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How to buy the best sun loungers and outdoor seating

Our sun lounger and outdoor seating buying guide reveals the different types of seats available, the best features to look out for, how much you should expect to pay and which stores to buy from
Ian Molyneaux
Sun lounger

If you haven't headed down to the shed recently to dust off your cobweb-covered patio furniture, you may be looking to buy outdoor seating or sun loungers for the very first time. 

However, with lots of different types of seating on offer, it can be confusing trying to find the right ones for your garden. You may want to consider who will be using your new seats, the price, the materials they're made from and how they look.

To help you choose we've listed the most common seating designs along with their pros and cons. We also highlight the features you should look out for when buying sun loungers and outdoor seating, as well as some popular retailers to buy your garden furniture from.


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How to choose the best outdoor seating: at a glance

Here are some of the most important questions you'll need to think about when buying a sun lounger and outdoor seating:

  • What will you be using it for? With such a range of sun loungers and outdoor seating available,  it's a good idea to really think about how you plan to use them. It may be that you just want a couple of sun loungers to relax on when the weather's nice or alternatively maybe you're looking for a complete outdoor sofa set so you can host dinner parties for family and friends.
  • Can it be stored easily? The UK is generally only warm enough to comfortably sit outside for around six months a year. With this in mind, you'll need to consider where or how you'll store your sun loungers and garden seating during the winter months. How heavy are the items? Can they easily fold away? It's worth thinking about these features before you make a purchase. 
  • How much will it cost? Prices for sun loungers and outdoor seating can go from relatively low to extraordinarily expensive. High street stores and supermarkets will have their own range if you're looking for something more affordable, while designer options are also readily available if you are willing to fork out a bit more. 

Types of outdoor seating

Picking the right sun lounger and outdoor seating will depend on your budget, style preference and the size of garden. Below you will find the main types available:

Sun loungers

Sun lounger

Many people only get to enjoy time out on a sun lounger while they're abroad, but if you'd prefer not to wait for your annual holiday then buying your own could be a worthwhile decision. The most basic can cost as little as £20, while it's not difficult to find bespoke offerings for a few hundred pounds. 

At their most simple, sun loungers are made from a metal frame with a polyester back and seat. The high-end models may be made of rattan or wood and come with cushions, contemporary designs and holders to put your drinks. 

Pros

  • Sun loungers come in a range of designs and colours
  • Most are adjustable and can be moved easily 
  • Budget options are available

Cons

  • Need space to store sun loungers during the colder months of the year 
  • You may need to buy covers to protect them from the elements

Deckchairs

Deckchair

There aren't many things in life that feel as quintessentially British as a stripy-coloured folding deckchair. Synonymous with trips to the seaside, this type of outdoor seating is widely available for around £30. 

Traditionally made from wood and canvas fabric, it is their simplicity that also makes deckchairs so popular. As with sun beds you will need somewhere to store them when not in use.

Pros 

  • Foldable which makes them great if you're short on space/storage

Cons

  • Generally don't come with armrests
  • Often non-adjustable

Recliners 

Set of outdoor recliner chairs

Recliners are somewhere in between sun loungers and garden chairs, making them popular with people who like to sit upright in a chair but may also wish to rest or snooze in a more horizontal position. Often the mechanism to tip back requires just a lifting of the armrests, although this all depends on the design. Some will also have adjustable footrests.  

The prices for recliners vary with some high street stores selling them at around £30, others can creep up to hundreds of pounds. 

Pros

  • Combines a sun lounger and chair so you only need to buy one seat
  • Available in a range of designs 
  • Often foldable so convenient for travelling or camping
  • Budget options available

Cons

  • Requires storage in colder months

Day beds

Day bed

If you thought that beds were meant to be confined to the bedroom, then you would be mistaken - a growing trend has seen day beds finding their way into UK back yards and gardens. Starting at £200 for a basic design, prices can jump up to well over £1,000 for premium products. 

Pros

  • Multiple people can use a day bed at the same time

Cons

  • Not suitable for smaller outdoor areas
  • Large space needed to store the bed out of season
  • Can be a lot more expensive than other options

Benches

Garden bench

If you're looking for more traditional outdoor seating, a bench might be the answer. There is a huge array of types and sizes, ranging from handmade bespoke designs to flat-pack options straight off the production line. 

Prices can start for under £100 from high street stores and go up to a few hundred pounds. Benches are often made from wood, metal or plastic. 

Pros

  • Some benches are weather resistant so can remain outdoors all year
  • Budget options available

Cons

  • Can be heavy and difficult to move

Sofas

Garden sofa

Garden sofas are becoming increasingly popular as people opt for outdoor furniture that offers more comfort than simply sitting on hard chairs around a patio table. Garden sofas essentially allow people to lounge outside during warmer months and are brilliant for entertaining guests. 

