The Outdoor Sectionals Worth Investing in So Yours Doesn’t Fall Apart by September
Sunbrella fabric is one good indicator it will last.
Updated Feb 24, 2023 12:27 PM
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Many of us spent a large chunk of the past few years renovating and redecorating our homes, and outdoor spaces also got in on the fun. But if, in a tizzy, you went for something a little on the cheap side or you’re finally ready to go all out, a standout sectional should be your first stop. Similar to the way a sofa anchors a living or family room, an outdoor sectional will set the mood for all of your alfresco activities. But there’s one big difference when it comes to open-air loungers: durability.
“Your outdoor furniture should absolutely last you more than just a couple of seasons,” says Allison Messner, cofounder and CEO of Yardzen, a virtual landscape design company. She says that fabrics should be comfortable enough to lounge on for hours, but also tough enough to withstand the sun’s harsh rays, unforeseen rain showers, and a spill or two of wine.
We’ve handpicked the best outdoor sectionals that are both well designed and durable for lounging on all season long (and for years to come). This way you can get back to planning the menu for your first-of-the-season garden gathering—or just finally realizing that new backyard escape.
- Best customizable: Pottery Barn Torrey All-Weather Wicker 4-Piece Roll Arm Sectional
- Best value: Walker Edison Macae 4-Piece Outdoor Sectional
- Best all-weather wicker: Serena & Lily Pacifica Corner Sectional
- Best aluminum: Outer Aluminum Outdoor 4-Seat Sectional
- Best teak: Neighbor Outdoor Sectional
- Best small space: Target Opalhouse Latigo Patio Sectional
- Best classic: West Elm Playa Outdoor Reversible Sectional
- Best modern: CB2 Rossi 3-Piece Sectional Sofa
- Best wow factor: Article Murrel Sectional
- Best slipcovered look: Anthropologie Tassa Outdoor L-Shaped Sectional
- Best squishy: Vetsak Corner Sofa
Best Customizable: Pottery Barn Torrey All-Weather Wicker 4-Piece Roll Arm Sectional
Pottery Barn’s Torrey sectional checks all of our boxes: Not only is it stylish, comfortable, and durable, its cushions and all-weather wicker are customizable.
Featuring a rustproof aluminum frame that’s finished with a weather-resistant synthetic wicker (available in four colors), the four-piece design can be subtracted from or added to fit your space. The upholstered cushions also come in nearly 25 colors (there’s some contrast piping!) and three types of fabrics, including Premium Sunbrella and Premium Quick-Drying Sunbrella Rain, which are both Greenguard- and Oeko-Tex–certified to ensure personal and environmental safety standards. “We love to incorporate recycled, reclaimed, alternative, or responsibly harvested materials that meet high social and environmental standards,” a Pottery Barn representative tells Domino.
And a clever detail: The Torrey features adjustable levers on its feet to provide stability on even the bumpiest terrains.
Best Value: Walker Edison Macae 4-Piece Outdoor Sectional
If you’re looking to quickly outfit a patio, with no fretting over surfaces or additional seating, consider the Macae set. Landing on the product page with no context might lead you to believe you’ll just be getting a sofa. But if you read the fine print, you’ll realize this is a four-piece set complete with two sofas, a chair, and a coffee table. Available on Amazon with exceptionally quick delivery, this 4-star-rated quartet is one to watch regularly, as it can go on sale in spurts. Reviewers report that the light powder-coated aluminum and polysynthetic wood frame is easy to assemble; plus the whole shebang—which is rust-, water-, and UV resistant—is pretty sturdy. Shoppers also note that the cushions are well filled and the fabric feels durable, but if you’re not diligent about stashing them in inclement weather, you may want to replace them with a darker option. Others remark about how helpful the modular design is. “I like that this is configurable,” one reviewer says. “I can always rearrange into an L shape as well. The Amazon delivery person brought it straight up the elevator to my place.”
Best All-Weather Wicker: Serena & Lily Pacifica Corner Sectional
Yes, it’s an investment, but this wicker sectional is worth it if you’ve recently settled into your forever home or are looking for a serious outdoor living upgrade. The woven resin provides an exceptionally hard-wearing, long-lasting update to the classic wicker look. The cushions feature an all-weather foam and polyester fill, and the removable covers come in the brand’s performance fabrics, which resist mildew, repel water, and hold up against all sorts of sun and storms without fading. Plus the cushions attach to the frame with Velcro to prevent slippage. Trust us: Once you sit down, you’re not going to want to get up.
Best Aluminum: Outer Aluminum Outdoor 4-Seat Sectional
Weatherproof aluminum combines with memory foam cushions in Outer’s four-seat sectional. The piece includes two armless chairs, one corner chair, and one sectional chair, which all combine to suite the space you have and the company you are keeping. The lightweight frame, covered by a 10-year limited warranty, requires no assembly (surprising, huh?). All you have to do is take it out of the box, toss the cushions on, and you’re ready to go.
