As well as choosing the color of your patio furniture, you also have to select the cushions to go with them. We’re doing this right now as part of our home renovations. So how do we get the right cushions for the job?
The essential things to consider when choosing outdoor cushions are the fabric, color, durability, size, fit, and comfort, as well as how well they complement the color and style of your patio furniture.
Let’s dive down into the subject of choosing outdoor cushions in more detail, and discover the best fabric, foam, thickness, and styles for our outdoor furniture…
What Makes a Good Outdoor Cushion? (And How Do I Choose Them?)
If you’re shopping for new cushions for your patio furniture, there are a few things you need to take into account when you’re choosing them.
Most importantly, they need to be water-resistant at the very least (we’ll look at this in more detail shortly). Don’t simply choose normal indoor cushions and hope that they’ll never get wet. Sudden showers catch us unawares, as well as the damper air in the early morning and evening. Proper outdoor cushions are often UV-resistant, too.
What color and design works for you? Choose something that tones well with your furniture, and maybe complements your planting scheme or containers. You can also choose a print: jungle designs and bold floral prints are always popular for garden cushions.
The cushions need to be tough as they’ll spend a lot of their time outdoors. Well-made cushions will have robust, water-tight seams and be made from durable fabrics: don’t save a few dollars by picking up the cheapest ones you can find.
Size and fit
Check the size of your furniture before buying or ordering your new outdoor cushions. You don’t want to end up pushed off the couch by bulky throw cushions, or have an uncomfortable plastic edge around a too-small seat pad.
And last but not least, you want them to be comfortable. If you plan to spend a lot of the warmer weather lounging on your patio, or enjoying long lazy lunches around your outdoor dining set, you need your cushions to be soft, but not too yielding.
What’s The Best Color For Outdoor Cushions?
This is entirely your call! What colors do you love? The yard is actually a great chance to choose bolder colors than you would indoors – so if you love red but feel it would be too much in your indoor living room, here’s your chance!
You may prefer a calm and contemporary look, and choose cool shades such as cream or pale gray. This gives you a classic feel, and will tone well with natural wooden furniture. These are also traditional colors to go with rattan-style furniture.
If you have black metal furniture, try contrasting white, standout metallics, or an on-trend acid shade. Again, if you like red, this could look absolutely stunning against the black.
You can also pick up outdoor cushions in a wide range of prints. We mentioned jungle and floral designs earlier, and you can also find some fantastic animal prints or colorful geo patterns. Look out for pom poms, fringes, and tassels for extra fun detailing.
What’s The Best Fabric For Outdoor Cushions?
Outdoor cushions need to be made from water-repellent fabrics (sometimes known as a hydrophobic finish). When this finish is applied, it should mean that water simply runs off the surface, and spills are super-easy to brush off. The fabric should then dry quickly.
The fabric should also have been treated by the manufacturer with a finish that protects against mold and mildew developing in damp conditions. You may need to get hold of a can of this, and reapply it at the start of each season. You should also protect the cushions with a waterproofing spray, too, to keep it topped up.
Another thing to look out for is a UV-resistant coating. Hopefully, they’ll be seeing a lot of sun in your yard, and you don’t want those vibrant colors fading. Polypropylene is an excellent choice, as it offers superior protection against both sun and showers.
Even if a cushion is labeled “for outdoor use” and it’s made from Polypropylene and water-resistant foam, it’s still best to bring them indoors overnight and if rain is forecast. Yes, it’s a bit of an effort, but it’s better than having to replace your cushions every year. Eventually, even the best outdoor fabrics will fade or develop unsightly markings, but with care, this shouldn’t happen for a long time.
Find out more about waterproof outdoor furnishings in our article.
What’s The Best Thickness For Patio Cushions?
How comfy do you want to be? The typical depth of a patio seat cushion is about 4 inches, while a special deep-seat patio chair is around a luxurious 5.5 inches in depth. This can be thicker than indoor seat cushions, as the foam used for outdoor seating is denser.
When it comes to throw cushions, go with what works in proportion. The standard cushion is 18 inches by 18 inches, and a pair of these will look great on a two-seater outdoor couch. However, if you want a more opulent and loungy look (perfect for your laid-back patio), go up to 24 inches square. Just make sure that a too-large throw cushion isn’t pushing you too far forwards…
What’s The Best Foam For Outdoor Cushions?
A good-quality outdoor cushion will be filled with Polyurethane solid foam. There are two broad types of this: open-cell and closed-cell foam.
Open-cell foam is filled with holes that act as waterways and allow the rain to run straight through. Most cushions made with this are also treated with mold and mildew repellent, and you may need to renew this.
This foam structure is comfortable and can be used all year round as it dries out so quickly. It also comes with a higher price tag than closed foam.
As you’d imagine, this is solid foam without the holes. It simply doesn’t take in water in the first place, and holds its shape very well. It’s commonly used in outdoor applications and lasts longer than its open-cell equivalent. It’s also the cheaper option. The but? It’s firmer and not as comfortable.
However, both types are ideal for outdoor cushions. To find out more, take a look at our article about outdoor cushion filling.
What Style of Patio Cushion is Best?
There are two main types of patio cushion: seat cushions and throw cushions. Seat cushions work with the couch or chair frame to make up the structure of the seat. Some chairs will work OK without the cushions in place, but many (especially sofas) need something like box cushions.
The throw cushion is an added extra. These are popped onto the couch and chairs to create a distinctive look and add just a touch more comfort. They’re not essential, but they can really bring your patio furniture to life.
So, if you’re wondering which is best to get, you’ll more than likely have to have seat or box cushions for structure and comfort. Chairs like those in dining sets will work OK without a seat cushion, but you’ll soon regret it if lunch lasts a while…
The throw cushions are your chance to make a splash, adding color, texture and creativity to your scheme. You can also easily change the look of your patio by switching your cushions for a new shade or print.
In both cases, make sure that the cushions are made from the right weather-resistant foam and fabric, and that you care for them by bringing them indoors at the end of each day. Fancy making your own? Here’s an easy YouTube tutorial on how to make inexpensive outdoor cushions.
You’d think that choosing outdoor cushions would be relatively easy – and while it’s certainly not rocket science – we’ve found it surprisingly harder than we imagined.
My advice would be to choose your patio furniture first then pick some complementary cushions when you know what you’ve go to work with – otherwise you might get yourself in a bit of a muddle like we did! 🙂