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DIY Modular Outdoor Seating

Hey there! Living in Texas, Fall is the BEST time for us to spend outdoors! One of the big reasons we picked the house plans that we did, when we built our house, was the balcony! I dreamed of a giant comfy sectional – the kind I see in expensive magazines – and of course my goal has been to build it! I finished it just in time – the weather has finally cooled off and this space is becoming my FAVORITE place to spend time!

DIY-Outdoor-Wood-Sectional

Not every space is built the same so I wanted to come up with a seating solution that could fit all spaces! I came up with this modular sectional that is SO easy to build.  Every piece is basically a box and you can add a backrest or leave it off and there is a corner piece to create a sectional!

Today, I’m sharing the basic box seat with the optional backrest and of course, I have the step-by-step tutorial for you to follow as well as FREE Printable Plans!  You can click HERE or the image below for the free plans!

click-for-free-plans

*You can find the plans and tutorial for the corner piece HERE!

Now, let’s get to it! I built this for outside so I chose cedar boards.

Ryobi-18v-miter-saw

To start, I used my Ryobi 18V miter saw to cut every piece. This is a great saw that runs off of the same batteries as all of our favorite Ryobi 18V tools. It’s small enough to move around with you and doesn’t take up very much space. Whitney and I actually used it on a hotel balcony when we had to cut pieces for a class (shhhhhh 😉 )

seat-cuts

I made the 2×3 cuts for all of the boxes that I wanted to build.

drill-pocket-holes

Then, I used my Kreg Jig K5 to drill pocket holes (you can find the Kreg Jig HERE on Amazon). You can refer to the plans for the pocket hole location and you can see them in the cuts picture above.

assemble-seat-frame
seat-frame
add-center-support

I attached the frame of the seat first,then added the center support piece.

attach-legs-to-seat-frame

To finish the seat frame, I just attached the legs.

add-legs

Frame = DONE 🙂 Easy enough!! Now for the slats!

attaching-slide-slats

I began attached the side slats first.  To make spacing easy, I used scrap 1/4″ pieces as spacers.  Start at the top of the seat making the top slat flush with the 2×3 frame.  I attached them with Gorilla Wood Glue and my Ryobi 18 gauge Airstrike Nailer (1 1/4″ nails for this).

side-slats-attached

Work your way to the bottom and you will have about a 1/2″ gap between the last slat and the end ground.

attach-front-slats

The front and back slats are easy.  No spacers needed, just line the slats up with the side slats, glue and nail in to place.

attach-end-top-slats

The top slats are last! I attached the front and back slats first, making them flush with the front and back slats (you will cover the slats so that you only see the top slats).

attach-top-slats

I used my 3/4″ cedar scraps to space the rest of the slats out and attached them with wood glue and my nailer. Nail these into the center support, as well.

seats-without-backs

Here are the assembled boxes! (The corner box is a different size that I will share plans to next week). At this point, you can leave it as-is or add backrests!

I opted for backrests 😉

back-posts

I cut the posts first

attach-back-posts

Then attached them to the back of each box with 2 1/2″ spax screws. The screws will go into the 2×3 legs inside the box.

attach-slats-to-back-posts

Then, I added my slats.  Begin at the top of the backrest and attache with wood glue and 1/4″ nails. I used 3/4″ spacers and attached 5 slats.

back-rest-attached

That’s it!!!! I wanted to keep the natural cedar look so I just applied 2 coats of Varathane Spar Varnish all over and called it a day 🙂

how-to-build-an-outdoor-sectional

I found a great deal on deep seat cushions at target.com.  I used my Red Card so I saved 5% after the sale price and got free shipping. I did design the seats based on the cushion measurements but they are pretty standard measurements and should fit a variety of cushions.  Just make sure to check dimensions if you choose different cushions and modify the plans accordingly. You can see the cushions that I purchased HERE.

diy-outdoor-sectional

I have mine set up to have two boxes create a coffee table that can double as ottomans

DIY-Outdoor-Modular-Seating

or they can be arranged to create a chaise lounge end

DIY-Outdoor-Seating

or this set up 🙂

DIY-Outdoor-Couch

or this!

DIY-Outdoor-Chaise-Lounge

You could even create an individual chaise lounge, or two, for a small space!

more-modular-seating-options

There are so many possibilities, even without the corner piece!

how-to-build-an-outdoor-sectional

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this space now! And, if I get bored with it I can always rearrange things;) This seating works great with our without cushions and another cool thing about this type of seating is that you can build a little to start and add to it as your budget allows! I’ll be back next week to share the corner piece plans!

Happy Building!

80 Comments

  1. Anthony on July 31, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Your page is so filled with ads these days its almost unbearable. I mean I understand you get revenue from this but there is a point where people stop coming to your site because of all the ads.Hopefully you are getting paid nice for all these. intrusive ads

  2. Jacky on February 15, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    I need this in my life! Do you know how much weight one seat can hold?

