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What Color Patio Furniture Should I Get?

We’re in the process of upgrading our old patio furniture at the moment, and choosing the color is proving harder than we thought. So what colors are best?

While black, white, and other neutral colors are always popular for patio furniture, the ultimate choice is purely subjective. However, it’s a good idea to pick complementary colors for different pieces of furniture and to choose an overall color scheme that goes with the color of your house.

Let’s dive down into this topic in more detail and discover what colors of patio furniture work well together, and also look at other options for repainting and refreshing tired outdoor furniture…

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What Color Patio Furniture Should I Get?

What Are The Best Colors For Patio Furniture? (According To Real Estate Agents)

If you want your patio to look its best, realtors suggest the following colors.

Go bold

The best advice we heard? Paint your furniture your favorite colors! After all, you’re the ones that live in the house and use the patio, so paint it whatever color you fancy. But (and you knew there’d be a but, right?), bear in mind that very bright colors can be a turn-off for some people, so be prepared to tone it down if you decide to sell.

Keep it neutral

Natural wood colors are very popular among buyers. For a calm and elegant look, stick to browns, grays, and creams. You can always add a splash of color with some cushions, throws, or an outdoor rug.

The bronzed look

You can always team your natural tones with this super-popular hue. “Urban bronze” is right on-trend at the moment, and we love the rich effect that a touch of metallic paint brings to your garden. A whole bench in this dramatic shade may be a bit much, so maybe use it for smaller chairs or coffee tables, or simply as an accent color.

Paint it black

Black metal outdoor furniture always looks stylish, and brings a sophisticated note to a contemporary patio or deck. Again, you can pair it with brighter cushions, and it looks great as a foil for brightly colored plants and pots.

What Color Should I Paint Outdoor Furniture?

Well, we think that you should paint it whatever color makes you the happiest! However, if you like to follow the trends, natural shades are popular at the moment.

Neutral shades like pale gray, fawn, and bronzy-brown are a wise move as well as a stylish one if you are thinking of selling your home. Potential purchasers like to see neutral colors (even if you’re taking the furniture with you!).

So, think of using natural wood-colored stains instead of paint, or if you do want to paint, picking colors like gray and white. Conversely, black is another popular choice. Like white or wood-colored finishes, it provides an excellent background shade.

The advantage of going for a neutral look is that you can then dress the furniture however you want to, and change it with the seasons. So, add lime green or scarlet cushions, and add planters and other accessories in your favorite bright colors

How Do You Brighten Outdoor Furniture?

If you want to give your existing patio furniture a bit of a facelift, there are various different ways to do this. How you brighten your furniture depends on what material it’s made from, as different finishes require different types of paint or stain.

The easiest solution is to add different scatter cushions or use throws. This will give you a bright new look without having to do anything to the furniture itself. Plastic furniture can be awkward to paint, so this is a heart option.

If you have something like a plastic rattan patio set, you could make new covers for the seat cushions (or have them made), giving you a whole new look.

If you decide to paint, exterior latex paint is a good option for outdoor furniture, and should have additives that guard against mold and UV. You should even be able to use this on plastic. 

If you have some of those old, cheap plastic chairs hanging about, take a look at this short film. Robbie and Gary Gardening Easy takes you through painting resin chairs for a great new effect.

For metal furniture, you can’t beat Rustoleum spray paint. You’ll have to put in plenty of work preparing the surface first, but it’ll be worth your efforts when you see your glossy new chairs.

How about wooden furniture? There’s plenty of choice of exterior wood paints out there that would do the job for you. However, you may decide that a stain is more appropriate for your needs.

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Is Paint or Stain Better For Outdoor Furniture?

Both paint and stain are great ways to brighten up your wooden outdoor furniture, but which is the best? If the furniture isn’t made from wood, it has to be paint, so that’s a simple answer. Whether you paint or stain wood really depends on the effect you want, and the condition of the furniture itself.

The two finishes work in different ways. Paint coats the surface, while stain penetrates it. So, if you want to show off the natural grain, stain will enhance it beautifully. However, if your furniture is a little old and shabby, paint will cover its flaws.

There are other advantages to painting rather than staining. You have a greater choice of colors, and the finish will last longer (provided you have chosen a good quality paint with the necessary water and UV protective properties, that is). 

Stain is cheaper and easier to apply, which are two big advantages. But, as we said, it doesn’t last as long (about five years as opposed to ten), and it also doesn’t have such good UV-resistant properties as exterior paint.

Can Rattan & Wicker Be Painted?

You can paint natural rattan and plastic wicker furniture; but as you can imagine, you’ll need to use spray paint to make sure you reach all those fiddly little gaps.

Natural rattan furniture shouldn’t be kept outdoors anyway, so you don’t need to use exterior paint. For outdoor plastic wicker, use an exterior, plastic-friendly spray paint (you may also need to use a primer to prepare the surface). Here’s how you do it:

  1. Clean the furniture, making sure you remove all debris, bugs, dirt etc. A pressure washer will do a good job, but make sure it’s thoroughly dry before you move to the next stage
  2. Brush the dry furniture to remove dust and dirt
  3. Spray on primer (unless your paint contains a primer)
  4. When it’s dry, apply the first coat of the spray paint. Leave to dry according to the directions on the tin, then apply a second coat if needed
  5. Don’t use the furniture until the paint has fully cured. Depending on the type of paint, this can take a few days. If the wicker flexes during this period, the paint may crack 
Coloful patio furniture

Can You Paint Over Stained Outdoor Furniture?

Yes, you can paint over stained furniture, but it’s very hard to do it the other way round! Latex, oil and acrylic paints should be able to cover the older staining. 

If the stain isn’t looking too good anymore, and the wood isn’t as attractive as it used to be, a coat of paint will hide the flaws and make your furniture look fantastic again. Staining typically lasts five years. After this time, you may be ready for a change anyway, and paint will create a vibrant new look.

If you want to stain painted furniture, you’ll have to remove every scrap of paint, and you’ll have to be able to do this without damaging the wood. To be honest, if garden furniture has been painted, you’re never going to be able to restore it to a condition where staining looks really good.

So, if this is the case with your furniture, take the old coat of paint back as far as you can with scraping and sanding, and paint it again, using an exterior paint rather than a stain.

Final Words

While choosing the color of your outdoor furniture is ultimately a subjective decision, you can always play it safe with the ever-popular blacks, whites, and neutral colors that you commonly see on patio furniture in stores and at other people’s homes.

We’re not normally overly conservative – but when it comes to our final choices, we will keep it simple with a range of complementary creams.

I think we’ve finally turned into our parents! 🙂

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Mark H.

Homeowner and property investor Mark H. aspires to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >