Patterico's Pontifications

6/7/2009

Seeking Advice on Patio Furniture

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:50 am



We’re about to buy a few things for the patio. A dinner table and chairs. A couch and chairs. A grill. And I’m looking for advice.

There are four in the family. We will grill the occasional steak and piece of fish. We will have one or two guests, typically.

What should we look for in patio furniture?

Your advice is welcome.

68 Responses to “Seeking Advice on Patio Furniture”

  1. In the grill dept. I recommend a Lynx. Well built and remarked upon by every guest at our little bashes for its efficiency. Try to avoid black iron seats and tables. They look good, but the sunshine will cause them to heat up, and your guest’s thighs will look like they were on the griddle. Think comfy cushions, or rattan..In fact, on one of our patios, here in Arizona, we have some furniture that looks like rattan but is some kind of Faux-rattan, which means it is impervious to the sun, and is washable by the garden hose.

    Gazzer (592258)

  2. Patterico:

    I recommend titanium, or perhaps carbon fiber, for the grill; it should be a built-in, full gas, electric, and solar.

    The Olympic sized pool will set off the grilling area nicely; the area itself should be roped off with red velvet, with a full bar where guests can wait until their table is ready.

    The executive chef should have worked at a major, Zagat-rated restaurant in that capacity for at least five years. I realize it will take a lot to bribe — to incentivize him to leave that establishment and cater your pool and tennis-court parties… but what’s more important, a little money, or the joy of having your own staff of eleven to cook you some waffles at three in the morning, should you desire?

    It would be somewhat overkill, and in poor taste, to build the smokehouse entirely underground; it’s perfectly acceptable to adapt a normal, pre-existing, above-ground installation… though you will probably have to check zoning regulations in your area before adding the second and third storeys.

    And the patio lawn would have a much nicer ambience if you went ahead with the plan you discussed, buying out all the neighbors and knocking down their erstwhile houses with a bulldozer for maximal viewing pleasure from your lawn, next to your golf course.

    I would get rid of the legacy lawn jockeys, though; they could be misinterpreted.

    You will probably have to move the helipad, as the updraft from the barbecue, smokehouse, grill, and luau pit could give the pilot palpitations.

    In fact, given the prevailing air currents, you might consider moving your entire compound to Upper Iguana for many reasons, not the least of which is the proverbial Californian “big one,” now eleven years overdue, during which everything east of the San Andreas fault will break off and slide into the Atlantic Ocean.

    But of course, it’s your private castle and your private county…

    Dafydd

    Dafydd the Earnest (990eb0)

  3. Patterico:

    I recommend titanium, or perhaps carbon fiber, for the grill; it should be a built-in, full gas, electric, and solar.

    The Olympic sized pool will set off the grilling area nicely; the area itself should be roped off with red velvet, with a full bar where guests can wait until their table is ready.

    The executive chef should have worked at a major, Zagat-rated restaurant in that capacity for at least five years. I realize it will take a lot to bribe — to incentivize him to leave that establishment and cater your pool and tennis-court parties… but what’s more important, a little money, or the joy of having your own staff of eleven to cook you some waffles at three in the morning, should you desire?

    It would be somewhat overkill, and in poor taste, to build the smokehouse entirely underground; it’s perfectly acceptable to adapt a normal, pre-existing, above-ground installation… though you will probably have to check zoning regulations in your area before adding the second and third storeys.

    And the patio lawn would have a much nicer ambience if you went ahead with the plan you discussed, buying out all the neighbors and knocking down their erstwhile houses with a bulldozer for maximal viewing pleasure from your lawn, next to your golf course.

    I would get rid of the legacy lawn jockeys, though; they could be misinterpreted.

    You will probably have to move the helipad, as the updraft from the barbecue, smokehouse, grill, and luau pit could give the pilot palpitations.

    In fact, given the prevailing air currents, you might consider moving your entire compound to Upper Iguana for many reasons, not the least of which is the proverbial Californian “big one,” now eleven years overdue, during which everything east of the San Andreas fault will break off and slide into the Atlantic Ocean.

