Best Outdoor Benches

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

70 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
520 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best outdoor benches

Last Updated December 2019

An outdoor bench perched on your front porch or entrance creates one of the most charming signs that guests are welcome in your home. An outdoor bench in your garden is an invitation to sit and relax while taking in the fresh air. Choosing the right bench for your property means finding one that fits into your landscape and house style.

Keep this question in mind when shopping for an outdoor bench: what material will look good in the spot where you’d like to put the bench? Your new bench should reflect the surrounding outdoor space. For example, if you have a woodsy, natural landscape and classic home, a wood or antiqued metal bench will blend in well. For a contemporary home, a sleek metal bench adds a striking addition to your curb appeal.

Use a new bench and decorative planter or small table to create a focal point in your outdoor space or turn an empty spot in the yard into a peaceful destination. Our buying guide and recommendations can help you determine what material fits in your yard and how to make it one of the most comfortable destinations in your home.

Backless outdoor benches are multitaskers. Use them as seating, a plant holder, a coffee table, or towels holder near the pool. You can even use them indoors in a mud room, laundry room, or hallway.

Key considerations

Size

If you’re placing an outdoor bench on your porch or front entryway, then size likely counts. If you’re placing it on a patio or in your yard, length shouldn’t be an issue.

Length: Outdoor benches that fit two people tend to be about 40 to 53 inches long. You’ll also find shorter stool-style benches that are about 20 inches long to fit smaller spaces.

Depth: Most benches measure between 16 and 25 inches deep for comfort.

Height: Outdoor benches vary between a low of 17 inches and a high of 34 inches. 

Style

There’s no shortage of outdoor bench designs, from classic cast iron garden seats to vintage wrap-around tree benches to durable storage units that double as seating. If you choose a metal bench or a metal and wood model, you’ll find an enormous selection of different backrest designs from scrolls and slats to geometrics to embedded wording.

Material

Outdoor benches, just like any other outdoor furniture, need to be durable and sturdy to withstand weather. You’ll find benches made from the following materials and many more:

Soft wood: Pine and cedar are popular examples. Wood furniture can age naturally or be finished for added protection from the elements.

Hardwood: Teak and acacia are durable choices for outdoor furniture.

Metal: Aluminum is strong and lightweight. While it doesn’t rust, it may develop an oxidized powdery finish if left untreated in harsh environments. Wrought and cast aluminum are the most popular bench materials because they resist corrosion better than other metals. Steel is typically powder coated for protection against moisture.

Resin: Various resins and other plastics like polystyrene can simulate the look of wood.

Weight limit

Read the fine print to see how much weight a bench will hold. Some benches can hold between 300 and 550 pounds, for example, depending on the number of people the seat can fit.

Maintenance

Do you prefer a bench that can be sprayed down with a hose or one that requires a little more TLC on an annual basis? If you opt for a polystyrene simulated-wood bench, for example, it will never need to be painted or varnished. All it needs is a quick hosing down. Wood tends to need annual oiling or coating to protect it from warping, peeling, and cracking. The legs and body of a metal bench may have a powder-coated finish to prevent the material from rusting or corroding. The coating is thick like paint, then baked and cured so it doesn’t flake or peel off.

EXPERT TIP

A metal bench in direct sunlight could get too hot to touch, so put down a seat cushion for extra comfort.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Finishes and colors

You’ll find outdoor metal benches finished in antiqued copper or bronze, solid black or with specks of copper, white, red, or shades of gray. Each finish and color will either blend into your outdoor surroundings or create a pop of color that stands out in the landscape. Wood and resin benches are often finished in neutral colors, from light to dark, to match the outdoors.

Gliders

A gliding outdoor bench adds even more relaxation. Look for benches with smooth, quiet ball bearing glides. A glider takes up less room in a limited space, such as a porch, than a swinging bench or rocking chair that needs additional room to sway back and forth.

Storage

Outdoor benches that include storage bins are basic and utilitarian and usually made from heavy-duty resin material. You can use a resin bench to store a hodgepodge of outdoor items. The bin can also be used on a front porch to keep mail and packages out of sight.

Pop-up table

There are some outdoor metal benches that include a built-in, pop-up table, a highly functional style of bench. A three-seater metal bench converts to a two-seater bench when a pop-up table in the center is lifted to hold drinks and food. You can use the table to hold plants as well. Look for a table that locks in place when lifted. You might consider using one of these benches in a more protected area, such as on a covered porch or deck, so the table hardware stays rust-free and operates smoothly.

Anchors

If you plan to anchor the bench to the ground, you’ll want to find one with holes in the legs to do just that. If you can’t find a bench with holes for this purpose, you can drill your own holes, screw in bolts, and buy an anchoring kit to do the job.

You’ll see many benches made from acacia hardwood. That’s because it’s one of the most eco-friendly and abundant trees in the world. Like teak, this dense, durable hardwood holds up exceptionally well outdoors.

Accessories

Outdoor cushion: Pillow Perfect Indoor/Outdoor Carmody Bench Cushion
Use a cushion to make your outdoor bench more comfortable and colorful. This contemporary polyester cushion from Pillow Perfect is weather and fade resistant and attaches securely to the bench with ties.

End table: Outdoor Interiors Eucalyptus End Table
Add to the usefulness of your bench with a small table. This beautiful table made of sustainably grown, durable eucalyptus resists weathering and rot. Oil it lightly a few times a year to keep its luxurious finish.

