When homeowners are deciding what kind of patio furniture to buy, there are two clear options: buy inexpensive furniture at Target and Costco, or opt for quality and style furniture at your local patio store. This is the dilemma on most customer’s minds when they do price shopping “Do I save on low-quality patio furniture, or invest on high- quality patio furniture?” It’s such a hot topic that there’s a thread on this subject hosted on the famous website Houzz (LINK), that spans 13 years! And people are still commenting with their experiences. So we decided to rank the furniture types and give you the details on where to shop, prices, customization, materials, replacement parts, and warranties.
Tier 1 Brands
Brands in this tier carry high quality, exquisitely designed, higher priced patio furniture that will last you from 10-30 years and will probably be handed down to your kids after you’ve finished using it. This tier includes brands like: Brown Jordan, Sunset West, Woodard, Telescope, Lloyd Flanders, Gloster, and Tropitone. (See Top 5 Brands).
Where To Shop
You can shop for these brands at your local specialty patio store and they usually ship 4-5 weeks after purchase. You can find these stores listed under the “retailers or distributors” tab on the brand’s websites, or conduct a simple local Google search to find a few.
Prices & Customization
Prices vary, with complete patio sets from $1,500-6000, and single pieces from $200, you can always select the pieces you want in your set and only buy those. You can also customize your set’s fabric color, fabric quality and frame color.
Brands in this tier use the absolute best materials, no cutting corners! For example a brand like Gloster will source their teak from carefully managed plantations in Indonesia to ensure high quality teak as well as environmental responsibility. All materials down to the nuts and bolts on this higher end furniture will be weather resistant, proven to stand the test of time.
All of the brands in this tier have known replacement parts, what’s more impressive is that some manufacturers will even replace the parts for you under warranty. If not, you won’t have any trouble finding replacement parts for these renown brands online, so that you can replace whatever gets damaged or simply change the color fabrics to give it a brand new look for another few years.
All brands in this tier will offer warranty, however warranty details will vary from brand to brand and from type of furniture, for example, Brown Jordan will offer up to a 15 year warranty on aluminum frames and 1 year warranty on cushions and fabrics. The most important thing to remember is that most ,if not, all items you purchase have a reasonable warranty, with some items being under warranty for over a decade!
Tier 2 Brands
Brands in this tier carry mid-quality, stylish, medium-priced patio furniture that will last you around 3-8 years. These include: Portofino, Sirio, Hanover, Leisure Made, Royal Garden and Abysson among others.
Where to Shop
You can shop for these brands at Costco and Sam’s Club and they will usually ship 2-3 weeks after purchase. Not every town has a Costco or Sam’s Club, so it depends on your location.
Prices & Customization
Prices vary, with complete patio sets from $1000-4000, and single pieces from $150. You can only purchase the advertised set, and won’t be able to customize the pieces, the fabric color, quality or frame finish. What you see is what you get in this category.
Knowing whether the materials used for this tier are quality materials is a hit or miss. Some brands will use higher quality aluminums, wickers, and component parts, while other brands may use corrosive metals, no powder coating on internal frames, and parts that will rust even if the rest of the set won’t. There is no guarantee that you will get a long lasting set. Also, the consumer isn’t privy to information such as where the brands source their materials, or whether they are being environmentally responsible.
Finding replacement parts may prove a bit tricky, and in some cases you won’t find the same exact sizing for parts. But you can find some generic parts online, so, you may be able to replace the parts that become damaged. If parts are unavailable- it may mean having to scrap a broken piece of furniture- making your set incomplete.
Not all brands in this tier will offer warranty, some only offer 1 year warranty from the purchase date, others will offer similar warranty as tier 1 brands but never as extensive. For example: Portofino furniture will only offer 1 year warranty and you need to keep your receipt, as compared to other who offers 5 year finish warranty against blistering or peeling. The important thing is to check for warranty in this category. Follow up from some import companies can be difficult.
Tier 3 Brands
Brands in this tier carry low quality, average styled, low-cost patio furniture that will last you around 1-3 years. These brands are only mentioned under the product listing in small caps, remaining obscure to the customer, some examples are Christopher Knight Home, Threshold and Better Homes & Gardens.
Where to Shop
You can shop for these brands at your local Target, Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, Kmart and they will usually deliver in 1-2 weeks from their warehouses.
Prices & Customization
Prices vary, with complete patio sets from at $300-1000 and single pieces from $100. You can only purchase what you see in the picture or store “as is”, this means no customization or even picking which pieces you want for your set, as they won’t sell pieces from a collection, only the complete packaged sets. Most of these will require assembly.
Furniture in this category is made from cheap materials that will break, peal, rust easily, since the manufacturer is cutting costs wherever possible. Aluminum sets may not come with quality powder coat, so, they may rust, wicker may be from the low-grade material without UV protection, tubular steel may be used instead of aluminum, and even if the materials won’t rust- the parts, like the hardware, will. Lastly, there is no visibility on where these brands source their materials, or how they process them, or whether they are being environmentally responsible.
Finding replacement parts for these big-box retailer patio sets may prove most tricky, since the components used aren’t meant to be replaced but rather thrown away once they become damaged. So you’ll be faced with finding rare pieces on the internet, slings that won’t fit, feet caps that don’t exist in the market, etc.
None of these brands offer any lengthy warranty, and the only warranty is sometimes only the store’s own warranty or return policy -if any. For example some big box stores do not offer warranty for their patio furniture and you are left with only the general 90 days return policy.
Let’s look at the facts:
- Tier 1 brands are longer lasting, made with high quality materials, completely customizable, and carry warranty always, all this for a higher price mark at special patio shops.
- Tier 2 brands are the happy medium, with okay materials, some warranty, some replacement parts, no customization, almost the same price as tier 1 brands, and sold at only two big retailers.
- Tier 3 brands are very affordable but are made from low quality materials, will only last 1-3 years, carry no warranty, no customization, and hard to find replacement parts.
Our verdict is that if you have the funds, invest on a nice Tier 1 brand patio set because it will last decades, it brings warranty, you can be sure of replacement parts, you can customize it and when you want to refresh the look, you can do so by replacing the fabrics and frame colors. If you don’t have the funds, purchase a Tier 3 furniture set and save up for when it breaks down, so you can buy Tier 1 furniture set.
And if you have some funds but not enough for the dream patio set and you find it at your local Costco, just make sure that you ask about materials, warranty, look around for replacement parts online just to be safe, and still save up for when the set gets major wear and tear you can replace it with a Tier 1 modern, high quality set.
Investing on a long lasting Tier 1 set will give you patio furniture for decades, that even your children as grown adults can use for their homes. Tier 1 is hands down the best of the best!