Springtime is here — it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to do with your backyard this year, and if you’ve decided you’ll use it for entertaining, you know that selecting between the many outdoor patio sets on the market is on your Springtime agenda. Here’s a quick primer on the most common types of outdoor furniture at your disposal.
Defining Patio Sets
A patio is a flat, hard space — usually concrete or wood — that begins at the edge of your home and extends some distance into your back or side yard. A ‘patio set’ is a pile of furniture designed to go on your patio and be used by people enjoying the outdoor environment. Patio sets are defined by their ability to withstand the outdoor elements without being damaged or disfigured. They come in several different materials, the most common of which are wicker, iron, and stone. (Plastic patio sets exist, of course, but they are tacky and not worthy of real consideration.)
Wicker is comfortable — many people say moreso than unforgiving iron or stone — and stylish. It can be left in it’s natural color, or painted. Wicker is eco-friendly as it’s a renewable resource, and it’s easy to find wicker pieces that range through a variety of different styles from classical to Southern to Oriental. The disadvantage of wicker is that, while it lasts for years, it doesn’t last as long as iron or stone, and it requires annual or bi-annual recoating to protect it from sun damage.
Iron is durable, but has the advantage of also being easy to shape into a variety of forms. Iron patio sets generally have a very classical or traditional look that will go with many a classical house — but it’s also possible to find some very modern-looking iron patio furniture. Iron forms an excellent middle ground between the short lifespan of wicker and the relative shapelessness of stone.
Stone patio sets generally outlast their owners without any real maintenance (unlike iron which will eventually corrode if not treated to prevent it.) They can be colored or shaped to fit in with almost any environment, though stone will never have the same level of artistic flourish available in iron or wicker. The primary drawback in using stone is that it must either be created on the spot by a professional hardscaper or brought in using an entire team of men — and once in place, it’s not going anywhere.