Your patio is an extension of your home, a place to hang out with the family, to share meals, to entertain and to bask in the sunshine. A comfortable patio is essentially an outdoor oasis—your vacation home just a step away from home.
Looking to build or upgrade your patio? From paving choices to patio furniture, there are options for every style and budget. To narrow down your search, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked patio questions, so you can spend less time researching and more time enjoying your patio.
What to consider when planning a patio
- How can I build the perfect patio?
- What material should I use for my patio?
- What types of patio furniture are available?
- What type of patio furniture is best for me?
- How should I arrange my patio furniture?
- How can I save money on patio furniture?
- How can I take my patio to the next level?
- How do I clean and store my patio furniture?
1How can I build the perfect patio?
A patio is a paved or stone area at ground level. It can either be right next to the house or set back a little. To build the perfect patio, you must first determine its size.
Specs for patios vary widely, depending on the space’s potential use:
- Small patios: Sometimes called bistro patios,they’re usually around six or seven feet in diameter and intended for a pair to enjoy a meal or drink al fresco.
- Large patios: Typically averaging 16 to 19 feet across, large patios can be arranged like an outdoor living room or an outdoor dining room. Large patios allow lots of seating, coverage from the elements and perhaps even a fire pit!
Once you know how big your patio will be, you can figure out where it should go. Here are some things to consider:
- Sunlight and shade
- Access from the house
Consider marking out the patio’s potential size and location, then spend a day observing how it looks and feels. Watch how the light hits the space throughout the day.
Lastly, it’s time to decide if you’re going to DIY your patio construction (there are tons of online tutorials for tackling this project yourself), or hire a professional to take on the job. You’ll also consider what materials to use—options include everything from paving stones to poured concrete.
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2What material should I use for my patio?
Wondering what patio cover to lay down? Here are five popular options:
|Patio pavers or patio stones (aka manufactured stones)||
|Flagstone (aka natural stone)||
3What types of patio furniture are available?
Now we’re getting to the fun part—choosing furniture and accessories. Once you know how you intend to use the space, it will be a cinch to pick pieces to help with the vibe.
These adorable three-piece sets are perfect for—you guessed it—bistro patios. They usually come with a small table and two chairs perfect for date night or enjoying a meal with a friend. With regular cleaning and proper storage (see more on that below) cast-aluminum sets are durable and long-lasting, while steel and wood foldup sets are easy to pack up at the end of the season or before a big move.
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If you’re imagining an outdoor living room feel, a multi-piece conversation set is what you need. These sets offer deeper seating and usually come with a couch or loveseat and armchairs, or a sectional couch with lots of room. They may also come with a coffee table, or an end table or two. Look for waterproof fabrics, but even so, be prepared to cover your upholstery before a big rain to prevent mould and mildew.
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Just like an indoor dining table but designed with the outdoor elements in mind. These sets usually come with four, six or eight chairs, and sometimes include an umbrella. Consider placement when you’re purchasing a dining set—ideally you want it near the kitchen door (or BBQ!), to minimize trips for setting and clearing the table.
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Chairs, Rockers and Swings
Adding an extra seat (or two) is a great way to test out new styles and gain valuable extra guest seating. Prefer to rock? A patio swing or rocker is also an option. Be sure to check safety specs on rocking and swinging options—they’re kid magnets, even if they’re not always designed with child’s play in mind. If constantly yelling at your kids to get off the swing sounds less than relaxing, a stationary patio chair may be a better choice.
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Loungers, Chaises and Daybeds
If you like putting up your feet, relaxing or napping (who doesn’t?) these extended seats are for you! From simple classic loungers that work in small spaces, to large and trendy outdoor daybeds, there are plenty of options for mixing and matching with your existing patio furniture. Since these are usually standalone items, they also offer an opportunity to update your style—think bold colours or cool modern designs—without purchasing a whole new set. On a tight budget? Hammocks can also provide colour and whimsy, not to mention a chill nap spot (although they can also be hazardous for little kids, so be sure to review safety specs carefully.)
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When a patio umbrella isn’t included in a furniture set, you can purchase a standalone option. These vary in size and coverage. They are often adjustable, so you can position them based on light and weather. As always, it’s a good idea to spend a day tracking the sun in your yard so you can determine the best size and placement before buying. Look for fade and mildew-resistant materials to get the most life from your umbrella.
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You’re probably picturing a permanent structure with a roof and open sides (and this is an option!) but you can also purchase pop-up, temporary gazebos with privacy curtains or panels to block out the sun, wind or light rain. A large enough gazebo can basically weather-proof your patio, offering cover from the elements, and extending the time you can comfortably spend outdoors.
Fireplaces and Electric Patio Heaters
From small enclosed wood-burning fire pits to gas fire pits to standup and overhead electric outdoor patio heaters, a little warmth starts patio season earlier and ends it later. Just be sure to check the rules in your municipality.
Here are a some common options:
- Classic firepit: A classic firepit can be made of rocks, stones, bricks or even a metal basin, and is fueled by wood, offering that signature campfire aroma.
- Propane and natural gas: These modern options don’t require you to chop or stack wood, but they do need a fuel source, either a portable propane tank or a connection to your home’s natural gas line. They look and feel like classic fires, but don’t smell like them.
- Electric heaters: What they lack in firelit ambiance, they make up for in convenience. Electric outdoor patio heaters are plug-and-play and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
- Fire pit tables: Why choose between a fire and a table when you can have both? Fire pit tables are relatively new furniture/fire hybrids, tables with propane or natural gas fires in the centre, so you can have your heat and eat too.
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4What type of patio furniture is best for me?
Mixing and matching furniture options to suit your needs is your best bet. Want an intimate dinner area for date nights, with some coverage from the sun? You’ll want a bistro set and an umbrella. Looking for a three-season outdoor space for entertaining? Try a conversation set, a gazebo and a fireplace.
Inventory your needs and make furniture and accessory selections to tick the boxes. No matter what you choose, just be sure you have the space to store items for the winter before purchasing.
5How should I arrange my patio furniture?
Many of the indoor furniture arrangement rules apply to outdoor furniture placement as well.
- Decide on a focal point and situate the furniture pieces around it.
- If your patio is adjacent to your house, place the longest piece of furniture against the longest wall, opposite the focal point.
- Plot a clear entrance and exit from the area, with enough clearance around furniture pieces for people to come and go easily. Leave more room in high-traffic areas.
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6How can I save money on patio furniture?
You’ll get great quality and prices at Walmart, but you can also check local second-hand listings (like Facebook Marketplace) for inexpensive finds (you may also luck out at yard sales!).
If you don’t mind putting in some elbow grease, you can give older pieces new life with a little TLC. Just be sure to examine items for mould, rust, etc. as these can sometimes make the item unsuitable for repair.
7How can I take my patio to the next level?
Consider installing a television or stereo system outdoors (just be sure you have appropriate housing in place to protect electronics from the elements) or purchase a portable or outdoor speaker for use outside.
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8How do I clean and store my patio furniture?
Ideally patio furniture is cleaned every week during regular use—cleared of debris, wiped down with mild soap and water, and covered during extreme weather. Shake out upholstered items such as cushions to remove dust and pollen. When it rains, tuck them away somewhere dry to prevent mould and mildew.
At the end of the season, put furniture away clean, dry and preferably covered, and make sure all cushions and soft items are stored in a dry location, off the floor. To save space, you can carefully stack furniture for space-efficient winter storage.
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