Improve Your Social Distanced Hangouts with These Outdoor Furniture Sets

Photo Courtesy: Christian Parley/Fresno Bee/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it’s become increasingly clear that it will alter more than just the way we experience and enjoy recreational activities and relaxation. In fact, until researchers create a safe, effective and accessible vaccine, social distancing — which often means keeping our gatherings outdoors — will remain the norm.

If you’re like me, you probably bought a few inexpensive, portable camping chairs when it seemed like something bigger and better wasn’t worth the investment. Clearly, it’s time for something a bit more functional, especially if you plan to host a few close friends for socially distanced hangs. Whether you have access to a backyard, a balcony, an apartment building roof or a patio, there’s a patio set out there to fit any space and budget. (And while you’re at it, try sprucing up your outdoor space even more with a few of our standout recommendations.)

How Do You Clean Patio Furniture So It Lasts a Lifetime?

No matter the size of your patio set, it’s always a fairly big investment — one that you hope will last years to come, if not a lifetime. Space willing, move furniture sets indoors during inclement weather or cover them during the winter months to protect against ice and snow damage. In addition to making sure outdoor sets are protected from the elements, you should learn how to properly clean your furniture, no matter the material.

Photo Courtesy: @Netflix/Twitter

Here are some pro tips for common types of outdoor furniture:

  • Metal: To clean wrought iron and stainless steel, use a “quarter cup of mild dish soap added to a gallon of warm water” and sponge it down (via HGTV). If rust is your problem, use steel wool to remove the oxidized areas and try repainting the scraped metal.
  • Fabric (Mesh, Vinyl, Furniture Cushions): From seat covers to stretched vinyl backing, fabrics can be tricky to maintain when they’re kept outside. For an easy clean, try using a solution of dish soap and warm water. If the fabric components can be removed, consult the tags to see if they are washer friendly, but opt for the clothesline over the dryer, which can notoriously shrink and damage fabrics like these.
  • Plastic: Because it’s inexpensive, plastic and resin furniture is quite popular and, luckily, pretty easy to clean. Strong cleaners can scuff plastic, so try a simple all-purpose cleaner (or some warm water and soap) and wipe down with a sponge or cloth.
  • Wood (Teak, Wicker, etc.): For soft wood, HGTV recommends skipping the power washer. Instead “use a mild oil soap or soapy water and a soft brush or sponge to remove any grit or grime.” For harder woods, “use a weak solution of laundry detergent or one of the many commercial products available specifically for the job.” Pro tips: Skip teak oil, which encourages mildew growth, and for hard to clean wicker, try getting into those crevices with a toothbrush.
  • Dealing with Mold and Mildew? The experts over at HGTV suggest the following: “Make sure the furniture is dry and scrub with a brush to remove surface mold and spray with a hose to rinse. Once dry-scrubbed, full-strength white vinegar and a hard brush will remove stubborn mildew.” Voilà!

Under $100: Table and Chairs for Two

It’s important to keep our social circles small these days — and maybe yours is really small. If so, there’s nothing wrong with that! In fact, it might help your wallet in the long run. There are a lot of nifty chair and table sets on the market, but this metal and textile three-piece outdoor bistro set is one of the best.

Photo Courtesy: Home Depot

The cheerful red color of this chair and table set adds a pop of color that is sure to brighten any backyard brunch or afternoon hang. The set is made of durable, weather-resistant steel with a glass tabletop, making both the chairs and table easy to clean. Best of all, all three pieces fold up and can be stored with ease during winter months. For those of us who have been getting by with beach chairs, this set is a wonderful upgrade at a steal of a price.

Under $250: A Real Conversation Starter

Need a few more seating options? The Costway 4-Piece Wicker Patio Conversation Set comes with a small table, loveseat and two chairs, all of which are made of high quality rattan wicker. Not only is it an easy way to completely furnish a small garden patio or balcony but it’s an unbeatable deal for the price.

Photo Courtesy: Home Depot

Does wicker sound a bit uncomfortable to you? Don’t worry. Both the loveseat and chairs come equipped with thick seat cushions for added comfort — and, you know, less wood weave digging into you. It might not have a plush cushion, but the coffee table does have an easy-to-clean glass top, making it the perfect place for drinks and snacks. Now, all you need is a firepit!

Under $400: An Elegant Spin on the Classic Picnic Table

Looking for a functional statement piece? The Safavieh Rocklin Teak Brown 4-Piece Wood Patio Conversation Set is just that. With the sun-bleached charm of a casual living room set, the beautiful acacia wood table and chairs with beige cushions give your outdoor area a classy look.

Photo Courtesy: Home Depot

We love the sturdiness of this set. Not only is it durable and weather resistant, but cleaning it is a breeze, especially compared to other woods like wicker. In addition to loving the look of this set, customers praise the ease of assembly. The only drawback? The cushions are just a little too thin for long-lasting comfort.

Under $700: Room for the Whole (Socially Distanced) Family

Whether you’re trying to keep your gatherings under 10 people or less or you just want to fill out a larger space with more seating options, the Hampton Bay Crestridge 7-Piece Outdoor Patio Dining Set is a perfect choice. In fact, after setting it up, you’ll probably want to have breakfast, lunch and dinner outside from here on out — and we don’t blame you.

Photo Courtesy: Home Depot

The rust-resistant, powder-coated steel frames and stylish, weather-resistant sling fabric of the six chairs perfectly complement the ceramic-tile tabletop. Backed by a two-year frame and fabric warranty, this set is worth the investment. Add an umbrella (the table is equipped to hold one), and you’ll have everything you need for your next socially distanced hang in the sun.

Over $1,000: Move Your Couch Potato Lifestyle Outdoors — and Keep It Classy

Maybe you really want to transform your outdoor space into a total oasis — and will spare no expense to do so. If you’ve ever wanted to bring the hotel-rooftop-pool vibe straight to your backyard, then you need not look any further than this Sanger 5-Piece Wicker Patio Conversation Set.

Photo Courtesy: Home Depot

This stylish conversation set comes with a two- or three-person sofa, a loveseat, two arm chairs and a coffee table, all of which are crafted from sturdy frames and weather-resistant wicker in a rich brown hue. The removable foam cushions come in a neutral beige color that blends well with other decor on your patio, and each piece’s sleek, modern lines add an air of modern class to the space. Whether you’re gathering around a fire pit or barbecue, this stylish set is sure to beautify your patio and keep your guests feeling comfy all day and night.