You don't have to pay a lot for good patio furniture

Low-priced outdoor furniture can be a great value

Published: March 19, 2014 09:55 AM

It’s a sure sign of spring when you notice newspaper ads and circulars touting the latest in warm-weather necessities—lawn mowers, leaf blowers, string trimmers, and other power equipment, gas grills, sheds, flowers and plants, and of course, outdoor furniture. If it’s finally time to replace your old and tired patio set or lawn chairs, don’t discard those circulars! Be alert for early-season deals (especially in the Snow Belt).

When you’re shopping, don’t assume that price is the best indicator of quality. When we last reviewed outdoor furniture at a wide range of prices, we found that in nearly every instance, the inexpensive furniture was well made, nicely finished, and well proportioned. In short, a low price doesn't signal poor quality.

How can you tell? No matter where you purchase—porch-and-patio store or mass-market retailer—examine the furniture carefully. Look out for:

  • Finish consistency. Wood should be smoothly sanded and free of flaws, even in hidden spots, such as the underside of the tabletop. Painted metals should have a uniform finish. Wicker shouldn't be unraveling or loosely wound on the frame.
  • Tight and well-fitted joints. Metal welds should be fairly smooth. Make sure metal has no bare, unpainted areas or, worse, rust spots.
  • Stability. Be sure chairs don't wobble or flex too much (some flexibility is OK, especially on tubular metal chairs designed to be springy). Do the same with the table after it's assembled.
  • The retailer’s return and exchange policy. Just in case, upon delivery, your pieces appear damaged or poorly finished.

After you take the furniture home or upon delivery, check for those items again. Also be sure you have assembly instructions, all the required assembly hardware, and warranty information. Assembly instructions should tell you how many bolts, screws, dowels, and such are supplied.

—Consumer Reports

Keep your deck in tiptop shape with high-quality wood stains. And if your deck has seen better days, find out which decking materials will work best at your home.

Keep your patio furniture cushions looking good

To keep your new cushions looking fresh through more than one summer, follow these tips:

• Regularly vacuum away dust and dirt.

• Clean cushions with a sponge and mild detergent, rinse them thoroughly, and let them air dry.

• Store cushions in a deck box or indoors whenever you don’t plan to use the furniture for several days, or when outdoor-entertaining season comes to an end.

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