On those cushions, which carry a five-year limited warranty, you’ll find machine washable, UV-resistant fabric that covers memory foam typically seen in mattresses. We prefer the lighter colorways, but that’s up to you. The brand’s patented weather-resistant cover, called OuterShell, is integrated so you can seamlessly pull it over the backrest and bottom cushion when you’re finished lounging. It attaches with two Velcro tabs and has a handle for easy toting and lets you skip fighting with a cover that must be kept elsewhere. If you’re stumped on where to start, Outer offers free design consultations and free fabric swatches; you can also chat with a product specialist or visit a showroom.
Best Teak: Neighbor Outdoor Sectional
Configurable when it comes to size, orientation, and arm style, Neighbor’s sectional has a lot going for it, and then some. There are a number of considered design choices, all of which start with an FSC-certified teak frame that reads a little Scandinavia, a little California. Seven different Sunbrella performance fabric choices, including a chic rust and soothing moss, are durable and stain resistant, and reviewers note that the cushions, which can be secured to the frame by ties, are thick and comfortable. The back-cushion support is constructed from polyester rope, and marine-grade, stainless steel hardware is corrosion resistant.
Free shipping and a 45-day trial are nice perks, too, and delivery is estimated within one to two weeks. And if you’d like to slip in a surface for drinks or as a plant perch, the brand just launched an in-line table that works modularly with the lounge system.
Best Small Space: Target Opalhouse Latigo Patio Sectional
Target’s all-weather, rust-resistant, steel-wicker Latigo is functional and on trend—all at a very friendly price point. The L-shape fits neatly into the smallest of spaces, like narrow decks and balconies, while the chaise longue invites reclining with a good book or glass of rosé. The neutral cushions and frame allow you to make it your own with bright pillows or an eclectic throw.
Best Classic: West Elm Playa Outdoor Reversible Sectional
Another great option for smaller areas, this West Elm find is exactly what Messner means when she says to look for transitional styles in hardy materials. The solid eucalyptus and mahogany frame is sustainably sourced, rich in weather-resistant oils, hand-brushed, FSC certified, and kiln dried to prevent warping. The ottoman can easily be moved to either side to suit your needs, and the water-resistant fabric means you don’t have to sweat it when spills inevitably happen.
Best Modern Design: CB2 Rossi 3-Piece Sofa With Metal Frame
If sleek and sophisticated is what you’re after, this three-piece sectional inspired by French industrial style is for you. The matte black frame is finished with rope detailing for a stylish flourish, and the thin hairpin legs offer a certain je ne sais quoi. Performance, however, is not sacrificed: The steel is powder coated, and all-weather polyester upholstery means you don’t have to worry when a few scattered showers hit. Plus the covers can be removed for easy cleaning.
You can also purchase extra armless chairs to extend the Rossi into a Y- or U-shaped lounge for extra seating—which you’ll need when word gets out that you have the most stylish yard on the block.
Best Wow Factor: Article Murrel Sectional
Article’s curvy take on wicker is dramatic, to say the least. The Murrel sectional’s cloudlike silhouette pairs up with equally loungy cushions and a matching ottoman; the entire set leans more modern than coastal grandmother. One reviewer sums it up as “big, beautiful, and comfy.” And since it’s currently in stock, it’ll likely ship quick, with delivery estimates being anywhere between one and three weeks. For furniture of this size, we’d say that’s pretty reasonable. You might want to take extra care with this one in order to maintain its eye-catching appeal. Store in a garage if you can throughout the rainy or cold season, and avoid pressure washing—it prefers a soft brushing with a gentle detergent.
Best Slipcovered Look: Anthropologie Tassa Outdoor L-Shaped Sectional
From looks alone, this pillowy Anthropologie sectional might fool you into thinking it’s for indoor living rooms only. But yes, it is actually designed as outdoor seating. The lived-in, slipcover-esque look is made with Sunbrella canvas, and the back and seat cushions are made from a high-resiliency foam core that refuses to retain water (great for a poolside setup). The frame, too, is made with marine-grade, UV-resistant laminated hardwood to resist mold and mildew, and plastic-capped legs protect stone or concrete pavers or a wood composite deck from deep scratches (they’re totally removable, too, if you prefer a low profile). Bonus: If you opt for the natural colorway, it’ll ship out as soon as two weeks.
Best Squishy: Vetsak Corner Sofa
Get ready to sink into the deep, chunky cushions of Vetsak’s Corner Sofa. This is a top pick if you have space (and money, phew) to spare, since one piece alone is 41 inches long and 41 inches wide. There’s the option to build upon the modular sectional, too, if you’re looking for even more room to sprawl. Already a favorite indoor furnishing among buyers for this reason, the new weather-resistant Sunbrella performance upholstery means you can take reading your favorite novel and naps to the next level—outside. Choose from several colors in a chunky knit, laid-back linen, or classic canvas, and consider springing for one sooner rather than later, since lead times are long. (Thankfully, delivery to the U.S. is free.) The covers are interchangeable, so you can switch up the vibe each season. Plus they’re machine washable, which means dirt, crumbs, and a sloshy patio cocktail don’t stand a chance. If you want a peek at how one looks in situ, check out the backyard at Bethany Brill’s Costa Mesa, California, home.