    But of course, it’s your private castle and your private county…

    Dafydd
    OH! You’re my new favorite blogger fyi

    Dafydd the Earnest (3fb4a8)

  4. Comment by Dafydd the Earnest — 6/7/2009 @ 1:42 am

    LOL

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  5. About lawn chairs make sure they can handle rain. Storing cushions that are not suited for rain is often impossible. It rains when you are not there.

    I finally went to the cheap plastic chairs and leave them all year/snow ice, rain, sun.

    A umbrella is important for shade.

    RAH (a09a9d)

  6. I’m going to recommend very low end permanent campsite grill, pictured here. You cook over real charcoal, and the food tastes a lot better than on a high-end outdoor gas grill; that’s just bringing an indoor stove outside.

    Just put a triple thickness of aluminum foil on the bottom, to make it easier to pick up the used charcoal at clean-up time, and you are ready to go. Take a bag of Kingsford Match-light Charcoal, put the whole bag in the grill, and light the bag itself, and you’ll have the charcoal start easily.

    Mrs Pico wraps the potatoes in aluminum foil, and puts them directly in the charcoal.

    The outdoorsman Dana (474dfc)

  7. Whatever else you do, heed RAH’s advice on cushions. Squashy cushions feel great. Unless they got wet last night, then the surface dried out but a quart of water lurks in the center waiting for an unsuspecting derriere to squeeze it out.

    You can find patio sets with six chairs.

    Texas Bob (2f1728)

  8. As for the patio furniture, a good, stout picnic table, preferably used, with wood that’s been seasoned by many years in the sun, wind and rain, and is so heavy that you have to use your Ford F-150 and three strong friends to help you carry it into the back yard, is the best choice. If your lawn has some pitch to it, so that the table sits slightly off level, consider it added ambiance.

    The outdoorsman Dana (474dfc)

  9. It all depends on your weather o wind, precipitation, smog particles, etc. We went for wrought iron covered in rustoleum paint. They stay out year round. We just hose them down. Forget about the wind! The chairs and table have made it 20 years so far.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  10. I got a gas grill and hooked it up to the house gas line instead of using a tank to avoid the hassle. I thought I’d miss the charcoal, but I don’t. It’s great to be able to grill in the winter in Chicago. Most decent grills have a gas option.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  11. If you don’t want to go charcoal, a good quality two-burner should be enough. Weber?

    For the rest, let Mrs. P. pick whatever she likes and restrict yourself to “Yes, dear, I love it too. Where do we pay?”

    nk (c788b4)

  12. I grill a lot, probably 3 or 4 times a week for the past 20 years or so. I highly recommend the Weber gas grills. They are extremely reliable, and the heavy lid allows you to roast as well as grill.

    One suggestion is to get a grill that runs on natural gas, and have a plumber hook it up to your home gas system. That way you never have to schlep bottles of gas around, or worry about running out of gas during a long cook.

    Roscoe (c9e062)

  13. Also, if you have deciduous trees in your yard, be sure to put the picnic table under one of them. When the leaves fall in the autumn, leave them on the table to decay throughout the winter. Each spring, your picnic table will have added ambiance! :)

    The botanical Dana (474dfc)

  14. As for natural gas, I aready have a gas line outside the house but I did not not want the six foot flexible extension needed to go from the wall to the grill out there, as opposed to the butane bottle which is essentially connected directly to the grill. A replacement butane cylinder is $20.00 and as close as your nearest gas station.

    nk (c788b4)

  15. You can see my wife’s deck and patio furniture here (I had nothing to say about it except for the grill). Cedar is beautiful only for the first year in Chicago’s weather. After that, it’s a losing battle of annual refinishing.

    nk (c788b4)

