Types of Outdoor Sectional Furniture

Outdoor Sectional Furniture

While every type of outdoor sectional furniture serves a similar purpose, there are so many different kinds of outdoor sectionals that it can make your head spin. Here at Madbury Road, we know a thing or two about modular outdoor furniture, and our years of expertise in helping customers pick out the perfect sectionals for their homes have made us uniquely equipped to provide advice as you sort through the different options in the outdoor sectional market. In this guide, we’ll cover each type of outdoor sectional furniture in detail, and we’ll help you pick a patio sectional furniture that will look perfect on your patio.

1. Modern Outdoor Sectionals

If you have an eye for style and you’re always jumping on the latest trend, a modern outdoor sectional might be just the right thing for your patio. There are quite a few different types of modern outdoor sectionals, and you’ll want to know more about how the clean lines and minimalist features of these types of sectionals will fit in with your existing decor before you proceed.

What Are Modern Outdoor Sectionals?

Modern outdoor sectionals are sectionals that have been designed in modern decor style. This type of decor evolved out of other futuristic decor styles, such as art deco, and it first appeared in full force in the 1940s.

This type of decor style is typified by clean, simple lines. Modern decor style calls for a lot of open space, and modern furniture doesn’t have a lot of ornamentation. This decor style was originally inspired by modernism, which is a philosophical school that can be defined by the maxim “form follows function.” 

In modern decor style, every form must have a function, and the function of furniture is exalted instead of its abstract aesthetic attributes. For instance, modern chairs, sofas, and sectionals are usually quite minimalist, but minimizing wasted space isn’t the express goal of modern decor. Rather, this type of decor maximizes the usability of furniture while simultaneously making it beautiful.

Modern decor style can be applied to any type of patio furniture, and outdoor sectionals are no exception. If an outdoor sectional is modern, it won’t have a lot of excessive lines or colors. Instead, it will feature simple tones, and it will feature as few ornaments and extra pieces as possible.

While modern decor and contemporary decor are different, these two decor styles are often lumped under the same umbrella. While contemporary outdoor sectional furniture shares modern decor’s flair for the minimal, this decor style allows a little bit more creative leeway. For instance, contemporary outdoor sectionals may feature more flowing lines and bright colors than their modern equivalents.

Where Do Modern Outdoor Sectionals Look Best?

A modern sectional sofa would look best on your patio if your home or outdoor space already features modern decor. In general, these types of sectionals look best in houses that were built after 1950, and if you have a lot of frilly features and bright colors in your home, a modern outdoor sectional sofa might look a little bit out of place.

Modern outdoor sectionals blend well with minimalist backgrounds. For instance, these types of furniture are perfect for offering commanding views over vast, manicured lawns, and they also look great if your home is on a waterfront.

What Styles of Modern Outdoor Sectionals Are There?

Here are a few examples of the different styles of modern outdoor sectional furniture that you can find for your home:


If you want to be a purist as you decorate your patio in modern style, then you’ll need to emulate the decor patterns of the original modernist interior decorators. While later iterations of modern decor feature many more curves and colors, original modernist decor features bland colors like gray, beige, white, and black.

The lines in original modern furniture are also much more angular than future re-imaginings of this decor style. Truly modern furniture has lots of right angles and clean lines.

Mid-Century Modern

In the 1950s and 1960s, the development of new synthetic substances and the material advances of the postwar period led to the development of a new form of modern architecture and interior decor. Mid-century modern outdoor sectional furniture may feature more flowing lines and bright colors than original modern furniture; the architect Eichler became the standard-bearer of this new architectural movement, and you can take a look at some of his designs to get an idea of which types of outdoor furniture fit into mid-century modern decor.

While mid-century modern decor features more freedom of expression than traditional modern decor, it still follows the dictates of “form follows function.” Anything unnecessary is left out of this type of decor, and while they might be more colorful, mid-century modern outdoor sectionals are still relatively simple and minimalistic.


Contemporary decor is an offshoot of modern decor that emerged in the waning decades of the 20th century. While pre-1950s modern decor is stern or even spartan, contemporary decor errs toward the playful. If you’ve ever thumbed through an Ikea catalog, you have a good idea of what contemporary decor looks like.

Since contemporary decor focuses heavily on the contrast between different types of materials, choosing a dark-colored sectional sofa for your patio and combining it with transparent glass tables might satisfy your vision for an ideal contemporary outdoor sectional setup. This type of decor also admits more color than its modern predecessors, which means that it might go well with a more vibrant backdrop.

Just keep in mind that contemporary decor is still relatively minimalist. Even though it allows more color and creativity, it’s anything but busy or messy. Choose your outdoor throw pillows with caution.

