The Complete Outdoor Benches Buying Guide

Originally Published on October 6, 2022. Last Updated on June 25, 2024.

No garden, patio, or front porch is complete without seating from which you can comfortably relax and enjoy the fresh air. Available in a variety of designs and lengths, benches offer room for two or more guests. They’re also a great option for solo relaxation, a place to go when you want to get lost in a good book or listen to the peaceful chorus of chirping birds. A comfortable, well-designed bench can bring form and function to any underutilized space or forgotten corner. 


Jump to Section
Is an Outdoor Bench Right For You?
Choose the Right Materials for Your Garden Bench
Choose the Right Size for Your Outdoor Bench
Choose the Right Style Bench
Choose the Right Color for Your Bench
Choose the Right Accessories for Your Bench


Step 1: Is an Outdoor Bench Right For You?

When choosing a patio bench, you want to look for high-quality designs, durable materials, and a style that plays well with your current decor. You may want to set a budget ahead of time to prevent overspending. Before we dive into different materials, sizing, styles, and accessories, let’s decide: Is an outdoor bench right for your space and lifestyle?

POLYWOOD Chippendale 48" Bench in Black
Featured: Chippendale 48″ Bench in Black

Points to Consider

Durability: How well will it stand up to rain, sun, snow, and repeat use?

Maintenance: How much effort is required to keep it clean?

Design: Does the bench work with the current layout and look of your space?

Comfort: Is it designed with a contoured seat or cushions?

Weight: How easy is it to move the furniture, and can it withstand strong wind gusts?

Price: How much value (i.e., frequency and years of use) will you get from your bench?


Step 2: Choose the Right Materials for Your Garden Bench

If you want something that will last for years and require little maintenance, materials do matter. If your outdoor space is subject to inclement weather or if you have kids and pets, look for durable, moisture-resistant materials. If the area is covered or you don’t mind the extra maintenance, less durable materials could work. 

In short, the good looks and longevity of your bench is largely dependent on the material you choose. Below we’ve listed the most common materials used in outdoor benches and rated each by how much maintenance is required to keep in great condition.

Outdoor Bench Materials Chart
Click to Enlarge

Step 3: Choose the Right Size for Your Outdoor Bench

When deciding what size bench is best for your space and seating needs, you want to consider your square footage, the number of people you want to accommodate, and how you plan to use it. 

Width: Small-space-friendly designs typically start at 48-inches wide, a comfortable width enough for 1 to 2 adults. If you’re working with a large space and have a bigger family or like to stretch out, look for a larger seat that’s between 60- and 80-inches wide.

Height: Bench seats will typically be between 14 and 19 inches above the ground. If you want lumbar support, look for ones with backrests that extend at least 16 inches above the top of the seat. 

Depth: Referring to the distance between the front and back of the seat, the depth of your bench will ultimately be determined by your space and family members’ heights. Deeper seats are best for larger patios and taller folks. 


Step 4: Choose the Right Style Bench

POLYWOOD Vineyard 48" Adirondack Bench in Teak
Featured: Vineyard 48″ Adirondack Bench in Teak

The easiest way to decide the best style and color for your new outdoor bench will be to take inventory of your current patio furniture. Since benches are used as additional seating—and not necessarily a space’s focal point—you should shop for something that plays well with your layout and its current color scheme. 

Styles

A garden bench is typically designed with a supportive backrest, perfect for settling in with a cup of tea and admiring your natural surroundings. Depending on the width, it can usually seat between 2 and 4 friends. 

A backless bench is, yes, a bench without a backrest. This style is truly versatile as you can sit on one in any direction and easily tuck it under a dining table. The biggest downside is that they don’t offer back support, so they aren’t as comfortable as other styles. 

If you want to maximize a corner, a curved bench might be your perfect fit. These space-savers can be positioned with a table in the middle to create a cozy breakfast nook or conversation area.

Another space-saving superstar, storage benches are great for maintaining a neat and tidy backyard. You can use this extra storage space to stow accessories during stormy weather or keep the kids’ pool toys out of sight. 

POLYWOOD Farmhouse Trestle 65" Bench POLYWOOD Rustic Farmhouse 60" Backless Bench POLYWOOD Rockford 72" Chippendale Bench POLYWOOD Rockford 72" Bench
POLYWOOD Rockford 60" Bench Martha Stewart by POLYWOOD Chinoiserie 60” Garden Bench Martha Stewart by POLYWOOD Chinoiserie 48” Garden Bench

Compare POLYWOOD Bench & Glider Styles


Step 5: Choose the Right Color for Your Bench

You really can’t go wrong with a neutral-hued bench. Tan or dark brown tones easily blend into natural surroundings, while white, grey, or black all pair well with most color schemes. These easygoing colors can be brightened up with vibrant accent pillows or nearby planters with colorful blooms. Depending on the material you’re opting for, there may be more vibrant options (think cheery yellow or turquoise blue) at your disposal. 

Classic Finish — Traditional Colors

Step 6: Choose the Right Accessories for Your Bench

Last but not least, it’s time to think about accessories. If you want to add extra support for those long coffee talks or a pop of color to your porch, bench cushions are a perfect way to do so. Some online retailers will provide the option to add on a cushion when you purchase your new bench. If not, you’ll need to measure the seat width and depth and find one that fits.

Martha Stewart by POLYWOOD Chinoiserie 48” Garden Bench
Featured: Martha Stewart by POLYWOOD Chinoiserie 48” Garden Bench in Sand

Side tables are another great way to round out your outdoor seating—and offers a place to set your coffee mug down between sips. Look for one in the same material and color for a cohesive look or try something unexpected if you have a flair for the eclectic.

POLYWOOD Benches, Swings & Gliders Buying Guides

7 thoughts on “The Complete Outdoor Benches Buying Guide

    1. Hello Annie,

      Thank you for your interest in our Vineyard 60” bench. The cushion that is a perfect pairing for this bench is our SKU XPWS0061 Bench Seat Cushion – 17.5″D x 55″W x 2.5″H.

      Best wishes,
      Heather

  1. My husband has back problems and needs good lumbar support. Which bench and rockers are best for lumbar support?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Jan,

      We are happy to hear you are considering POLYWOOD for your space. You might consider one of our Adirondack style benches as they have a higher back than traditional benches. If your husband prefers a more upright rocking chair, we would recommend our Estate Rocking Chair (R199) or Presidential Rocking Chair (R100). If he prefers more of a relaxed rocking chair, we would recommend our Vineyard Porch Rocking Chair (R140) or our Nautical Porch Rocking Chair (R145). If you would like to view the furniture before making a decision, please visit polywood.com and use our Showroom Locator tool to find a local dealer near you. We do recommend calling ahead to confirm what the store has in stock.

      We hope you find the perfect chair for you and your husband!

      Thanks for reaching out,
      Brooke

  2. Do you manufacture mentions appropriate size for preschool age children? Looking for them for children’s playground/garden setting.

    1. Thank you for your question, Dinah. Our children’s furniture does not have an age recommendation on it because we test all of our children’s products to the same standards as our full-size furniture. Thanks!

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