  16. The BEST outdoor furniture, as mentioned above, is the resin furniture at ACE hardware, True Value, Do-It-Best, etc.
    Resin furniture doesn’t have to be painted, sanded, won’t splinter or rust, it stacks neatly out of the way, rain won’t hurt it, and it is 100% recyclable.
    The colors are nice, too.

    bill (39e8ac)

  17. Heat your house with gas, dry your clothes with gas, cook meat, fish and poultry outside with charcoal or wood. Get a Weber.

    glenn (2d382b)

  18. Consider a Big Green Egg for a grill. Its a ceramic kamado cooker/grill. I have never had a bad experience using on it. And it doesn’t have burners to rot out.

    chuckR (305825)

  19. Patio furniture with cushions is nice, b/c it’s nice on the tush. BUT, you do have to take the cushions indoors when it rains b/c they get moldy etc.

    Don’t laugh, but the Martha Stewart line at KMart is very stylish looking. I bought our patio set the day Martha was convicted as a protest against her unjust conviction! LOL

    A patio set (table 6 chairs) at K Mart is about $600. If you’re looking for higher end, Crate and Barrel has a lot of nice looking stuff, good quality. I used to work there, and customers really raved about their quality.

    fiestamom (cf47bb)

  20. Weather. Whatever you buy, keep in mind that grime and dust are ever-present; spiders build webs underneath chairs and benches, requiring constant maintenance, cushions get wet in surprise rains and mold, and anything metal will rust with alarming rapidity.
    Not to put a damper on your barbecue dreams, but…just saying.

    jrgunn (cc5919)

  21. Here in FL we have covered patios/porches and treat those areas like outdoor family rooms, down to the patio being carpeted with outdoor-grade carpet, speakers from the stereo system and all.
    Currently using a cheap, well made “Aussie’Walkabout charcoal grill (of all things) and Kingsford charcoal and some lighter fluid.
    My whole grilling thing is a relaxation effort so I take my time with it. If your a throwing “a steak on the grill real quick’ type…go for the gas. Less frustration. Shopping is the fun part anyway right Mrs. P? Just look for sturdy construction and solid cooking grates not plated wire.(My only issue with my Aussie)
    We purchased Carter and Grindle set with cushions (remember our patio is covered.) Have fun!

    pitchforksandtorches (4dd8c4)

  22. When we lived in San Jose, we used the following: Resin chairs, Glass top table, and a large patio umbrella, all from Costco. The table didn’t fit the umbrella well, and I had to cut the squarish opening in the lower frame (5 minute job with a hacksaw), but all went well. The umbrella was a 9 foot market job with a base to fit it (larger than standard). The only downside was the resin chairs. After a couple of years in the sun and heat, the green chairs faded. When we moved, we left the stuff behind. Seats 4 easily, 6 in a pinch. Larger tables can be found, but watch the umbrella/table fit in any case.
    Up here in Red County, we get more UV (elevation 4200 feet) and the budget is far tighter, so we went with a resin table and a 7 foot umbrella. Still can seat 6. The chairs and table spend the winter in a shed. The fabric on the umbrella faded (cheaper Home Depot variety), but it’s OK.
    The grill is a two-burner Weber propane. Bought at Depot, though it looks like Lowes has the franchise now. I have the cast iron grates, but the porcelain coated iron grates (or the stainless) would be better. We cook burgers en-mass and nuke them for quick dinners, so lots of capacity would be nice. As it is, we can do 8 burgers at a time with ease.
    For what it’s worth, it’s considerably cheaper to refill bottles up here than to use a swap service. I’ll take ours into Red County Seat and fill up at the KOA. The U-haul sells propane too, but not as cheaply. Your milege will vary. (I have spare bottles on the camping trailer, so I don’t worry about running out. I’, not about to plumb the house propane tank to the grill.)
    The wildfire people freak out over charcoal during fire season, so gas is much better.

    Good luck and good grilling.

