A Guide to Finding Cheap Outdoor Furniture You Love

vintage chair painted green

Lisa Hallett Taylor

Sources for Cheap Outdoor Patio Furniture

ames aires furniture

Flickr member Ethan

Maybe it’s time for some new outdoor furniture, but your budget won’t bend. Like other potential purchases, you can work more closely toward your goal if you have an open mind and do some creative searching. Stores that specialize in patio furniture year ’round often carry high-end, deep-seating brands, but are less likely to hold incredible sales. Look beyond the obvious and traditional sources and you might be in for a pleasant surprise. In some cases, inexpensive translates into next-to-nothing or free. Enjoy the hunt—the challenge is what makes it fun and more meaningful when you find your “treasure.”

Cheap Patio Furniture: Thrift, Antique, and Architectural Salvage Stores

tropitone vintage set

Lisa Hallett Taylor

The thrill of it all—you never know what to expect when you walk into a consignment store, antique shop or a place that sells architectural salvage. Pricing is often at the discretion of the owner or employees. Sometimes they don’t know what’s valuable or collectible, maintaining the belief that new is better than old. This is when you can swoop in and score a highly collectible midcentury Santorini or Woodard wrought-iron chair or dining set.

Habitat for Humanity has opened numerous ReStores throughout the United States and Canada, where they sell reusable and surplus building materials, household fixtures, furnishings and appliances to the public. Since the financial crisis, consignment stores have increased their business.

Yard Sales, Garage Sales and Estate Sales

vintage iron sofa

Lisa Hallett Taylor

Yard sales are often held on Saturday mornings. If the sale is advertised or signs are posted the night before, diehards often show up early, sometimes before the sellers have awakened or hauled their stuff outside. As with car boot sales, collectibles that are good deals will be the first to go, so if you want that wicker porch rocker mentioned in the ad, you’d better arrive first thing.

If you’re more of a casual cruiser, the kind who slowly drives by a yard sale to survey the merchandise without parking your car, you can cover lots of ground on a Saturday morning. While estate sales are stricter on their prices, you can always negotiate. Be reasonable, though. If they wanted to give it away, they’d donate their stuff to a charity. If you’re too cheap, you’ll lose the deal.

Shop the Sales for Deep Discounts Off Outdoor Furniture

outdoor deep seating set

Trinette Reed/Getty Images

Check for sales—both online and at nearby retail stores—that carry outdoor furnishings as a seasonal item: Target, Walmart, Kmart, Sears, Pier 1 Imports, IKEA, Restoration Hardware, CB2, and Cost Plus are possibilities. Outdoor patio furniture is usually in stores and available online in March, and retailers start reductions on garden furnishings right after the Fourth of July, to make room for back-to-school supplies.

Discounts on patio furniture—or any seasonal items, for that matter—usually start at 25 percent, then jump to 50 percent off. At this point in the price reduction process, most of the furniture is purchased. If you want to hold out for 75 percent off, you can wait two or three more weeks, although the selection will be limited or gone.

Looking for Budget Outdoor Furniture: eBay, Craigslist and Other Sites

vintage wicker chair

Lisa Hallett Taylor

eBay rattled the livelihoods of antique shops and was one of the online shopping pioneers. Photos, thorough descriptions, and a dealer rating system have taken away most of the concerns for even the biggest sceptics. You can find virtually any type of outdoor furniture — new, old, basic, collectible—for various prices. To avoid shipping fees, do an “advanced search” and look for auctions in your region.

Craigslist is more what eBay was like in its early days before everyone caught on. Try a local search under terms like “outdoor furniture”, “patio furniture” or “wrought iron patio” if you’re seeking something specific. Although it’s expensive to ship, check Etsy. Several other online retailers/resellers have appeared on the scene in recent years.

Garden furniture, plants, pottery, and grills can be found on other sites and apps. Search Facebook for local-to-you groups that sell or trade items that are used, vintage, upcycled, etc.

Buy Off-Season, Like Off, Off-Season

patio string lights

hazelog/Getty Images

No, it’s not a typo. Buying off-off season is like purchasing a bikini in below-freezing temperatures. It’s not unheard of to find heavily discounted piece of outdoor furniture during the holiday shopping season, sometimes tucked somewhere at the back of the store.

Another suggestion: after the winter holidays, check out the boxes of lights that are marked down. The white string lights—the ones that don’t resemble icicles or candy canes—might light up your garden next summer, strung in a tree or across the deck. Better yet, look for energy-efficient LED lights and save even more money.

Finding Cheap Outdoor Furniture: Repairing and Re-Covering

painting a bench

hazelog/Getty Images

Is a makeover possible? If it’s not beyond repair and hired help is capable of repairing or refurbishing a certain piece of patio furniture, then so can you, if you have the time and willpower.

With a screwdriver, tighten or replace screws. Strip, sand and refinish wood or wrought iron pieces of outdoor furniture. Paint it or make new patio cushions and pillows. Replace a damaged table top with a piece of glass cut to fit or make a mosaic design on top of plywood.

Books, magazines and design and DIY sites are excellent sources of inspiration.

Recycling and Repurposing Outdoor Furniture

vintage tea crate table

Lisa Hallett Taylor

Recycle, reuse, repurpose. They each take time and creativity. You have to approach repurposing with a wide-open mind. This old wooden tea crate makes a charming outdoor table. It’s a vintage addition to this eclectic grouping that also includes the 1950s wrought iron garden settee and a faux-Tuscan planter (rescued as a discard from the back garden of an unoccupied house) with a fresh succulent container design.

You have to use discretion here. A stained 1980s mauve velvet sofa with sagging cushions is not going to look good on your front porch or back patio, despite the fact that we’ve all seen old couches on porches before.

By Lisa Hallett Taylor