  3. Molly Tester on December 4, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    How much was this project?

  4. Cleo on July 17, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    This is really nice but I’m wondering……do the cushions slide around. I don’t see anything that holds them in place or am I missing something?

  5. Abbie Stanley on April 27, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    I can’t find a weather treated 2×3 around me, my husband says I need weather treated, what a about 2×4??

  6. Katie on April 13, 2018 at 9:39 am

    HI, I am very interested in building this. Seeing as it is 5 years after the post, I am unable to get the dimensions of the cushions to purchase from target. The links don’t work and neither does the item number. Could you possibly let me know the cushion dimensions? I would really appreciate it!

  7. Abbie Stanley on March 25, 2018 at 10:37 am

    I can not find treated 2×3 wood anywhere 😩 can I use a 2×4? How much will it throw off the dimensions or how much will the wood weather outdoors if I don’t use treated wood for the 2x3s

  8. Shonda on March 21, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    you girls rock! thank you!! keep doing you!

  9. Gordon Graham on October 11, 2016 at 11:16 am

    I’m getting ready to start this project… I see a lot of comments requesting the cushion size but no answer… The link on target is no longer available but I’m sure I can find cushions if i have the proper dimensions. Is the finished cube 24×24?

  10. Jon Garvin on July 9, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    I wish I would have looked for cushions before building this. Target no longer sells the ones listed above and I have had no luck locating any. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    • Shanty2Chic on July 9, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      I’m showing that there are other colors available. Scroll down on the target page and it will show you other options. Looks like there is a pale green color available. It’s the Hearthstone cushion.

  11. MelissaB on April 30, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Hi –

    Is this project doable for someone without a lot of experience? I am a beginner and my husband and I want to try building this together. Where can I find the instructions for the corner piece?

    Thanks!, Melissa

  12. Cindy Dabney on April 30, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Hi. I have been dreaming of making this since last year but too many other projects got in the way. So I finally got to it. Made one piece (out of white board per the cut list) as a sample to make sure I liked the design and comfort due to the comments about the straight backrest. I found it to be very comfortable with the cushions. I was ready to build the entire project and in re- reading you instructions saw that you used cedar instead of whiteboard for outdoor use. I loaded up the lumber I bought and back to the home improvement store I went to exchange the lumber for cedar and found that they do not carry 2 x 3 lumber in cedar, nor do they have 1 x 4 s in cedar. How did you and others that stated they used cedar find lumber in those measurements? I know I can rip it down but that seems like too much work and waste. PLEASE help….I am so motivated to get this done and re do my outside area before it’s too hot here in Cali to enjoy it. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Treated lumber isn’t an option for me due to the chemicals. I thought of continuing the project with the whiteboard and then using a good outdoor sealer such as Thompsons but not sure if that will hold up. It is a lot of work to make something that isn’t going to last. The are I will be putting this is covered but outside.

    • Shanty2Chic on April 30, 2016 at 8:37 am

      You can easily use 2×4 cedar if they have it. It shouldn’t change the measurements of the frame cuts by too much. You can also swap 1×4 for 1×6 if they have it! It will change the spacing of the boards but not by much. Hope this helps!

      • Cindy Dabney on April 30, 2016 at 11:48 am

        Thank you for the quick response. I will go see what they have in those measurements.

    • Janilee Parks on July 25, 2017 at 4:16 pm

      Try cedar fence slats. You have to cut the end off but it will get the job done.

  13. Manuel Perez on April 29, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Very cool! Looks pretty easy to make. Thanks for the post.

  14. Christina on March 29, 2016 at 2:23 am

    To save a little money on wood, is it necessary to put the boards around the sides? Is it for stability or esthetics?

  15. Steven Smiddy on March 1, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    Built over the course of two days, was about $600+ for all 6 boxes. Live in California so everything is a little more expensive. Waiting on cushions which are about $300…

  16. Steven Smiddy on March 1, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Built over the course of two days, was about $600+ for all 6 boxes. Live in California so everything is a little more expensive. Waiting on cushions which are about $300.

  17. Alex on February 14, 2016 at 1:22 am

    I built these this week although I altered the dimensions slightly to accommodate different cushions. I also built “double” benches instead of individual units. I used Redwood for the frame and Cedar boards. The plans were very easy to follow for a complete novice like myself, thank you! Now I’m looking for another project!

    • Michael Bowen on March 27, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      Can you tell me what your dimensions are for the different size cushions? Thanks!

  18. Alex on February 14, 2016 at 1:19 am

    I built these this week although I altered the dimensions slightly to accommodate different cushions. I also built “double” benches instead of individual units. I used Redwood for the frame and Cedar boards. The plans were very easy to follow for a complete novice like myself, thank you!

  19. bubbasayswhat on September 16, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    I added wheels to the Ottomans, so I can push them around. I also rounded all the edges with a belt sander.

  20. Melanie Fell on July 11, 2015 at 6:56 am

    Hi Shanty2Chic can you tell me what it cost for you to do this?

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