    Red County Pete (751be6)

  23. I have teak patio furniture (dining table and chairs) and it has a warm beautiful look when it is maintained. The maintenance is the issue. If you buy teak expect to put in some long hours in the spring cleaning the teak and oiling it if you want to bring out the natural color.

    melty (9f4088)

  24. The thing with the plain-Jane gas grills, even a good one like the Weber, they don’t get hot enough in even mildly cool weather for the way I grill — “hot, clean, lubricated” (especially for steaks and fish). We have not had a good grilling day yet, here, as far as my grill and I are concerned. My Father’s Day present next week will include lava rocks which help keep the heat in, even in the winter. I dunno that that’s a concern where you are, though.

    nk (c788b4)

  25. If the patio is covered then wooden furniture may be practical. I have german-made folding deck chairs and matching end tables, with a full size slatted-top dining table, umbrella ready. Chairs should have one-piece cusions that tie to the back and seat. Very classy.

    Adironack chairs linked above are traditional favorites, but I’ve never found them comfortable unless padded.

    One “must-have”, a rocker or swing chair.

    Have fun!

    Giant Bob (3f1c9f)

  26. I recommend metal patio furniture w/ a good coating of enamel paint. I’ve had bad experiences with wooden outdoor furniture (cracks and splintering).

    Techie (482700)

  27. Brown and Jordan aluminum patio furniture–old line stuff here in Southern California, but the aluminum frames have powder coated paint and last forever. The seats and backs are strapped with webbing. You need to get them restrapped about every 20 years or so because the ozone/atmosphere doesn’t help. And the webbing has to be cleaned every couple of years because of the crud that’s in the air. Glass table tops are easy enough to clean. If you do get tired of your original color choice, you can get the frames repainted and put a different color strapping on. My mother in law’s set of Brown and Jordan lasted 55 years, and my wife and I are coming up on 30 years with our Brown and Jordan patio furniture. It still looks good.

    Mike Myers (674050)

  28. Go Wolf or Viking on the grill, and have it connected to the natural gas line.

    If you have time, go wood on the furniture.

    JD (fd2bc3)

  29. We bought our grill, 4 years ago, based on a Consumer Reports recommendation; and it’s still going strong! It wasn’t the most expensive one–a Weber Silver, I believe; but it’s served us well. It was a Consumer Reports Best Buy recommendation. I love CR’s recommendations, but I hate their politics–they’ve gotten, way too much, into demanding government regulation on everything.

    Donna (53fe77)

  30. We have teak lounges and a teak daybed, with Sunbrella cushions. Sunbrella is the only way to go around here. It doesn’t get soaked in the rain and the color holds up in the sun. The teak needs to be re-oiled every so often, but you can get the oil at the Home Despot.
    We also have some all-weather rattan chairs (with Sunbrella cushions).

    Our table and chairs are painted wood, which is the look I wanted but they do get killed by the sun. I don’t care, it’s what I wanted.

    Our grill is hooked up to the gas line. It’s by Bull, and we like it- very kind of industrial. There are lots of good brands.

    I don’t know exactly where you live, but I highly recommend Oasis furniture at PCH & Topanga Canyon. It looks like a bazaar, but the prices are great and they deal and deliver.

    MayBee (cca412)

  31. Dana is very wise about getting used but I don’t like picnic tables cause of you invite fat people over they can be very hard to get in and out of.

    But for serious you should check Craigslist for a grill because many many many grills are bought and not used. Save money now and then later when you are sure that y’all are backyard people what like to grill a lot then get a custom built grill island thingy with a little sink and such built in later like what the cool kids in the hills have.

    happyfeet (2d133f)

  32. oh. ca

    happyfeet (2d133f)

  33. oh. cause of *if* you invite fat people

    happyfeet (2d133f)

  34. here for example and when you pick it up you can stop over in Encino for healthy tasty chili

    happyfeet (2d133f)

  35. I’m not sure if it’s the filter or that caching thingy but I put a link for a grill in but it got stuck somewhere

    happyfeet (2d133f)

  36. Anything metallic will degrade due to the high salt content in the air from the nearby sea unless it is properly protected by paint, plating, powder-coating, or corrosion-resistant materials.
    Whatever you buy, the closer you are to the ocean, the shorter is its’ life expectancy.
    If you can’t hose it down and let it drip-dry, it doesn’t belong on a patio.

