DIY Outdoor Furniture Projects : Enhance Your Outdoor Living Space
Everyone wants a beautiful outdoor garden space, but the cost of labour and rising prices all around make hiring someone for landscaping and garden projects more of a challenge. As a result, DIY outdoor furniture projects are becoming more and more popular, as a way to beautify outdoor space, save money, and have fun in the process.
Making your own outdoor furniture allows you to unleash creativity, learn new skills, save money, and bring something truly beautiful and unique to your garden. Home-made tables, chairs, benches, hammocks, and planters are all options. Many of these projects are easier than you may think and there are DIY furniture plans for every skill level and budget.
We’ll introduce you to several of these projects, help you plan materials and gather tools, and teach you how to help protect your hand-hewn furniture from the elements and damage.
How Do I Plan My Project?
Planning for a DIY furniture project involves getting the right supplies for your task, understanding how large your project will be, getting the right dimensions and quantity of materials, and having the correct tools on hand.
What materials will you need, and which materials are you comfortable working with? Cinder blocks, bricks, and paving stones are good choices for those with less experience, whereas projects requiring one to carefully saw through wood are more ideal for those with at least some basic carpentry skills.
Decide what it is you’ll be looking to build. Both wood and cinder blocks can work as tables, benches, or chairs. We’ll give you some ideas for both below! For wood-based tables, choose a wood variety and thickness that is going to be sturdy, or choose materials such as wooden pallets that already have some durability and strength.
If you’re working with brick and stone, make sure the shape and texture of the material lend themselves to the project. No one wants to sit on lumpy, jagged pavers, and the colour should blend in well with the rest of your garden. Assembling pavers and bricks into the general shape you’re desiring can give you a visual and practical sense of what the finished piece will look like before mortar is added.
Make sure your outdoor space is large enough to accommodate the project, while still leaving room for yourself, your family, and guests to move around the garden. Make sure the ground you’re using is level enough to safely support the project, and consider factors like shade when deciding where to build.
Working with electric power tools may be necessary, so make sure that you have the correct tools for the job, know how to use these tools safely, and have someone with you in case of an accident, or unexpected complication as you’re building. Common necessary DIY instruments include
- Hammer and nails
- Metal hinges
- Electric screwdriver and screws
- Mortar or liquid nails
- Hand saws
- Electric circular saws
- Measuring instruments
- Chalk for drawing out patterns and planning cuts
When measuring and cutting wood or stone use marking products that can easily be erased or rubbed out, such as chalk. Go over your work twice to ensure accuracy. Measure twice, cut once as they say. Be sure to carefully line up your woodworking, and use care when handling saws or blades.
Wear protective eyewear whenever working with saws, as sawdust and stone dust can damage eyes. Ear protections should be used around electric saws, and have someone with you while you’re cutting in case an accident occurs.
So which project is right for you, and what kind of DIY outdoor furniture should you make for your garden?
DIY Outdoor Furniture Ideas
So which DIY project is going to be best for you? We’ll walk you through each one, and help you decide.
Pallet furniture is an especially forgiving and simple choice for those who would like to work with wood, yet whose carpentry skills are more basic. Pallets can be purchased from home improvement stores or may be available for free from a local warehouse.
For a pallet chair, you’ll need three pallets, and for a sofa, you’ll need six. Position two pallets slat-side up on top of each other, and attach them with galvanised jointing plates and screws. Connect the pallets through the thicker parts of the wood for the greatest durability.
Next, attach the third pallet with the slats facing inwards at a 90-degree angle to the first two pallets to form the back of the chair. Double the number of pallets and connect two of these chairs for a proper pallet sofa. Finish off with pillows for extra comfort and support.
Pallets can be stacked and connected to form coffee tables, and connected lengths of pallet wood can be attached to metal or wooden legs to form an outdoor dining table. It’s important to sand the wood before use to reduce splinters, and to remove staples from the wood as well.
Cinder Block Furniture can be assembled easily with mortar or with liquid nails. Simply arrange, stack, adhere, and finish off cinder block chairs and sofas with cushions or pillows.
You can also creatively arrange hollow cinder blows to act as armrests and back supports for the finished wooden beams of a bench. Simply arrange the hollow of the blocks facing one another at a distance slightly less than the width of your beams, and thread your wooden beams through. Pair cinder blocks with wooden boards for outdoor shelving for plants and decor, or as a coffee table.
Cinder block furniture also holds up very well to the elements, and the relative inexpensiveness of the material means that you can outfit your entire garden quickly, for less money.
A DIY Adirondack chair can be an involved and exciting project for experienced carpenters. You’ll have to cut all wood pieces to exact dimensions, but final assembly is not terribly difficult. Kits also exist to help you nail together your own Adirondack chairs, with the wood pieces already cut.
Benches are fairly easy to put together and can be made of treated wood and even driftwood. Select the quality and durability of wood that can withstand human weight, and make sure to space supports evenly throughout the seat if your bench project is meant to seat more than two people. Nails and screws will be useful for both treated wood and driftwood, whereas hinges and screws will work well on treated, cut wood.
