If there’s one thing better than enjoying your outdoor space, it’s enjoying your space with friends and family. From the traditional bench to a swing or glider, the perfect outdoor seating option will make a big difference to how you enjoy your patio, deck, or yard.
When choosing the right seating for two people, you have three main options:
- Benches: available in a variety of designs and lengths.
- Gliders: move gently backward and forward on a fixed frame.
- Swings: typically hang on a porch or freestanding frame and sway gently back and forth.
Step 1 — Decide on Whether You Want a Bench, Swing, or Glider
Your most important choice is going to be the type of seating you want to invest in. Below are a few tips to help you choose the perfect seating for your space.
A few things to consider:
- Benches are ideal if you need to seat two or more people — most swings and gliders are designed to comfortably seat two, so if you have three or more sitting together, a larger stationary bench is your best option.
- You can only install a swing if you have an effective ceiling or beam you can hang it from (or a freestanding swing frame).
- Gliders and swings need a few feet of open space behind and in front to accommodate the backward and forward motion.
- Due to their simpler construction, benches are lower-priced than equivalent swings or gliders.
- Although kids may enjoy the novelty of a swing or glider more than a bench, smaller children will require supervision when they’re using a swing or glider.
- Swings and gliders are great places for companion animals to snooze!
Step 2 — Choose the Right Materials for Your Bench, Swing, or Glider
Benches, swings, and gliders are available in a wide variety of materials. Softwoods like pine, hardwoods like oak and teak, aluminum, wicker, HDPE lumber, and more. Your choice of materials will have a big influence on several areas:
- Durability — how well will your seating last when it’s left outside?
- Maintenance — how easy will your seating be to look after?
- Appearance — how will your seating look over time?
- Comfort — how comfortable and luxurious will your seating be?
- Weight — how easy is it to move the seating around, and how resilient is it to weather?
- Price — how much value for money will you get from the seating?
Pine and Other Softwoods as Material for Benches, Swings, or Gliders
Although hardwoods are often more popular, some outdoor seating is made of pine or other softwoods. Softwoods are abundant and inexpensive but are not great choices for outdoor seating, as they don’t tend to weather very well.
Softwoods — Points to Consider
- Softwood isn’t very resilient or durable; it is easily scratched or dented, which can impact the appearance of your seating.
- Softwood must be varnished and protected if it is going to stay outside — even then, the elements can quickly impact how good the seating looks.
- Softwood seating will typically need to be restained or revarnished on a semi-regular basis.
- Softwood is an inexpensive choice when it comes to outdoor furniture.
Oak and Other Hardwoods as Material for Benches, Swings, or Gliders
Hardwoods are a better choice than softwoods for well-crafted, lasting seating, but they are not without issues. Like softwoods, they need to be regularly maintained to look their best.
Hardwoods — Points to Consider
- Hardwoods are quite resilient and durable, and it is difficult to scratch, dent, or damage them.
- Hardwood must be varnished and protected if it is going to stay outside.
- Hardwood seating will typically need to be restained or revarnished on a semi-regular basis.
- Hardwood seating is more resilient to outdoor elements.
- Hardwood is a moderately expensive choice as a material for outdoor seating.
Teak as a Material for Benches, Swings, or Gliders
Teak is a popular choice for outdoor furniture and seating. It is better than other woods like pine, oak, bamboo, or wicker.
Teak — Points to Consider
- Teak is durable and resilient, as it produces its own oil. It’s a hardwood, so isn’t easy to dent or scratch.
- It’s completely resistant to wind, water, and rust and can stay outside all year-round.
- It’s only available in one “color,” teak.
- It is difficult to maintain and needs to be regularly rubbed down and treated to avoid “silver patina.”
- Teak is one of the pricier options when it comes to outside furniture.
Wicker as a Material for Benches, Swings, or Gliders
Wicker is sometimes used as a material in seating. Although wicker can sometimes be a good material for furniture, it doesn’t really have the durability for outside use.
Wicker — Points to Consider
- Wicker is not very resilient and it can be easily damaged, especially if you use the seating often.
- When used outside, wicker can lose its appearance quickly, as it is not weather-resistant.
- Wicker is very light and vulnerable to wind gusts.
