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Outdoor Benches Buyer's Guide

Of Picnics, Parks and Patios

An outdoor bench on a warm summer day is an invitation to relax. A bench is a resting place with opportunity - a waypoint between one activity and the next. There are some benches that welcome restful repose, but just as common are benches that are a place to have a quick bite, a laugh, or a kiss from Mother Nature on the way from hither to yon.

Function, Form - or Both

The truth is that some outdoor benches are little more than a place to sit rather than stand, and there's nothing wrong with that. Even the fanciest outdoor bench is still "just a bench." But, benches can still be ugly or unstable and buying these should be avoided.

Wobbly benches are woefully common and the only way to avoid one is to know and trust the manufacturer. Reading reviews can help narrow the field in this area. Thankfully, truly ugly benches are a little rarer, likely because coming up with an idea for a bench is kind of like boiling an egg - it's hard to mess up.

Of course, not everyone can be a bench maker and many outdoor benches are much more than what meets the eye. There are shoe benches, folding benches and benches that serve as functional art pieces both indoors and outdoors.

Style/Design

No one says an outdoor bench can't be used indoors; as a coffee table, end-piece for a bed or a place to set knickknacks when the curio cabinet gets too full. There are some benches - like picnic benches – that clearly belong outside, but many other designs are much more versatile.

Outdoor benches are made with many materials including wood, metal and plastic. The best type to buy is going to depend on where it will sit, who's using it and how often it will be used. After all, when a bench is priced as functional art watching a child lovingly scratch his name into it may spoil the joys of the great outdoors.

This is less of a concern when selecting from the POLYWOOD line of outdoor benches, which are built using an HDPE composite that comes in multiple shades and does not need to be painted, stained or sealed in any way to retain their vibrant color or waterproof properties. It's also very durable and far more kid-friendly than functional art.

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