Lounge garden chairs are, at their simplest, long chairs on which one can recline with head support. The simplest form of DIY lounge chair will involve a bench-like base that rests on the ground, and a headrest that can be kept upright and supported by a fixed back support rail. You are essentially looking at a very simple, elongated Adirondack chair for this project, though the exact aesthetic can be anything that you choose.
A Hammock is a fairly simple yet extremely rewarding project that can be hooked from trees and finished in a day. Start with a 1.5 by 2.8 metre stretch of canvas, fold the end 5 cm over, and sew into a hem. Cut holes for 9 grommets on either side, attack the grommets, and have 18 2.3 metre pieces of rope ready. Loop each piece through a grommet, and tie it to a metal hook to secure each looped rope. Do this to both sides, and hang it up from nearby trees with the help of hooks.
Planters and Garden Benches are some of the simplest DIY projects for your garden. Your DIY planters can be box-like, and assembled from plywood, or can be a more permanent garden feature if made from blocks or bricks.
Garden benches are simple to assemble. Simply place a board of treated, smooth wood over cinder block supports, and use strong industrial adhesive to secure it. You can also simply thread the same wood through the hollows of cinder blocks for a more unique and modern look.
Garden chairs can even be made of wide, squat logs, and smooth driftwood can become a longer bench. This will add a beautiful, natural look to your garden, and require minimal carpentry or work.
One of the best ways to make your DIY garden furniture pop is to paint, stain, or varnish. All of these options will protect from the elements, especially wood, which is prone to weather and decay over the years.
Choose a paint colour that compliments your garden with a more subdued look, or select surprising and contrasting colours for a more eclectic, playful vibe. If you want your wooden DIY outdoor furniture to have a more natural look, a stain may be a better choice. Stains can still protect the wood, and make it even more beautiful, without making it look artificial.
Clear varnish is the most natural-looking way to protect the wood from the elements, and spray paint can colourize cinder blocks as well as brick. Make sure to wear eye, nose, and mouth protection when using spray paint, and paint in a well-ventilated area.
You’ll also want to add pillows and cushions to the furniture to make it more comfortable. Choose pillows and cushions that are the appropriate length, height, and softness, and whenever possible, choose weather-resistant options. Be sure to bring all cushions and pillows inside during bad weather, and store them indoors for the winter.
How can you maintain outdoor furniture? Be sure to cover it when the Summer is over, to protect it from winter rains and snow. Bring outdoor furniture into a garage for the winter if possible, or use waterproof tarping as a cover. Touch up the paint every Spring to keep your garden furniture looking fresh and beautiful.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best materials for outdoor furniture?
The best materials to use on outdoor furniture are lumber, cinder blocks, driftwood, and logs. All of these materials can be used on their own, or even together to create something unique, fairly inexpensive, and beautiful.
How do I choose the right tools for my DIY project?
For most DIY outdoor furniture projects, a small electric circular saw will do just fine, but cutting into driftwood or logs will require a larger hand or chain saw.
Irregularly shaped, natural wood is best attached with nails and screws, whereas angular, treated wood does best with screws. Attach pallets one to another with hinges and screws through the chunkiest part of the wooden pallets.
Make sure that the screws and nails you are using are not so large that they’ll split or damage the wood, and consider using a strong adhesive or mortar for cinder blocks.
How do I protect my outdoor furniture from the elements?
Be sure to layer all wooden outdoor furniture with clear varnish, stain, or paint, depending on your preferences. Cover or store all furniture for the Winter, and before a major storm. Bring cushions and pillows inside for the Winter, and be sure to touch up all paint or varnish every Spring to keep your outdoor furniture lasting even longer.
What are some tips for making outdoor furniture more comfortable?
The best ways to make outdoor furniture comfortable are to choose smooth, comfortable materials that will not splinter, or feel awkward under the body. This is especially important when working with stone, concrete, pavers, or brick.
Pillows and cushions can also do wonders for outdoor furniture and can help make any furniture comfortable for hours of relaxation.
How can I personalise my outdoor furniture to match my style?
Choose a style of furniture that matches the aesthetic of your garden. For a more rustic look, choose driftwood or natural wood. Modern outdoor furniture often features swooping designs and natural colours, but you can make outdoor furniture more vivid with just a touch of paint.
The aforementioned pillows can also be a great and simple way to personalize outdoor furniture, while making sure that you position furniture in a configuration that is comfortable and convenient for you is also important.
What are some popular outdoor furniture trends in the UK?
The most popular outdoor furniture trends these days in the UK include natural wooden furniture, fire pits with complimentary benches and chairs, firepit tables, and outdoor sheds and summer houses.
Taking on a DIY outdoor furniture project is a fantastic way to save money this Spring, while beautifying your garden. You’ll learn new skills, and be able to create something that is truly your own, and unique.
Popular building materials include wooden pallets, treated wood, paving stones, and cinder blocks, with wooden pallet furniture being some of the easiest to assemble. Choosing soft and smooth materials as well as adding pillows and cushions can help make outdoor furniture more comfortable, too.
Why not take on a simple (or more advanced) outdoor furniture project of your own this Spring? You’ll be able to make something unique, lovely, and perfect for your outdoor space sometimes in as little as one afternoon! It’s a great way to save money and add unique touches to your garden.