How We Chose These Products
After chatting with Messner, we tapped Domino’s style editors for favorite outdoor sectional brands and surveyed home tours for covetable pieces. Then we took into consideration a variety of criteria, including smart design, durable materials, and a range of prices. The list we landed on includes all kinds of styles, including classic and contemporary looks. We skipped ultra-budget options, as outdoor furniture needs to be well built and made from long-lasting materials to withstand swings in weather; this often translates to a higher price point.
Our Shopping Checklist
Sectionals come in various configurations. The classic L-shape features a chaise on either the left or right side to put your feet up on and is “easy to place in just about any outdoor layout,” says Messner. The Y-shape, which has two sides of equal length configured at a 90-degree angle, is ideal if you often host large parties. Similarly, a U-shape design is great for big groups or to wrap around a firepit or outdoor coffee table. “It’s a statement piece that pulls a whole yard together,” says Messner. But, she warns, this shape typically works best for the largest of yards, as it can take up a lot of space.
Finally, modular versions are made up of individual seating sections that are entirely movable, allowing for multiple layouts (including any of the shapes listed above). “These are perfect for homeowners who love to rearrange and decorate or renters who may not know the layout of their future outdoor spaces,” explains Messner.
There are a few keywords that you should look for when shopping for outdoor furniture: all-weather, powder coated, water repellent, and UV resistant. These help ensure that the items you’re investing in will stand the test of time—and Mother Nature.
Metal is a popular frame material, but it comes with a caveat. While sturdy and attractive, aluminum and steel can rust over time, so it’s important that they’re powder coated, Gaby Zone, Terrain’s merchandise director of home, previously told Domino.
For wood frames, Zone suggests teak, as it’s “less likely to become brittle thanks to its high natural-oil content.” Eucalyptus and mahogany are also hardy choices, as they’re resistant to rot and decay. Always check that any wood you select is approved by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). “This certifies that products come from responsibly managed forests that ensure environmental, social, and economic benefits,” says Messner.
Wicker, which is actually a weaving technique and not a specific material, is lightweight and therefore easy to move around. Resin, a synthetic material, is popular for outdoor wicker furniture, but make sure to pick an option crafted from a highly durable material, such as high-density polyethylene, for longevity. Powder-coated metals and synthetic rattans also work well, whereas wicker made from natural materials, such as rattan vine, should mainly be used indoors due to its porousness (which means it can easily let in and hold water) and its propensity to fade in the sun.
For fabrics, always look for weather-resistant picks, too. Messner favors Sunbrella designs, as they “withstand various weather conditions, resist fading, clean beautifully, and come in a range of colors and patterns.”
According to Messner, the classic L-shape design is a winning choice. “The 90-degree bend invites conversation and encourages socialization, which everyone is craving now,” she says. Her firm typically recommends neutral hues and transitional styles; this way “your sectional looks great in your ever-evolving home and yard,” she adds. But if you’re into bright colors and expressive prints, don’t be afraid to take that look outside! Your outdoor space should be an extension of your indoor style.
Pro Tips for Styling Sectional Furniture
- Keep in mind how you’ll use your sectional and your space to get the best return on your investment. If you have a large yard and entertain a lot, go for a U-shape model. If you have a small deck or balcony, an L-shape design is likely your best bet.
- “Pillows are the quickest and easiest way to style your sectional,” says Messner, and a good outdoor rug will anchor the space. And don’t forget outdoor lights! Just as candles and dim lighting can set the mood indoors, the same is true for the right lighting outdoors. “It’s transformative,” says Messner. “In just a few hours, you can hang some bistro lighting for magical after-sundown gatherings.”
- An outdoor sofa is just one part—albeit a big one—of creating an entertaining space. Don’t forget to add an ottoman or coffee table for holding drinks and canapés.
Q: What is the difference between a sectional and patio set?
While modular styles offer flexibility, a sectional is meant to be used as one piece of furniture. A patio set, on the other hand, typically consists of an outdoor sofa or sectional; chairs; and a coffee table, side table, or both for a complete and matching set.
Q: How can I prolong the life of my patio furniture?
It’s always a good idea to invest in a high-quality cover to protect your outdoor furniture when inclement weather strikes or when it’s not in use for a stretch of time. Wood designs can also benefit from seasonal treatment with a penetrating oil, which will help block moisture and remove unwanted stains. Keep your patio furniture clean and dry, and store it in a garage or basement, if possible, during the colder months. Always read and follow the care instructions for any piece of furniture you purchase.