Chair leg caps: IMPRESA Wrought Iron Chair Glides
Protect your wooden deck from scratches from wrought iron furniture with this pack of 32 UV-resistant plastic glides that fit on most patio furniture using nothing more than a rubber mallet.

Teak oil: Star Brite Premium Teak Care Kit
Protect the finish of your teak outdoor bench with this kit that contains everything you need — cleaner, brightener, and oil — to keep your furniture looking gorgeous for years.

EXPERT TIP

Resin benches can easily be spray-painted to match your outdoor patio set. Be sure to choose a paint that’s meant to withstand the weather.


Staff  | BestReviews

Outdoor bench prices

In the $35 to $70 range, you’ll find smaller, unadorned wood and some metal slatted benches. Benches at this price are around 20 inches long for adult size. You’ll also see a number of kid-size metal, wood, and resin benches.

In the $70 to $90 range, you’ll find plenty of metal benches measuring 50 inches long, with a variety of decorative backrest designs from which to choose. You’ll see sturdy backless wood and steel benches and resin storage benches at this price, too.

Between $90 and $170, you’ll find more iron, cast aluminum, and teak backed and backless benches. This price range includes elaborate back designs, curved styles, and many benches that are 60 inches long. You’ll find many gliding benches and transformer bench-to-table models in this range as well.

DID YOU KNOW?

Though hardwood is usually (but not always) harder than softwood, the difference is in the way the trees reproduce. Hardwood trees (like eucalyptus and beech) produce seeds with hard coverings. Softwood trees (like redwood and pine) produce cones and seeds without coverings. Hardwood trees grow more slowly and are more dense, making them an extremely durable furniture material.

Tips

  • Put your garden bench in the shade for added comfort. Sitting in the sun will not only heat up the bench (regardless of its material) but also make it too hot for you to sit there for long. Place a bench under a large, leafy tree, arbor, or an adjustable outdoor umbrella.
  • Place your outdoor bench on a suitable surface. If you decide to put your bench out in your garden or on the grass, consider taking the extra step of creating a suitable surface first. A well-tamped bed of gravel, paving stones, or flagstones can create a dry and stable base for the bench.
  • Use the right protective product. When sealing a wooden outdoor bench, make sure to use a clear, UV-blocking urethane that’s made specifically for outdoor use.

Other products we considered

If you’re looking for a functional, multitasking bench, we love the Premiere Products Resin Convert-A-Bench. The back flips over to create a table. Buy two and they flip over to connect and create a full picnic table with bench seating. It’s easy to assemble and the resin material is easy to maintain. The sturdy Christopher Knight Home Colonial Outdoor Bench is simply stunning. Made with an acacia wood top and metal frame and legs, this backless bench is a spacious 63 inches long. It looks good indoors or out and blends well in contemporary, traditional, or rustic settings. Firepit lovers who prefer curved benches will appreciate the Stonegate Designs Fire Pit Bench. Buy six to eight of these weather-resistant cedar/fir benches and they’ll form a complete 13-foot-diameter circle around your firepit. These simple benches are easy to assemble, and if you run into trouble, customer service is top-notch.

Outdoor benches can be used indoors, too. Use a plastic storage bench with a cutout as a kitty litter hideaway or a decorative metal bench with cushions as a living room sofa.

FAQ

Q. What can I do to stop my bench’s legs from sinking into the ground?A. There are several DIY fixes for this problem. If you can’t place your bench on cement, stone, wood, or other hard material, there are solutions. Some of these look better than others, but they all work:

  • Tennis balls: Cut an X in four tennis balls and slip one under each leg.
  • Jar lids: Slip a jar lid under each leg.
  • Pavers: Put a paver under each leg.
  • Ground cloth: Lay a black outdoor ground cloth under the bench.
  • Caps: Place clear plastic furniture leg caps or pucks under each leg.
  • Plastic paving grid: Use a plastic paving driveway grid under the bench and the grass will grow through.
     

Q. How can I clean my metal outdoor bench?
A.
Metal can last a lifetime, but it can look aged before its time if not properly cleaned and maintained. First, remove any bird droppings, sunscreen, or other residue from the surface as soon as you see it. Clean the metal with a cloth or sponge using water and a mild non-abrasive soap. If you scratch the finish, it can expose the bare metal to moisture. If you find any rust, lightly sand it and apply rustproof touch-up paint. If you see oxidation forming on aluminum furniture, clean the area with a solution of equal parts of water and white vinegar.
 

Q. What’s the difference between rust and patina?
A.
Sometimes there’s no difference. Patina is the aging of the finish and changing of the color over time. For example, a teak bench may develop a handsome grayish patina over time. Rust is a type of patina that forms on iron benches. If a rusty patina isn’t your preference, take care to store your metal bench under a breathable cover outdoors or indoors in a cool, dry space when harsh weather hits. Copper benches may develop a blue or green patina over time. Many people love this look, and one way you can hasten the process is by spraying ammonia on the metal and letting it dry outdoors in the sun.
 

Q. How can I best maintain a wooden outdoor bench?
A.
Wood is durable for outdoor use, but only if its properly maintained. If you have an unsealed bench, stain or seal it before leaving it outside. You’ll need to reapply the finish on an annual basis. For hardwood benches, use teak oil yearly to preserve its beauty. Clean your finished wood bench with a soft cloth and soapy water weekly to protect the finish. Wipe up spills immediately or the finish could be damaged. If you prefer to keep your hardwood bench unfinished so it naturally ages, the wood will turn a soft, silvery gray, but it will continue to stay strong for a long time.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Marilyn
    Marilyn
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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