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At some point I’m going to have to break down and build some furniture for my patio. We visited a friend’s house recently and were blown away by the awesome landscaping and fence work in his backyard, which turned it from small, crappily-fenced square (i.e. like ours) into a relaxing miniature oasis. I understand the fence construction and landscaping, and I could definitely assemble some nice mission-style furniture for the project. But here’s something I’ve always wondered: Does furniture designed to have large cushions, like that pictured above, really work outdoors?

To survive the weather, the cushions must be made of durable material. For example, the ones above (for sale at Lowe’s, link below) are made polyester and acrylic. They look comfortable, but I can’t help but wonder if they’re really scratchy and rough. And do they hold up well, or do they die a quick death in bright sunlight like the webbing in old-style folding chairs?

Or does it make sense to simply have indoor cushions and just store them indoors until you’re planning to go outside? (That’s probably stupid, but I’m sure I’m not the first one to think about it.) Anyway, if you have some experience with all this, I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. Save a fellow Toolmonger some mistakes, eh?

 

16 Responses to Hot Or Not: Outdoor Patio Furniture w/Cushions

  1. J says:

    Anything made of Sunbrella will last a long time. If you purchase 303 Fabric Guard and treat the cushions with it, water will simply sheet off and with a damp cloth, bird droppings mostly wipe away. Sunbrella cushions typically come pre-treated but an additional layer of protection isn’t a bad idea. As a point of reference I have white cushions outside. Typically I just have a dustpan and broom and sweep of the cushions and they look great. People are typically impressed at the ease of maintenance. Seasonally it’s probably a good idea to wash the cushions in the washing machine and retreat them.

    Cheesy youtube advertisement but it’s accurate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ha_16_VjZww

  2. minh says:

    I had the same dilemma when we were shopping for some and told the wife that we shouldn’t get anything that had cushions, glass, or wicker because I don’t think they will last outdoors. We haven’t bought or built a set yet but we’re looking to built something similar to a Teak Patio Sets but without using teak

  3. Vincent says:

    If you have a lot of trees, you could have problems as we do. Tree sap, bird poop, etc. What we did was use an outdoor storage chest to store them in when not in use. Works well.

  4. David says:

    I live in the Pacific Northwest, and between the rain, snow, wind and pine needles, we have to store the cushions away when not in use. Solution: bought a little rubbermaid deck box that sits against the house and stored the cushions in there. It keeps the elements off, doesn’t take up any space inside the house, and all the cushions are readily available for quick use.

  5. Angelbane says:

    well personally the cushions are overrated and after 2 years they look like crap pretty much no matter what you do. Most of the stuff with cushions is meant for a screen room rather than a patio and the sun will destroy most things.

    My family has a set of wrought iron patio furniture that is at least 35 years old that needs to be re painted about every 10-15 years and is just as comfortable as most of the stuff with cushions. the trick is to get the stuff that is comfortable rather the stuff with all the flowery detail work that creates edges that will dig into you.

  6. Rick says:

    Cushions are perfectly fine for patio furniture. You don’t need to bring those cushions indoors when not in use either. You need a weather tight DECK BOX to store them when not in use.

    The Rubbermaid box that David suggested is a good product.

  7. Jerry says:

    I’ll add to the idea of the Rubbermaid box. I went with a similar idea and used (2) storage benches made for outside. I think they are Suncast branded. They are small so fit most anywhere for added seating when needed. Two of these hold all my cushions – We see some rain here in Oregon so the cushions spend a lot og time on those benches.

  8. John T. McEarchern III says:

    Deck Box works great!!!

  9. Phil says:

    The cushioned furniture is definitely a luxury, and you do need to keep the cushions stored away if you aren’t going to be using the furniture. Like others have mentioned, I have a Deck Box specifically to keep the cushions in.

  10. Eric says:

    I’m going to jump on the deck box bandwagon here, too. My wife and I bought one of the Suncast deck boxes, and it’s plenty big for (4) cusions, a small B&D leaf blower (with the nozzle extension off), extension cord, and various citronella candles ‘n other small stuff. If we are having folks over, we take out the cushions, and then there is space to fold up the grill cover inside the box for storage while we use the grill. And the top of the box is a good place to put drinks, plates, utensils, etc. Definitely a functional piece and worth the money – especially since it prolongs the life of the cushions!

  11. Toolfreak says:

    +1 on the Wrought Iron furniture. I have a lot of the stuff and it is better in terms of comfort and quality than anything with cushions short of using indoor furniture outdoors. Outdoor furniture with cushions tends to be of the cheap tubular variety, and made in China.

    I found very well made Iron chairs, tables, and more at Home Depot for an incredible price. They are spring-loaded chairs so they are not just comfortable to sit in, but you can rock back and forth or just lean back a bit. They are also handmade in the USA from US Steel. They will probably last forever barring some sort of accident that completely bends them beyond recognition.

    No cushions to deal with, having to take out, install, tie, pick up from the yard when they blow away, wash when they get dirty or someone spills something, etc. etc.

    I find outdoor furniture with cushions and the like is the domain of people with too much money who want to show off, (or those without enough money who want to give appearances). If you have money to burn and time to waste, fine, but if you want to make a one-time purchase and not have to hassle with anything other than moving them around, a quality Iron furniture set is my suggestion.

  12. Brau says:

    My elderly inlaws have patio cushions that have lasted over ten years (they cart them out and back in every time).

    My neighbor has cushions that look great one year and like crap the next(he leaves them out and buys new ones every two years or so.

    I have cushions in my basement that came in during wet weather and never managed to find their way outside again because the chairs are fairly comfortable without them. A waste of money, I guess.

    Bottom line: Whatever suits your comfort needs and lifestyle.

  13. Shawn says:

    I purchased some furniture with the Sunbrella fabric. The biggest drawback is that the cushions (bought at Lowes/Allen and Roth) absorb ALL the moisture in the air. It winds up sitting on the cushions. You wipe them off and they are still damp enough to leave your shorts wet. I live in Cali where weather in the summer is very mild to say the least. I bought these chairs for my wife and I to enjoy morning coffee by the pool but now have to wait till noon to have a dry cushion to sit on. Don’t really want to take the cushions in and out every morning.

  14. Nancy says:

    I am not sure what brand our cushion fabric is, But I purchased an eight piece circular sofa set from Costco in 2004 and both the seat cushions and the throw pillows still look like new. Most years I have left them out year-round through both snow and sun seasons. I would like to change the fabric to a newer style, but don’t really trust the investment will last as long as these. Sunbrella gets a lot of good feedback online – but it’s almost impossibly expensive to purchase by the yard. So my answer is, YES, if the cushions are well made, and of high grade materials, they will wick water and drain off properly, and dry quickly, and will not fade even after years of abuse in full sun. 303 high tech fabric guard is a recommended protectant for both uv and waterproofing protectant.

  15. Elyse Cooper says:

    While I love the idea of the deck box, between the hot tub, patio table, BBQ and sectional sofa, there’s no room! So we bought a large 24 x 18 tarp and when it calls for rain, we stack all cushions on the sofa, throw the tarp on top and tuck the sides under the legs of the sofa itself to secure it in place. Works great, quick and easy on and and off, and very cost effective!

  16. T says:

    I’ve checked into this product. Two were sold and now it’s not available. Will that status change? I’m very interested. Thank you!

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