    AD - RtR/OS! (e874ac)

  37. Carpenter bees love that wood furniture!

    Amphipolis (42043b)

  38. I can attest Patty O’Furniture is a kindly Irishman and a good neighbor.

    jimboster (fe0b27)

  39. Shelley Hack also loves that wood furniture!

    happyfeet (2d133f)

  40. In this California heat, go with glass or plastic. Invest the big bucks in a grill. I spent 30 summers on the Jersey shore on a barrier island back East and the best patio furniture, winter & summer, was redwood, but it had to be treated every summer with paint due to the salt air and all fabrics stored inside over winter. Southern California presents a different set of problems. The low humidity and relentless sun is hard on wood furniture, makes aluminum brittle and any fabrics left to the elements disintegrate in a year. Go with glass or plastic. Especially with kids. Use it for a few years then toss it. But trhe money in the grill. A grill purchased for use in California by my folks has lasted 15 years in this climate. Back East, they’d last two summers. Charcoal, not gas. A family friend decades ago was injured when a gas grill exploded. Very rare event but family rule since 1975 has been no gas grills. Charcoal only. Give the food a better flavor, too. Use a charcoal chimney to light coals. Get’s ’em glowing in 45 mins. (I like burning a page of the LA Times in it as a starter. You’d enjoy that most likely as well.) No liquid starter. Leaves an after taste. A little black grill paint every few years from Home Depot keeps it serviceable. A good run for a $200 grill so far.

    The Banned In Boston and Pattericoville DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  41. Our pool is 25 years old and we live by it half the year, so here’s my time-tested advice for outdoor living: Go with the grill the cook likes but when it comes to exposed patio furniture, buy the least expensive look/feel you can tolerate and replace it every 2-3 years. Whether it’s weather, sun, insects, or general wear and tear, outdoor furniture degrades no matter how well you cover and protect it. Not only will you use it more, it’s easier to change the look and a new look will make it feel like a whole new room.

    DRJ (180b67)

  42. For furniture get good quality teak. Get some rubbermaid storage sheds for the cushions or have the good waterproof covers made for each chair or couch. As for aluminum or resin patio furniture Anything powder coated will last 3 years max in the Ca. sunshine and most of the resin stuff looks terrible.

    jim (6bfe6e)

  43. Weber Q for the grill. Its light enough to move it around and clean. Its big enough for a party of 4 or 5. Its very well made and reasonably priced. Don’t buy a Battleship BBQ.
    Furniture. Keep it simple with aluminum and padded fabric. That way its corrosion proof, light and strong. Pay more and get more.

    Rich Barry (251a14)

  44. Put your $ in the grill rather than the furniture.

    Buy disposable patio furniture in this Califorina climate, especially with kids. Plastic or glass, use it a few summers and toss it. I spent 30 summers on a barrier island along the Jersey shore back East and the most durable stuff in the elements was redwood, but every season it had to be retreated with redwood paint due to the salt air. And fabrics had to be stored inside over winter.

    Southern California presents a different set of problems. Low humidity and relentless sun drys out wood, disintegrates fabrics in less than a year and makes aluminum brittle. So get disposable stuff.

    Get a charcial grill, not gas. Purchased a nice one for the folks in 1994 and with a little TLC and occasional charcoal grill paint from Home Depot, they’ve gotten 15 years use out of it for a $200 investment.

    Family friend was seriously injured when a gas grill exploded several decades ago and although it’s a rare event, family rule since 1975 was no gas grills. Use a charcoal chimmney. Get’s the coals glowing in 45 mins. (I use a page from the LA Times to get them lit which I’m sure you’d enjoy doing as well.) Charcoal leaves a better taste to the food than gas, too.

