years or so, it gains a resurgence in popularity–possibly by appearing in films or ads.

Learn more about the material and the furniture from which it is made.

What is Shorea Wood?

shorea patio set

A shorea wood outdoor set by a pool. Lisa Hallett Taylor

Shorea is a hardwood that resembles teak or ipe in both looks and attributes. Find out why it’s a popular choice for outdoor applications and products.

Furniture Brands

ow lee hyde park set

O.W. Lee Hyde Park collection. O.W. Lee

Who’s who and who makes what in the world of casual furniture. Check out this comprehensive list of casual furniture brands and manufacturers.

By Lisa Hallett Taylor