- The way wicker is woven means that dirt can get into the gaps, spoiling the appearance of the seating.
- Wicker is not easy to maintain.
Aluminum as a Material for Benches, Swings, or Gliders
Although not as popular as the other choices, some outdoor communal seating is available in aluminum. It’s a lightweight, durable metal.
Aluminum — Points to Consider
- Aluminum is tough, resilient, and easy to maintain.
- Your seating can be left outside all year round, with no ill effects.
- It is highly durable and completely resistant to water and rust.
- Lightweight construction means it can be vulnerable to gusts of wind.
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Lumber as a Material for Benches, Swings, or Gliders
HDPE is a synthetic resin for building solid, high-quality, durable outdoor furniture. Its cost is offset by the luxury, comfort, and resilience it provides. It’s a perfect material for stylish outdoor seating.
HDPE Lumber — Points to Consider
- It is easy to maintain, needing just a soft-bristle brush with a simple solution of water and mild dish soap.
- Medium weight, HDPE is sturdy and resistant to wind so your seating can stay outside all year-round.
- HDPE is highly durable and completely resistant to wind, water, and rust.
- Your seating will be comfortable, stylish, and luxurious with a high-quality, strong, and sturdy construction.
- HDPE is recyclable and is often made from recycled ocean-bound and landfill-bound plastics.
- HDPE lumber is available in a wide variety of colors.
- HDPE lumber is manufactured to last a lifetime and its price reflects that.
Step 3 — Ensure That Your Seating’s Hardware is Safe and Durable
When it comes to swings and gliders, you want the hardware used to build the furniture to be safe, resilient, and reliable in all weather conditions. For swings, that means the hardware used to attach the swing to a ceiling or beam, for gliders, that means the hardware the gliding mechanism runs on.
In all cases, we recommend marine-grade hardware. This is similar to the metal used in boats and ships — it’s weather- and rust-resistant and is the material you want to keep your swings and gliders safe to use.
You will also want to carry out a little maintenance on your swing or glider from time to time. Swings should be checked to ensure that all the nuts and bolts are still tight, and gliders will benefit from ensuring the mechanism continues to work well.
Step 4 — Work Out How Much Room You Have
Take a look at the variety of seating available. When you know the style and type of seating you want, make a careful note of the dimensions — you want to ensure your bench, swing, or glider will easily fit into your outdoor space.
- Carefully measure your outdoor space and use tape or some other way to mark the size of the seating before you buy it.
- You will want some space between seating and around the outside of each furniture piece to allow people to move around easily.
- If you’re not keeping your bench or glider outside all year-round you’ll need to consider how much space you’ll need to store it.
- Choose colors and styles that will complement your outdoor space as a whole.
Step 5 — Choose the Right Style of Bench, Swing, or Glider
Seating is available in a wide variety of colors and styles, and you will want to choose the perfect piece to complement your deck, patio, or yard. From more formal seating to fun and laid-back options, you’ll find the right piece for your own sense of style.
Below is a breakdown of POLYWOOD’s Bench, Swing, and Glider options:
Step 6 — Choose the Right Color for your Bench, Swing, or Glider
If you’re buying pine, oak, teak, or wicker seating, you will be limited in your choice of colors and finishes. If you’re going for HDPE lumber, you will have plenty of colors to choose from. Most of our seating is available in a wide variety of traditional lumber colors.
Step 7 — Accessorize Your Bench, Swing, or Glider
Once you’ve chosen the perfect seating for your outdoor space you can accessorize with colorful cushions and/or pillows — ours are made with durable outdoor performance fabric.
Outdoor performance fabric is weather-, moisture-, and fade-resistant, so they’ll continue looking great from season to season and they’ll dry out fast after a passing rainstorm. Add in a huge variety of colorways and patterns, and you’re sure to find the perfect seating cushion or pillow.
Another must-have accessory is a coordinating side table — create the perfect spot to hold snacks, drinks, or rest a great book.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to choosing the perfect seating, there’s plenty to consider. We hope this buyer’s guide has given you all the information you need to make an informed choice. If you’ve still got questions, we have answers; feel free to call us at (855) 935-5550 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our experts will be delighted to help you out!
Blog Post Updated April 20, 2021