    The Banned In Boston and Pattericoville DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  45. I agree with the aluminium choice – we’ve got the original Crate and Barrel table with chairs ten years later, and that’s over the course of some brutal summers and quite nasty winters, including tons of road salt from the nearby road.

    Go Wolf or Viking on the grill, and have it connected to the natural gas line

    But before you do that, take out a home equity line of credit first – you’re definitely going to shell out megabucks for anything from those guys.

    Dmac (f7884d)

  46. Get something Union made

    I mean – what could go wrong

    Actually DRJ’s advice is the best, also even if they are waterproof cover em if its going to rain when you can

    also buy cheap outdoor throw pillows and extra cushions if they are reasonably priced that way if (when) you entertain your furniture will look brand new

    EricPWJohnson (913bf1)

  47. If you win the lottery, get one of those scandanavian outdoor fireplaces with a chimney that you can also cook on. Rais makes a cool looking one.
    My experience on constructing outdoor living spaces is pretty high end, but a good outdoor space needs to be comfortable and warm.
    Set up your music, get some cheap lighting, start a fire, fill the cooler, put out the croquet set, set up wiffleball etc. get a cheap table and put a nice cloth on it… use the cloth to get some color and class… no one will lift it up and go “oh what a cheap ass table”
    Chairs need to be comfortable, which is a bummer because comfortable outdoor chairs cost $$$.
    So just get some plastic chairs for around the table and again dress them with different cloth for each holiday… then move the party to around the fireplace and sit in those low beach chairs.
    Invite some LAPD or LA County Sheriff officers so if the neighbors call the cops, they are already there.
    Get a pinata regardless of the actual holiday. Nothing spells fun like whacking the heck out of something inanimate. Fireworks are cool too, but in your line of work… well, maybe not.

    Anyway, fun, warm, bright, music, games, trump equipment

    SteveG (c99c5c)

  48. When we lived in Seal Beach, I wanted a comfortable, durable patio table and chairs we could use all year.

    We found good quality and value at Stat’s Floral on Seal Beach Blvd. The internet lists another store in Redondo Beach.

    We picked the Hanamint cast aluminum oval table in a basketweave pattern. Classically ornate, but not frilly. Not real inexpensive, but a good value for almost two decades.

    The table was big enough for 6 adults or 4 adults and 4 kids.

    Key point – we got 6 of the Hanamint chairs that swivel. We never had to scoot chairs up and back on the patio to sit. I always considered that a plus. If we had more than 6, we had some plastic chairs.

    Barbeque – We got the $150 “Aussie” at Target. It was the floor model and we rolled it right out of the store. Coooked great, lasted great. I’ve always expected a barbeque to rust out, so I’ve never wanted much financial or emotional involvement….

    Bill Lever (a16f35)

  49. You can’t beat a Weber for a grill. It grills and bakes. A little fridge for the drinks and salad. What more do you need?

    As for furniture, unless you have an expert butler or other staff, your patio furniture will be exposed to those sneaky elements. After the first winter storm (or freak summer one like this week) you will look at your ruined patio cushions and say crap.

    I’m working on more of a sofa/coffee table setup on my patio. Good place to hang out, and we can always fire up the Weber for dinner.

    Patricia (2183bb)

  50. Happyfeet wrote:

    Dana is very wise . . . .

    Let’s just leave it at that! :)

    The humble Dana (474dfc)

  51. In fact, Happyfeet’s comment was so great that I added it to my Testimonial List! :)

    The very humble Dana (474dfc)

  52. I like the Patio Classic line of charcoal grills. They’re similar to a Weber, but oval instead of circular, so they fit a bit better and it’s easier to reach the food. Also the lid opens up and rests on a couple of supports in back, so you don’t have to figure out what to do with it like you usually do with a Weber.

    Bill Roper (f93cf2)

  53. As the former owner of a casual furniture store specializing in the products you are interested in (16 yrs) these are my recommendations. These are the companies that had the best styles and finishes the fewest defects and the best customer service. There are basic types that are worth considering.