There is a huge variety of designs in terms of materials, sizes, colours and shapes. Prices start at around £350 and can go up to £2,000 for luxury options. 

Pros

  • Great for socialising and entertaining
  • Come in a huge variety of designs and colours
  • Budget options available

Cons

  • Will need to cover or store away in colder/wetter seasons
  • Spilt drinks and mucky paws can spoil the fabric
  • Can be expensive 

Hammocks and swings

Hammock

For many people the ultimate relaxation experience is lying back in a hammock watching the clouds drift by above. So the good news is that you now don't need two large tree trunks to tie a hammock to, as some options can be hung on a freestanding metal frame. 

If getting in and out of a hammock sounds like hard work, there are also dozens of swing seat designs. These include hanging egg chairs or a more traditional swing chair. Hammocks can cost as little as £25, with swinging egg chairs typically priced over £200. 

Pros

  • Hammocks an be easily taken down and stored 
  • Gently swinging is thought to increase relaxation 

Cons

  • Swing chairs and hanging eggs chairs will need to stored or covered during colder/wetter seasons

Rocking chairs

Rocking chair

With prices starting at around £80, garden rocking chairs are typically made from wood, wicker or plastic and they can offer a whimsical vibe to your outdoor area. 

Pros 

  • Gentle rocking is thought to increase relaxation
  • There are chairs to suit all budgets
  • Depending on the material, rocking chairs can be left outside for most of the year

Cons

  • Can be heavy compared to normal chairs due to extra material used to build
  • Not typically foldable so might be harder to stow away  

Want to know more about materials, furnishings and covers? Read our guide to garden furniture


What’s the most durable material for outdoor seating?

Rattan outdoor furniture

Durability is an important factor when deciding which type of sun lounger or outdoor seating to buy. How they withstand wear, pressure or damage can impact how long your outdoor furniture stays in good shape. Much of this is down to the material the sun loungers and outdoor seating are made from. Here are some of the more durable materials to look out for: 

  • Rattan is very hardy as well as being lightweight. If it is well looked after rattan furniture can last for years.
  • Wood and in particular teak is used for outside furniture due to its high density, making it excellent for durability.  However, wooden furniture also has a disadvantage as it requires regular maintenance and it's prone to movement.
  • Plastic is generally much more affordable than other materials on the market and it is extremely durable. Most plastic furniture can be left outside all year round and can withstand tough weather conditions.
  • Metals such as aluminum, stainless steel and wrought iron are all popular and known to be very durable. However some people may find it too uncomfortable and rigid, even with cushions. 

We run through the pros and cons of each of the materials above in our garden furniture buying guide


Sun lounger and outdoor seating features to look for

Set of two sun loungers

Here are some extra features that you may want to look out for when buying a sun lounger or outdoor seating: 

  • Recline - having an adjustable sun lounger or seat will give you the option of changing your seating position. You can sit upright or lie down.
  • Foldable - this will make it easier to take your seating with you on camping trips or days out, and foldable options take up less room when you need to stow them away during winter. 
  • Removable covers and cushions - handy if you want to take them off to give them a wash. 
  • Covers - getting a protective cover included with your seating will keep it safe from the elements. It will also save you time and money sourcing a well-fitted cover yourself.  
  • Sun shades - some loungers come with a built-in sun shade so you don't need to buy a parasol to get protection from the sun. 
  • Drink holder - this allows you to keep a drink close at hand and means you won't have to stand up and walk over to a table.
  • Wheels - these make manoeuvring your outdoor seating much easier. 
  • Table - some seats come with a side table attached. Great for resting your book on while you're relaxing. 
  • Built-in pillows - just for a little extra comfort. 

Take outdoor entertaining to the next level by investing in a pizza oven or fire pit


What are zero gravity sun loungers? 

Zero gravity sun lounger

Zero gravity sun loungers are designed to give people a feeling of weightlessness and achieve a higher level of relaxation. Zero gravity sun loungers actually have more in common with recliners than sun beds as they also rely on users being able to tip backwards from a sitting position. 

The idea is the lounger tips backwards, therefore elevating your legs and feet above your heart and spreading your weight across your entire body. Zero gravity sun loungers were allegedly invented by NASA who needed to find ways of relieving the stress on an astronaut's body as they launched into outer space.


Fancy upgrading your barbecue? See our round-up of all the best barbecues


How much do I need to spend on a sun lounger or outdoor seating? 

Rattan garden furniture

There is a broad range of prices available for those looking to buy sun loungers or outdoor seating. While some products on the market can cost thousands of pounds, the good news it that you can also usually find a budget option.

