Is Outer outdoor furniture worth the splurge? Yes. | CNN Underscored




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Outer, an outdoor furniture company that says it makes “the world’s most durable and comfortable sofas,” has been popping up practically everywhere. From targeted ads on Facebook, #sponcon on Instagram and even alluring TV commercials, there’s a good chance you’ve caught a glimpse of Outer’s modular, well-designed and incredibly cushy-looking outdoor sofas and chairs (that also happen to be sustainably-made) over the past six months or so. But with any new brand you see online, you always have to wonder — is it actually any good?

We spent two months with Outer’s Wicker Outdoor Sofa braving summer thunderstorms, a few tropical storms and, of course, the blazing heat to see how well it actually held up.

Gorgeous, modular outdoor furniture.

Outer’s outdoor sofas come with thick memory foam cushions and custom, protective covers. The cushions are also machine-washable.

Our Outer Wicker Outdoor Sofa With 3 seats and Palisades Cream cushions arrived just two days after ordering, but shipping and delivery times range depending on which product you order and where you are located. You can either opt for “white glove” delivery (which includes set up and haul away of the boxes) when you check out for an added fee, or you can assemble and set up your sofa yourself. Outer’s wicker collection arrives in easy-to-handle boxes (like so many couch-in-a-box brands) and requires light assembly. Outer’s Teak and Aluminum collections, however, come fully assembled.

It took just 25 minutes to assemble our Wicker Outdoor Sofa, which came in three boxes and included all the hardware needed to assemble. All you need to do is unwrap the sofa and cushions, and attach the feet to each of the couch seats with the included screws and ratchet. You’ll also get a handful of blue plastic clips that snap underneath the couch to hold the pieces together in whatever formation you decide. Be sure to keep the protective strip that comes attached to the velcro on the cushions so that you can reapply it later if you pop the cushion covers into the wash. Yes, the cushion covers are all machine-washable which is a huge, game changing plus.

Delivery of the Outer sofa.

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Delivery of the Outer sofa.

If you opt for a three-seat sofa, you can configure your new outdoor couch two ways – either as a three-seater couch or as a two-seater with an extra seat. Outer has really nailed the modular sofa, ensuring that you can configure your outdoor furniture to fit into any space and meet any seating needs. The couches can also grow with you. You can purchase armless chairs

to add onto your existing couch, or accessorize with outdoor wicker armchairs.

The Wicker Outer Sofa.

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The Wicker Outer Sofa.

As soon as you start unboxing your Outer Sofa you will notice that it’s made of high-quality material. The wicker is both thick and solid, and the seating on the couch is incredibly deep. The memory foam cushions that you sit on are 6 inches tall, so it’s no surprise that they feel more like little mattresses than simple cushions for your butt. The couch also comes with back pillows and the brand’s patented OuterShell, a protective cover that zips onto the back of your cushions and rolls over them to keep them safe from rain, dirt and — given we’re outside here — bird poop.

The Outer wicker sofa and patented OuterShell covers.

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The Outer wicker sofa and patented OuterShell covers.

The OuterShell is definitely a huge selling point for these couches. While the velcro on the one side of the cushion means they are not reversible, the shells ensure that you can keep your cushions safe from the elements without having to take them in every single night. Outer still suggests you take your cushions in if there’s torrential rain or extreme weather, or if you aren’t using them for long periods of time. Smartly, the OuterShell also comes with a nifty handle which allows you to very easily relocate both the seat and back cushions in one trip.

The handle on the OuterShell of the Outer sofa cushion.

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The handle on the OuterShell of the Outer sofa cushion.

Since the OuterShell only wraps over the top, it does not provide total protection on either side of the cushions. If you do leave them out for periods of time, you’ll notice that dirt and rain will make their way in through the sides. The shell is a great protection solution for a day or two, but if you’re looking for 100% coverage you can also invest in a cover for your Outer sofa.

The legs of the wicker couches are also made from “polished stainless steel that will never rust,” according to Outer. In the two months we’ve had this couch, we have not experienced any rusting at all. In fact, the wicker of the sofa looks exactly as nice as it did on day one despite being left outside the entire time we’ve been testing it — yes, even during Hurricane Henri.

Detail shot of the Outer sofa in wicker after two months of testing.

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Detail shot of the Outer sofa in wicker after two months of testing.

There are two main ways to clean your Outer sofa. You can use a hose and dish detergent to clean the covers outside. If stains won’t budge or you want to thoroughly wash your covers before you store them away for the winter, you can also take the covers off the cushions and pop them into your washing machine. We mentioned this earlier, but definitely be sure to save the protective film that comes attached to the velcro on the covers. If you wash them with the velcro uncovered, you could end up with pilled sections of fabric from it snagging in the wash.

Outer states that its cushions are “fade-proof, stain-resistant, water-resistant and easy to clean.” Even though it pained us to do this, we did leave the cushions uncovered over the course of a few days during our testing to see how well they’d hold up. We also spilled soda over the cushions, which is honestly bound to happen at some point, to see just how stain-resistant they really are.

The soda washed off immediately with just hose water. The hose and detergent also worked well on any dirt that had seeped into the sides of the cushions, but we weren’t able to fully remove the bird poop from two of the cushions.

Before and after shot of stain-resistance testing on the Outer sofa.

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Before and after shot of stain-resistance testing on the Outer sofa.

We only machine-washed our covers once, but we’d recommend it because they come out smelling great and overall looking nearly new. While we were able to reduce the spots from the bird poop to small dots on the cushions, these were the only stains that we could not get out of cushions entirely.

We’ll say it again – if you’re buying outdoor furniture and you’re going to keep it outside for any period of time, your cushions will definitely get dirty. Next time we’d probably opt for the darker, Pacific Fog Gray cushions because we think they may be more forgiving.

Outer’s Wicker collection is gorgeous and incredibly comfortable, but this quality does not come cheap. A wicker outdoor loveseat starts at $2,400, and the version we tested, a wicker three seat sofa, will cost you $3,550. Quality outdoor furniture is expensive in general, and Outer is no exception.

One section of the modular Outer sofa.

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One section of the modular Outer sofa.

If sustainability is important to you as a consumer, you can feel good about purchasing Outer products. The wicker collection is environmentally responsible as it’s made from 30% recycled plastic bottles. Since we’ve been testing, Outer has opened neighborhood showrooms in customer’s homes across the US so that you can check out its products before committing to a purchase too.

If you’re in the market for outdoor furniture and you are looking to invest in high-quality, durable pieces then you should definitely consider Outer. The wicker is not only gorgeous to look at, but also incredibly solid. And we’ve found the memory foam cushions to be the most comfortable we’ve ever sat on when it comes to outdoor furniture.



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