    Aluminum sling furniture is your basic sling chair pool furniture. Buy this from Winston Furniture a division of Brown Jordan (Winston actually bought Brown Jordan and then renamed its parent company). Winston is without question the best in the business. Slings can be replaced and should last 5-9 years depending on use and climate. Slings are easier to care for than cushions.

    Cast aluminum furniture is still aluminum but because it is cast as opposed to wrought it can be much more ornate and decorative. Hanamint makes a very good product and is a very reliable supplier. You will need cushions with cast aluminum because it is not soft.

    As far as materials go aluminum is practically indestructible and if you do have a problem frames can be welded, slings can be replaced, helicoils installed if a threaded socket strips and entire sets can be powdercoated 10 years down the road. Improvements in finishes throughout the industry mean that all of the better manufacturers have good powdercoating setups. Watch out for the off brand chinese products because they tend to have problems with powdercoats peeling and have no ability to stand behind the product.

    The improvements in finishes mean that wrought iron can be a great product if you like the selection. OW Lee and Meadowcraft have very good wtought iron products. However, Meadowcraft, which has been in business for over 100 yrs, is (rumor has it) in bankruptcy again so go with OW Lee. You will want cushions with wrought iron furniture unless you are like my mother who has wrought iron that is over 50 years old and still in use. I don’t think that she knows they make cushions.

    I don’t recommend resin because I don’t personally like it. Styles are limited and if you are in a cold climate it can break. On the other hand, if you don’t mind the way it looks and live in a warm climate I am told it can last a very long time. Talk to Casual Line in Winter Garden, Florida.

    As far as grills are concerned find one you like. Personally I think it is idiocy to spend $10k on a Viking outdoor grill when Lowe’s and Costco have good ones from companies like JennAire that cost a tenth as much. I also like Weber.. the better ones.

    Oh.. buy swivel chairs. With the sole exception of wrought iron where there are some great spring chairs that are comfortable, swivel chairs are by far the best. We sold swivels 20-1 over any other when we sold with a table for dining.

    There are other options as well. Chicago Wicker makes very good and not too pricey, in-country stocked, chinese manufactured vinyl wicker (woven over an aluminum frame). Their customer service and warranty was always great.

    Each of the above manufacturers also makes a complete line of deep seating and other products suitable for what is now known as the “outdoor room”.

    Good luck.

    Nadador (e20427)

  54. We live 1200 miles N. of you, Patterico, and we live outdoors all summer. Short answer: comfort trumps all else. Pick comfy furniture you could sit in forever and a BBQ that is easy to cook on (multi burners, side trays etc). Easy to clean materials are great, too.

    Here in the Great White North we also added a heat lamp for use on chillier eves cuz it extends our season by a month or two on either end. YMMV in LA, of course.

    ras (20bd5b)

  55. Stainless steel propane grill, you use it more often if it’s easy to clean and available without advance preperation. Make sure it has good wheels, a top that stays up, a temp guage, a side burner with a push buttion sparker, and a cover.

    Go with plastic chairs you can spray and let air dry, lots of new colors and designs available at Home Depot, or Lowe’s. Costs range from about 6 to 10 bucks at the low end, and 50 to 60 for deluxe. Lots of nice stuff available in the 15 to 25 dollar range.

    Careful with tables, round ones take more room than you might expect, but in any case make sure it’s strong and stable even under an unbalanced load. Easy to clean is a very big concern, I use an oil-cloth cover and tie it down.

    Skip the umbrella and go with a slant-leg canopy, you get more shade and it folds down and can be taken to the beach or camping. You can also buy a screen kit for the canopy and keep the bugs out.

    Ropelight (e36d4f)

  56. I agree about hooking up the gas grill to the house lines as long as you keep the option to hook up a bottle. That way, if some natural disaster cuts off the house gas, you can take out the spare bottle (or two) you keep in the emergency kit and keep cooking. Lets you take it somewhere else, too. Also, make sure the grill has side burners; that way you can cook pretty much anything.