2. Outdoor Wicker Sectionals

If you want outdoor furniture that’s rustic and rugged at the same time, you might want to consider the benefits of all weather wicker patio furniture. Contrary to popular belief, the term “wicker” actually refers to a type of weave instead of a particular material, and this type of woven furniture can be made from a variety of different substances. Here’s everything you need to know about picking out the perfect outdoor wicker sectional for your patio.

What Are Outdoor Wicker Sectionals?

All weather wicker sectionals a distinctive design that differentiates it from other types of outdoor furniture. While outdoor furniture made from wood, metal, or glass usually has a flat, unvaried texture, the texture of wicker outdoor furniture is highly involved and detailed.

The type of furniture weave known as “wicker” is made by weaving strands of various substances together. After the woven structure is complete, it becomes a sturdy material that can withstand the significant weight. Depending on the type of material that wicker is made from, this furniture material may be stronger or weaker. 

Wicker made from natural substances is notoriously susceptible to the elements. However, it’s possible to coat this type of furniture with a weatherproof sealant that greatly improves its durability. Depending on the type of wicker you purchase, it may be possible to leave this type of furniture outside throughout the entire year without experiencing any loss of durability.

Since this material has been found in the tombs of ancient Egyptian pharaohs, scholars conclude that wicker is one of the oldest types of furniture weaves in existence. In addition to wicker outdoor sectionals, there are a variety of other types of products made from wicker. For instance, artisans use this weave to make baskets, boxes and tables.

Natural wicker is the same color as its base material, but manufacturers can make synthetic wicker in a wide variety of different colors. While the terms “rattan” and “wicker” are often used interchangeably, these terms refer to different things.

Where Do Outdoor Wicker Sectionals Look Best?

Outdoor wicker sectionals look great in practically any application. Due to the high versatility of this weave, interior designers can make wicker sectionals blend into farmhouse-style patios or ultra-modern patios just as easily. However, some types of wicker look better in certain settings than others.

If your home has been decorated in modern or contemporary style, for instance, natural wicker might look out of place. Instead, you might want to try a wicker sectional that features darker synthetic materials. If you’re trying to recreate the appearance of a traditional European farmhouse, however, you’ll want to use colored wicker.

Also, keep in mind that wicker looks very different depending on the accessories that you pair with it. Since this material is hard and relatively uncomfortable, it’s common to pair wicker outdoor sectionals with cushions. No matter what material you’ve chosen for your wicker furniture, you can alter the appearance of your sectional substantially if you switch out the cushions that you put on your wicker furniture.

You can even keep multiple types of cushions on hand and switch them out with the changing of the seasons. One of the best things about wicker is its versatility; depending on the accessories you use with your wicker sectional outdoor furniture, your sectional can look right at home at a fancy pool party or a laid-back summer barbecue.

What Styles of Outdoor Wicker Sectionals Are There?

Artisans make wicker furniture from a wide variety of different materials. Here are some examples of the most popular wicker materials:

Synthetic (PE Rattan)

During the 20th century, a number of industrial corporations, such as the DuPont Corporation, developed a variety of different synthetic materials that rapidly and irreversibly changed the global manufacturing industry. In particular, the types of plastics and resins that DuPont created became highly popular materials for furniture production. 

In the early days of the 20th century, the Lloyd Loom process made it possible to construct wicker furniture from high-tensile wire wrapped in protective paper. While this type of furniture is much heavier than natural wicker, it is highly durable and has a unique aesthetic.

Most types of synthetic wicker furniture ditch wooden frames for aluminum frames. With this combination of durable alloys and weather-resistant weaves, synthetic wicker can withstand climatic conditions that natural wicker cannot.

Collectively, the various types of synthetic wicker are called “all-weather wicker” due to their ability to withstand rain, snow, and other types of weather that destroy natural wicker. All-weather wicker outdoor furniture has replaced the more traditional materials as being the leading material used with outdoor furniture.

Manufacturers can produce synthetic wicker in a wide array of different colors. Therefore, it’s possible to find a synthetic wicker outdoor sectional that matches your decor no matter which colors are dominant in your palette.


Rattan is a species of palm that Westerners first discovered during the colonial period. This natural fiber is stronger than willow, and it consists of a soft inner core and a harder outer layer.

During the 19th century, Europeans rapidly began preferring rattan for making wicker baskets, furniture, and other goods. To this day, many American and European companies use rattan to make their wicker furniture. While rattan wicker has a slightly different appearance and texture than willow wicker, many manufacturers prefer this material due to its increased tensile strength. 

Like willow wicker, however, rattan wicker is damaged when exposed to wet conditions. Manufacturers can treat this material with the same weatherproofing substances that they use with willow wicker, but it’s still best to keep rattan wicker out of the rain as much as possible.


