Deck season is coming (really)

By Mir
April 7, 2009

Here in Georgia, I’ve learned there’s a relatively slim window of time between Pollen (now) and Melt-Your-Face-Off Heat (coming!) in which to laze around on the deck. On the other hand, this is why God created pools, and also margaritas. Needless to say, we spend quite a bit of time outdoors once the chilly weather departs.

So I felt like Jean and I were totally on the same wavelength when she wrote in:

Most wise and beautiful Mir,

I love Wantnot and read it religiously each day. I’m wondering if you could help me. I am in need of patio furniture. We got some hand me down chairs and a table, but alas, they are falling apart. I’m all about hand me downs, but would like to be able to purchase a matched set. Where can I find a decent set (nothing extravagant) for a decent price (ie less than my mortgage please). Thanks!

Jean is looking very pretty today, isn’t she? I think she’s lost weight, and that color is fabulous on her. No, really.

So let’s talk outdoor furniture.

As with many things, there’s a wide spectrum of price ranges, here. You can go buy yourself some plastic chairs that’ll last a few seasons, or you can easily go spend more on your patio set than you spent on your entire living room. The first step in your shopping is determining what range you’re in.

The bottom range is molded plastic furniture, which you can get anywhere. The (very wide) middle range includes various combinations of higher-quality plastics, metal, wicker, and sometimes wood. The high range stuff is usually all metal or all wood.

The high range stuff is pretty, but I have this rule about not selling a kidney for furniture that doesn’t even come inside the house, soooo… let’s pretend that stuff doesn’t exist. Heh.

Now: Along with every other seasonal item on the planet, the best way to get a deal is—say it with me, now—buy it at the end of the season. Obviously that’s not an option, here, because it’s April and Jean wants something now. So we’ll have to consider other possibilities.

Locally, your best bets (assuming you don’t want something very particular) are going to be the Big Lots, Aldi’s, and similar sorts of stores. They’ll have entire sets for very low prices, like this set they have this week for just under a hundred bucks. That’s hard to beat for all you get, but obviously your timing has to be good and your taste fairly broad.

Stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Sears tend to have lots of options and reasonable pricing, and they also tend to have 10% off “bonus bucks” types of promotions, periodically. You’ll have to keep an eye on the sales to see if something piques your interest. Ditto for stores ending in “Mart.” Ahem.

For something heavy like furniture, finding online deals are a bit tricky; it’s possible to lose any potential savings to shipping charges. I’d recommend looking at the patio furniture section at Overstock, because shipping is always just $2.95. On the other hand, they have a lot of very high end stuff, where the “bargain” price is still in the coronary range for most of us, so you may not find anything fabulous there. A better option might be the patio furniture at Target, much of which is currently being offered with free shipping and 15% off on your $125+ purchase.

My best suggestion for getting a nice set for not a lot of money is to do the Craigslist thing, but that requires time and patience. And occasionally dealing with crazy people.

Readers, what have I missed?


  1. I was in the same situation when I realized I could get a great old set at a garage sale – early in the season b/c they want to buy a new one and I could spray paint it to look like new. Not too hard to do – followed DIY on the internet and for under $60 was ready to go until the end of the season when I got the deal of a lifetime on a set I really wanted.

  2. I looked on Ebay and found quite a few sets within 50 miles of my zipcode. That might be an option.

  3. I’m partial to nice, folding, camping furniture myself — stuff that can easily be stashed in the shed during the winter.

    One thing to consider is whether or not you want cushions. If you are in a rainy area and aren’t fond of stashing the cushions on a dry area after each use, you may find that your furniture is unusable most of the time. My current furniture has mesh fabric. By the time the sun has come out the chairs and loungers are dry and ready for use.

  4. I have that set (or a very similar one) from Aldi’s that we got last year for around $90 which was way closer to our price range than some of the say $500 sets – yikes, seriously do people spend that.

    I’ll tell you a couple of things though – the adjustable seats (can make them recline a little) are kinda nice, but remember this is an affordable, not top of the line set so they aren’t like sitting on something made for your living room. Also – if it rains, sometimes the water will get caught up in them somewhere and will leave rust spots on the deck from where the water drips out eventually.

    I would totally buy this set again – for the price, you can’t beat it and we knew we weren’t getting top of the line quality so we’ve not been disappointed (except for the whole rust water thing which I hate). We love love love that the chairs fold up for easy storage!

  5. We got a set from Lowe’s a couple of seasons ago and have been very pleased with it. The chairs came in two’s and the table has 9 openings fillable with the floor tiles of your choice. I must say that most tables seem to be geared to a family of 4 or smaller. We’re able to make ours work for our fam of 5 since the kidlets still small, but that won’t be so forever.

  6. Crisanne, we have the same table as you! (We snagged ours end-of-season for about $40, I think.) I’m still looking for chairs to go with it; we’re using our old ones. Maybe the end of this season, ha!

  7. I think you have to think about how much you will sit outside, but also realize that you will sit outside a lot more if you have nicer furniture. We have our morning coffee on the patio because of buying nice chairs. If you think of it as adding a room, the cost of decorating the patio seems more worthwhile.

    I found some of our chairs and cushions at the local supermarket. The cushions are nice and plump, covered in a pretty Sunbrella fabric, and cost $12 each. The chairs are as nice as any I’ve seen at expensive stores, and were about $100/each. They’ve lasted four seasons so far, and summer season is about eight months long here.

  8. Don’t forget price clubs! I saw really nice inexpensive sets in our local BJs!

  9. We got our set about 2 years ago, and I think we bought it in very early summertime. We bought ours at Sears, although we had to drive to another store to get it that day. It was a good deal, for a big table, 4 chairs, 2 reclining chairs, end table and 2 ottomans. What I like about it is that the metal is lightweight and the seats are mesh, so we don’t have to worry about weather (except wind) and we can carry them to our basement easily for winter storage.
    Keep an eye on the ads in the Sunday papers for ads from places like Sears, Boscovs, etc. (dep on where you live). Occasionally people also post them on if you are a member.

  10. I got a really nice set a couple of years ago from Old Tyme Pottery for around 150. It came with 6 chairs! You can also try Garden Ridge.

  11. If she lives in the Northeast the Christmas Tree Shops have nice sets for not too much around this time of year. That’s where we got ours and it has served us well.

  12. I bought new patio dining chairs this winter, after ours literally fell apart. (When your chair collapses under the weight of a 150-lb stringbean of a man, it is time for new chairs. Seriously.) I wanted nice ones, because I live in Florida, and our lanai functions as our dining room for much of the year. I wound up with gorgeous wooden chairs from The Company Store — on clearance, with a free shipping coupon, thanks be to Mir! — but I did a LOT of internet shopping before I bought. The Mart-type stores had good deals on patio dining sets, but I didn’t need a set, just chairs. Home Decorators Outlet had awesome deals on patio furniture that was lovely, but nothing was quite my style.

    FWIW, the chairs I got came with cushions for the seat (and it seems to be much less expensive to buy chairs that come with cushions than to buy chair + cushion separately) and the fabric on the cushions is completely water-resistant. They’re dry almost immediately after it stops raining.

  13. Last year my kids wanted to buy my husband some outdoor furniture for Father’s Day. They really liked the set at Bed Bath and Beyond:
    The two chairs are very comfy and come with two ottoman’s (which the kids can sit on) and a table. It was $200, but with the ever-present 20% off coupon–it wasn’t bad. I want to say it was on sale, too–so it ended up being around $150. It works well in our smallish back yard and for people just hanging out while B-B-Qing.

Bargain Hunt





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