    SDN (85c065)

  57. For grilling, I have found nothing better than a “Big Green Egg” http://www.biggreenegg.com/
    I can control the temperature + / – 5 degrees from 150 to well over 700. It uses Lump Charcoal..not briquets. I don’t do much meat, but I prepare chicken or fish several times a week for the last 8 years. Check it out before buying one of those traditional grills that can’t compete in the temperature control arena.

    Maury Stuffmann (c987c1)

  58. I’ll add to the Weber endorsement. I’ve had a two burner for almost 20 years. The nice thing about Weber is the replacement parts are easy to find. I replaced the grill and flavor bars once and it works as well as the day I bought it. The only other must for barbeque is a very good digital thermometer.

    PC14 (82e46c)

  59. Many 4 chair patio sets come with 2 swivel and 2 fixed chairs and for just a few dollars more you can get 4 swivel chairs, which is what I did.

    Jeff (c3177f)

  60. Too bad you are missing a great chance to be endearing to you mother-in-law since this is the kind of softball question that relatives thrive on. “When can we come over?”

    I once had a tough job in a paper plant as a process engineer. The mechanics test your mettle and dismiss your ideas until you develop a rapport of some kind. The best advice for that job and many others is to ‘ask for some help’ from the supervisor (adversary) like, “could you get me a wrench for my use so I could test the ‘units’ on my own?” Once they think they are helping you, you are on their team and things go much easier!

    T. Sterling (0fdbd2)

  61. It’s really windy here in the … windy city. So we have wrought iron furniture. The wind blows right through, and you just have to rustoleum once in a while. My cheapie Char Broil combo charcoal / gas grill has lasted me 5 years in the elements, and I use it 3 times a week, 12 months a year. Once in a while, I have to clean out the burners, but that’s it. I have it wired to my porch, so it doesn’t fall over in the wind.

    carlitos (7d2345)

  62. I know I’m really late to the party, but…

    The biggest issue for both the patio furniture and the grill is how you live your life. If you get the nice stuff set up once and leave it like that forever, you get one answer. If you shove everything on the patio to one side for a season, then move that out into the yard and make a dining/entertaining area for a few months, then tuck that away for a special project — well, you’ll get a wildly different answer.

    Since you’ve got kids, I’m suspecting the latter more than the former (if I’m wrong, just blow off the advice). So here’s the recommendation if the wind is blowing that way: get a Consumer Reports Best Buy propane grill, an extra propane tank, and check that one off as done. Then look into a reconfigurable table that can change size (with a minimum of your family’s size). Patio umbrellas are a must, but are so inexpensive these days you can get a few rather than worry about each one. Finally, get nice solid oversized teak chairs for your family — they’re never too hot, you can slap a cushion on ’em, you can leave ’em out, and they’re luxurious without being too pricey. On the flip side, you have to oil them every couple of years and the costs add up if you want one for every potential houseguest. So get enough for your family, and give ’em up for company when they come over.

    Then get some stackable chairs and folding tables, and tuck them away somewhere. Garden parties are temporary phenomena, not permanent burdens.

    cthulhu (217ae8)

  63. Oh, one more thing: IIRC, you’re in PV. Teak and resin chairs won’t get eaten by salt spray — and that might figure into the grill choice, as well.

    cthulhu (217ae8)

  64. We’re going to set up the dining table on the porch and leave it like that. Plan is to have a storage area for the cushions and put them away after every meal.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  65. I promise you, if you get SunBrella you don’t need to put cushions away after every meal.

    MayBee (cca412)

  66. In post number 6 that Dana mentioned I have a standard park grill from jamestown advanced products and it is absolutly wounderful. I have had it for a few years and is a great “park” type grill. I am in the process of getting one of there picnic tables. I live in Jamestown and have had the pleasure of touring there facility and it is a very high quality shop. I would recomend any of there products.

    Zach (1ffb65)


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