10 Clever Ways to Find Cheap Outdoor Furniture You'll Love

vintage chair painted green
A vintage patio chair painted green. Lisa Hallett Taylor
  • 01 of 10

    Sources for Cheap Outdoor Patio Furniture

    ames aires furniture
    Vintage Ames Aire outdoor furniture. Flickr member Ethan

    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...MORE next-to-nothing or free. Enjoy the hunt—the challenge is what makes it fun and more meaningful when you find your "treasure."

     

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  • 02 of 10

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

    tropitone vintage set
    Vintage Tropitone patio furniture. Lisa Hallett Taylor

    The thrill of it all—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, maintaining 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 ReSto...MOREres throughout the United States and Canada, where they sell reusable and surplus building materials, household fixtures, furnishings and appliances to the public. Since the financial crisis, consignment stores have increased their business. 

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  • 03 of 10

    Yard Sales, Garage Sales and Estate Sales

    vintage iron sofa
    A vintage wrought iron garden 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...MORE 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.

     

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  • 04 of 10

    Shop the Sales for Deep Discounts Off Outdoor Furniture

    outdoor deep seating set
    A deep seating patio set on a backyard patio. Trinette Reed/Getty Images

    Check for sales—both online and at nearby retail stores—that carry outdoor furnishings as a seasonal item: Target, Walmart, Kmart, Sears, Pier 1 Imports, IKEA, Restoration Hardware, CB2 and Cost Plus are possibilities. 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...MORE 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.

     

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  • 05 of 10

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

    vintage wicker chair
    A vintage wicker chair found on CraigsList. Lisa Hallett Taylor

    Ebay rattled the livelihoods of antique shops and was one of the online shopping pioneers. 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. To avoid shipping fees, do an "advanced search" and look for auctions in your region. 

    Craigslist is more what Ebay was like in its early days before everyone caught on....MORE Try a local search under terms like "outdoor furniture", "patio furniture" or "wrought iron patio" if you're seeking something specific. Although it's expensive to ship, check Etsy. Several other online retailers/resellers have appeared on the scene in recent years. 

    Garden furniture, plants, pottery, and grills can be found on other sites and apps. Search Facebook for local-to-you groups that sell or trade items that are used, vintage, upcycled, etc. 

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  • 06 of 10

    Buy Off-Season, Like Off, Off-Season

    patio string lights
    Strings of lights across a patio at night. hazelog/Getty Images

    No, it's not a typo. 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...MORE a tree or across the deck. Better yet, look for energy-efficient LED lights and save even more money.

     

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  • 07 of 10

    Do the DIY Thing: Make Your Own Outdoor Furniture

    vintage diy books
    A selection of vintage Lane DIY books. Lisa Hallett Taylor

    During the post-World War II housing boom, families enthusiastically embraced the backyard patio-with-barbecue lifestyle. They had skills, and weren't afraid to tackle lumber, a hammer, wrench, and other tools in the garage. How-to books from Lane Publishing/Sunset Books and Better Homes & Gardens featured all kinds of outdoor projects, including how to make outdoor furniture.

    Both publishers and others have produced books on this subject for decades. Some do-it-yourselfers continued the...MORE tradition passed down from their parents and grandparents, others are part of the DIY renaissance known as the Maker Movement. If you want to build something contemporary, buy a recently published book on the subject. If you're interested in matching the patio furniture style to the era or architectural design of your house, look for an older book on making furniture. Sources include online bookstores and libraries.

     

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  • 08 of 10

    Finding Cheap Outdoor Furniture: Repairing and Re-Covering

    painting a bench
    Painting an outdoor 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...MORE and DIY sites are excellent sources of inspiration

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  • 09 of 10

    Recycling and Repurposing Outdoor Furniture

    vintage tea crate table
    A vintage tea crate becomes an outdoor 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 a 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...MORE 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.

     

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  • 10 of 10

    Finding Cheap Outdoor Furniture: Family or Friends Downsizing?

    yard with pool
    Offer to store (and use) a friend's outdoor furniture. Lisa Hallett Taylor

    Do you have a friend moving into a smaller house with a smaller yard? What are your friend's plans for the five-piece patio set you've always admired? Ask, politely. Suggest that if he is thinking of selling it, to please give you first dibs on the set.

    Many people downsize, especially as they get older and children leave the nest. Relatives or friends may be moving into a smaller place and don't want the expense of renting a storage unit to store a lifetime's accumulation....MORE Volunteer to store stuff for them, including outdoor furnishings. If you do end up "babysitting" the patio furniture, make sure you take extra-special care of it, remembering to keep the furniture covered or stored during the off-season and away from extremes in temperature.