  • Sun loungers can cost anywhere between £20 to £2,000. Budget loungers are relatively basic, but when you start spending £100 or more you should expect extra features and accessories, such as cushions. 
  • Deck chairs have a pretty standard design which means you'll find a great selection costing between £30 and £60. 
  • Recliners can cost anywhere between £40 and a few hundred pounds depending on the size, materials and additional accessories.   
  • Day beds start at around £200 and are very basic, while the high-end models can start at around £1,400 and come with canopies and reclining settings.
  • Benches sell for between £30 and £90, but if you're looking for a sturdier bench then you should expect to pay between £120 to £180 and even up to £300 for a premium option. 
  • Hammock prices range from £25 for a basic hammock without a stand and go up to around £200 with a frame included. 
  • Swing seats sell for anything from £100 to well over £1,000. 

If you want to keep warm while relaxing in your new outdoor lounger, then a patio heater could be a worthwhile investment. See our patio heater buying guide for more information


Cheap sun loungers and outdoor seating 

Cheap garden seating

The great thing about sun loungers and outdoor seating is that you can pick up something basic for a relatively low price. 

Outdoor seating made from plastic, steel, aluminium and softwoods, such as pine, help to keep the costs down. Of course, plastic is not as durable as pricier hardwood or rattan options - nor is it eco-friendly. So, if you’re looking for a long-term investment, you’ll need to spend a little more.  

At high street stores such as Argos you can pick up a very basic sun lounger for as little as £25 or an egg chair for under £300. Lots of supermarkets including Aldi and Asda also offer value-for-money seating.

Another option is buying secondhand on sites such as Ebay and Gumtree. Occasionally you may find people giving away items for free if you're able to collect.

Where to buy sun loungers and outdoor seating

There are a whole host of stores and websites that sell sun loungers and outdoor seating at a range of prices. Wherever you shop, make sure you pay attention to the returns policy and check for warranties.  

Popular online retailers that stock outdoor seating include:  

  • Aldi stocks a range of patio furniture - everything from seating pillows to recliners, stools and loungers. Aldi sells seat pads in a range of designs for less than £15.
  • Amazon sells almost all types of outdoor seating so if you struggle to find what you want elsewhere, then it might be worth checking them out.
  • Argos sells patio sets, sun loungers, hammocks and more. If it's an outdoor sofa set you are after, then Argos has options for as low as £150.
  • B&Q offers a selection of garden seating, including egg chairs, day beds and armchairs. Its simple garden chairs start at just £20.
  • Dunelm sells plenty of sofa sets, with prices starting at under £200.
  • Homebase has everything from benches and loungers to swing seats and picnic tables.  
  • Ikea supplies a full range of garden furniture, from a £15 folding metal and wooden chair, to a £1,225 modular corner sofa.
  • John Lewis houses lots of own-brand options, as well as seating from big names such as Kettler and Fiam.
  • Kettler is one of the most widely stocked garden furniture retailers with more than 400 stockists up and down the country. 
  • The Range has a variety of outdoor seating including garden chairs, lounge sets, benches and sun loungers. If you're looking for zero gravity sun beds, they start under £40.
  • Wilko sells a wide variety of seating, including a basic chair that costs less than £10 right up to a set of loungers for £900.

Outdoor seating cushions 

Outdoor cushions

Outdoor seating cushions can add some character and brighten up your outdoor space and they come in a range of colours and styles. They're also great for providing comfort and stability when relaxing outside.

It's important that cushions are the correct size and have ties to ensure they don't move around when you're sitting or lying down. 

You'll probably want cushions that are waterproof and resistant to fading if they're going to be positioned in the sun for sustained periods of time. Generally speaking, acrylic, polyester, olefin and textilene are all good materials for outdoor cushions.

There is a huge range in prices for outdoor seating cushions and the cost is heavily influenced by how many you need to buy. For your very basic needs, cushions can cost as little as £5 but if you require bespoke items then you could pay substantially more. 

Some of the most searched for retailers for outdoor cushions include Ikea, Amazon, John Lewis and Argos


Solar garden lights will let you enjoy your outdoor seating even after the sun goes down


How to build outdoor seating

Outside seating made from pallets

If you are into DIY or enjoy being creative, then you might want to consider making your own outdoor sofa. It might sound complicated but there are some clever designs that require minimum effort but will still give your garden a boost this summer. One idea shared widely on social media requires just three pallets, some outdoor paint and a drill with some decent screws.

  1. Make sure the three pallets are in good condition. Pallets that are cracking, splintering or wet should be avoided. 
  2. Sand down your pallets so they are smooth with no prickly edges. 
  3. Give them a lick of outdoor paint. This should help protect the wood from rain. 
  4. Once dry, stack two of your pallets on top of each other and secure them together with screws. This will form the part of the area you sit on.
  5. Afterwards, take the third pallet and place it vertically behind the two pallets drilled together (this gives you the back part of the seating). Use your drill to secure all three pallets together. 
  6. Aim to join the pallets by drilling the screws into the thicker parts of the wood. Once everything is fixed you can furnish the seating with cushions, or maybe a mat or throw. 

If you're renovating your garden and fancy splashing out, take a look at our hot tub buying guide