The word “wicker” comes from the Middle English wiker, which is itself a Scandinavian word for “willow.” The branches of willow trees are some of the oldest-known materials for wicker; even the Ancient Egyptians used Egyptian willow to make their baskets, furniture, and fishing poles.

Manufacturers of willow wicker generally don’t subject their willow switches to much harsh treatment during the weaving process. Instead, these switches are so supple and thin that it’s possible to simply weave them around a frame of a more substantial material.

Willow wicker is incredibly light, but it is also highly sturdy. Since it is a natural plant material, however, this type of wicker degrades in wet conditions. If you keep willow wicker in a dry place, it might last thousands of years, but if you leave it outside for a single wet season, it might break the next time you sit on it. 

In recent years, furniture entrepreneurs have invented a variety of different ways to treat willow wicker to make it last longer in wet conditions. However, it’s probably a good idea to bring your wicker furniture under cover when it rains whether or not it has this special treatment.

Other Materials

In addition to willow, rattan, and other synthetic materials, wicker manufacturers also make this woven furniture from bamboo and a variety of types of reeds.

3. Rounded Outdoor Sectionals

Rounded outdoor sectionals are the kings of outdoor furniture. Learn more about this sectional style and what makes it such an ideal solution for your patio.

What Are Rounded Outdoor Sectionals?

Outdoor round sectionals are sectionals that form a circle. In most cases, this circle closes around a centerpiece, which may be a table or another seating arrangement.

These types of sectionals consist of multiple pieces that can each admit a certain number of people. In some cases, round outdoor sectionals may consist of just two or three pieces, but other sectionals may use six or even more pieces to make a complete circle.

Manufacturers produce these outdoor sectionals with a wide variety of different materials. For instance, it’s possible to make rounded outdoor sectionals from wood, metal, wicker, or even plastic. 

Some rounded outdoor sectionals don’t go all the way around. Instead, they form half-moon shapes. However, the one key characteristic of rounded outdoor sectionals that doesn’t change from model to model is back curvature; every rounded outdoor sectional has a curved back that makes it one small part of a complete circle. Here are examples of some round sectionals that can be quickly transformed into an round outdoor daybed

Where Do Rounded Outdoor Sectionals Look Best?

Rounded outdoor sectionals generally look best on patios that have a lot of space. If you like the curvature of rounded outdoor sectionals but you don’t have room for a full circle, you can opt for a half-moon shape instead. However, the full effect of a rounded outdoor sectional is only realized when you create a full circle with sectional sofa pieces. 

Rounded outdoor sectionals are also very popular around firepits, and give a cozy, conversational setup for everything to chat and stay warm.

What Styles of Rounded Outdoor Sectionals Are There?

Aside from the popular full-circle and half-moon varieties, manufacturers also make rounded outdoor sectionals that almost make complete circles but leave a space open for guests to get in and out of the circle. In addition, some rounded outdoor sectionals consist of sections that all have backs, but most full-circle outdoor sectionals feature some sections with backs and some sections without. 

Keep in mind that in addition to a seat or a table, you can also equip the center of your rounded outdoor seating arrangement with a gas fire pit. Nothing helps you and your guests stay cozier long into a summer light than a safe and blazing fire in the center of your sectional.

4. U-Shaped Outdoor Sectionals

U-shaped outdoor sectionals create comfortable conversational seating arrangements that all of your guests can enjoy. Here’s some basic background info on U-shaped sectionals that will help you make a decision.

What Are U-Shaped Outdoor Sectionals?

These types of sectionals feature sections that form a U-shape. Despite the fact that the letter “U” features curves, most U-shaped outdoor sectionals feature right angles. These types of sectionals vary widely in size, but they’re almost all alike in their angular shapes.

Where Do U-Shaped Outdoor Sectionals Look Best?

If you have a big patio, you’ll benefit from choosing a U-shaped outdoor sectional. These types of sectionals take up a lot of room, and even if you have an extra-large patio, one of these sectionals might be enough to crowd out all the rest of your outdoor furniture.

U-shaped outdoor sectionals look great if you have other features with right angles on or near your patio. For instance, if your swimming pool is shaped like a square, a U-shaped sectional with plenty of right angles will look right at home. These sectionals also blend well with surrounding walls; they fit nicely into the nooks and crannies in your outdoor space.

What Styles of U-Shaped Outdoor Sectionals Are There?

The main difference between different types of U-shaped sectionals is size. While some U-shaped sectionals are small enough to fit on a moderately sized porch, others take up dozens of square feet. Most larger models of U-shaped sectionals feature day beds, and they may be capable of seating more than 20 people. Like other types of outdoor sectionals, manufacturers produce these pieces of outdoor furniture with materials like wicker, rattan, plastic, and metal wire.

We hope you’ve learned more about the different types of outdoor sectionals available to you, and are always happy to help if you have additional questions.



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