Clever Ways to Find Cheap Outdoor Furniture You'll Love

vintage chair painted green
Lisa Hallett Taylor

Maybe it's time for some new outdoor furniture, but your budget won't bend. Like other potential purchases, you can work more closely toward your goal if you have an open mind and do some creative searching. Stores that specialize in patio furniture year-round often carry high-end, deep-seating brands, but are less likely to hold incredible sales. Look beyond the obvious and traditional sources and you might be in for a pleasant surprise. In some cases, inexpensive translates into next-to-nothing or free. Enjoy the hunt—the challenge is what makes it fun and more meaningful when you find your patio treasure.

  • 01 of 07

    Cheap Patio Furniture: Thrift, Antique, and Architectural Salvage Stores

    tropitone vintage set
    Lisa Hallett Taylor

    You never know what to expect when you walk into a consignment storeantique shop, or a place that sells architectural salvage. Pricing is often at the discretion of the owner or employees. Sometimes they don't know what's valuable or collectible, following the belief that new is better than old. This is when you can swoop in and score a highly collectible midcentury Santorini or Woodard wrought-iron chair or dining set.

    Habitat for Humanity has opened numerous ReStores throughout the United States and Canada, where they sell reusable and surplus building materials, household fixtures, furnishings, and appliances to the public.

  • 02 of 07

    Yard Sales, Garage Sales, and Estate Sales

    vintage iron sofa
    Lisa Hallett Taylor

    Yard sales are often held on Saturday mornings. If the sale is advertised or signs are posted the night before, diehards often show up early, sometimes before the sellers have awakened or hauled their stuff outside. As with flea markets, collectibles that are good deals will be the first to go, so if you want that wicker porch rocker mentioned in the ad, you'd better arrive first thing.

    If you're more of a casual cruiser, the kind who slowly drives by a yard sale to survey the merchandise without parking your car, you can cover lots of ground on a Saturday morning. While estate sales are stricter on their prices, you can always negotiate. Be reasonable, though. If they wanted to give it away, they'd donate their stuff to a charity. If you're too cheap, you'll lose the deal.

  • 03 of 07

    Shop the Sales for Deep Discounts on Outdoor Furniture

    outdoor deep seating set
    Trinette Reed/Getty Images

    Check for sales—both online and at nearby retail stores—that carry outdoor furnishings as seasonal items: Target, Walmart, IKEA, Restoration Hardware, CB2, and the like are all good spots to check. Outdoor patio furniture is usually in stores and available online in March, and retailers start reductions on garden furnishings right after the Fourth of July, to make room for back-to-school supplies.

    Discounts on patio furniture—or any seasonal items, for that matter—usually start at 25 percent, then jump to 50 percent off. At this point in the price reduction process, most of the furniture is purchased. If you want to hold out for 75 percent off, you can wait two or three more weeks, although the selection will be limited or gone.

  • 04 of 07

    Looking for Budget Outdoor Furniture: Ebay, Craigslist, and Other Sites

    vintage wicker chair
    Lisa Hallett Taylor

    Buying items (even large ones, such as furniture) from other people, instead of stores, online has come a long way. Photos, thorough descriptions, and a dealer rating system have taken away most of the concerns for even the biggest skeptics. You can find virtually any type of outdoor furniture—new, old, basic, collectible—for various prices. Depending on what site you use, you can search for furniture in your area or arrange for an item to be shipped to you.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Buy off-Season

    patio string lights
    hazelog/Getty Images

    Buying off-off season is like purchasing a bikini in below-freezing temperatures. It's not unheard of to find heavily discounted piece of outdoor furniture during the holiday shopping season, sometimes tucked somewhere at the back of the store. 

    Another suggestion: After the winter holidays, check out the boxes of lights that are marked down. The white string lights—the ones that don't resemble icicles or candy canes—might light up your yard next summer, strung in a tree or across the deck. Better yet, look for energy-efficient LED lights and save even more money.

  • 06 of 07

    Finding Cheap Outdoor Furniture: Repairing and Re-Covering

    painting a bench
    hazelog/Getty Images

    Is a makeover possible? If it's not beyond repair and hired help is capable of repairing or refurbishing a certain piece of patio furniture, then so can you, if you have the time and willpower.

    With a screwdriver, tighten or replace screws. Strip, sand, and refinish wood or wrought iron pieces of outdoor furniture. Paint it or make new patio cushions and pillows. Replace a damaged tabletop with a piece of glass cut to fit, or make a mosaic design on top of plywood.

    Books, magazines, and design and DIY sites are excellent sources of inspiration.

  • 07 of 07

    Recycling and Repurposing Outdoor Furniture

    vintage tea crate table
    Lisa Hallett Taylor

    Recycle, reuse, repurpose: They each take time and creativity. You have to approach repurposing with a wide-open mind. This old wooden tea crate makes a charming outdoor table. It's a vintage addition to this eclectic grouping that also includes the 1950s wrought iron garden settee and a faux-Tuscan planter (rescued as a discard from the backyard of an unoccupied house) with a fresh succulent container design. 

    You have to use discretion here. A stained 1980s mauve velvet sofa with sagging cushions is not going to look good on your front porch or back patio, despite the fact that we’ve all seen old couches on porches before.