Getting some sunshine and fresh air is a relaxing way to spend a nice day. So, it only makes sense to create your own enjoyable outdoor space with a functional and beautiful patio dining set. Use these buying tips to help choose the patio furniture at which you’ll enjoy meals, entertain, sip your morning coffee, and more. It’s simple when you follow a few helpful steps…
Where would you like to place your patio dining set? Take a look at your patio or backyard area and measure the available space. It’s key to leave enough room so you can move around the tables and chairs comfortably. For example, if you have a narrow deck, it doesn’t make sense to buy a large, round table. Instead a small, square or rectangular patio dining table may fit better.
Consider the traditional space needs for indoor dining tables, too. You’ll want at least three feet of open space on all sides of the table so people have enough room to pull out their chairs. This is especially important on a deck, poolside, or in an area where railings or steps dictate the boundaries.
After measuring your space for table size and shape, you can begin to narrow down your best patio dining set options. If you have a big backyard to fill, there are plenty of categories from which to choose. Oval and rectangular tables typically seat the most people, and some even offer extension leaves for when extra guests arrive. You should also take a look at outdoor sectional dining sets that offer a variety of seating configurations.
If you’re putting your outdoor dining set on a smaller balcony, consider a bistro or bar-height patio set over a standard-height set. This leaves the space more open visually, and bar-height tables often have smaller perimeters to save space on your balcony. Tall patio dining sets also create a more intimate setting. The shape of your patio dining furniture can make a big impact on the overall look. Rectangular or oval tables typically have a more formal feel, whereas round or square tables can feel more casual.
What’s the best material for patio dining tables? Your answer depends largely on your personal preference for the appearance, but two other factors to consider are its weather durability and amount of care the material requires. Here are some options:
- Wood patio dining sets: Wood offers a timeless look, but avoid choosing a soft wood if you plan to put your patio furniture on grass. Moisture can easily rot the wood. A great wood to consider is teak because it weathers the elements well and ages nicely. It’s highly durable and more moisture-resistant than other woods.
- Mosaic patio dining sets: These tile-covered tabletops can add a pop of color and art to your outdoor space. Their frames are typically made of metal.
- Recycled plastic outdoor dining sets: Made from post-consumer plastics, this material is a great way to keep your home eco-friendly. Recycled plastic sets are often lighter and easier to move around.
- Resin wicker patio dining sets: Often UV resistant, this material is great for moist climates and comes with a wide array of looks and finishes. Resin wicker is similar to a denser version of plastic, so it’s more durable than natural wicker. These pieces are typically heavier and aren’t as easy to move around.
- Metal patio dining sets: There are so many different metals to choose from, including aluminum patio sets, steel outdoor dining tables, and wrought iron patio sets. Be sure to research the outdoor furniture material care required. Some metal will corrode more easily. Very lightweight pieces can also blow around if you live in an area with high winds.
When you’re planning your outdoor dining set ideas, keep in mind how many people you will typically need to seat. Do you entertain frequently? Do you prefer wider seats? Standard tables usually accommodate four to eight diners, but you can also find tables for two and tables for 10 or more. Often, sets come with the appropriate number of chairs, which removes the guesswork on your part if you purchase a patio dining set.
Each person seated around the table should have at least 24″ — but ideally 30″ — of space to avoid bumping elbows. If you’re buying chairs separately from the table, use this formula to determine how many chairs will fit the table: Divide the table’s perimeter measurement in inches by 24 (minimum amount of space) or by 30 (to provide more elbow room). For example, a table measuring 82″ x 40″ has a 244″ perimeter so could fit 10 chairs, or, more comfortably, 8 chairs. Be sure to look at the measurements of the chairs you are purchasing and even sketch out a diagram so there’s no surprises when they arrive.
You may want to select your patio set based on the outdoor dining chairs that come with it. Some chairs take up less space, which allows for more people to sit at the table. Some chairs are designed with ultimate comfort as the goal and have a sling or cushion included. Other chairs are designed with portability and ease of storage in mind. Many patio chairs are designed to be weather resistant because they have to endure the elements throughout the year.
Consider which features are key to your comfort and best fit your dining and entertaining needs. Here is a list of chair features to keep in mind as you shop:
- Swivel chairs: Most swivel chairs come with arms, and many also offer a rocker feature. Kids love to swivel, and they’re also handy for added mobility.
- Sling chairs: Comfortable and quick drying, sling style seating often has a mesh-look fabric that extends from the seat ot he back to cradle your body.
- Cushioned seats: Choices abound with cushioned chair styles. Let your inner designer go to work as you select the color, pattern, and padding that suits your fancy. One bonus — you can change out the cushions as your tastes change!
- Stackable chairs: Convenient and space saving, stacking dining chairs also let you store them away until needed.
- Quick-dry materials: If you live in a rainy climate or use your dining set poolside, you may want to avoid pillows and padding and instead opt for metal, wood, or plastic chairs that repel moisture.
- Folding chairs: Great for impromptu guests, folding chairs are also ideal for portability. Some patio sets even offer folding chair storage in the table base.
When shopping around for the outdoor dining furniture that best suits you, also keep in mind these extras that may be included with your set or available as add-ons:
- Umbrella: If your outdoor space doesn’t get much shade, having a table with an umbrella hole can make the area even more inviting. Plus, you can choose an umbrella in your favorite style and color to add to your set.
- Folding or stackable table: You may want the option of collapsing your table and storing it during the winter. For added convenience, look for a folding patio dining table that offers chair storage, too.
- Storage space: Having drawers or an under-table shelf lets you keep dining accessories like napkins and utensils close by. You can also purchase separate pieces such as a small deck box or outdoor storage ottoman to organize these items.
- Extendable tables: For the occasional bigger party, having an extending table or the option to add table leaves is great way to accommodate more people.
- Outdoor chair cushions: Add comfort and style to wood or metal chairs with the perfect colors, patterns, and textures to complement your patio set.
Outdoor dining is a great way to entertain, relax, and gather with friends and family. Use these buying tips to choose a patio dining set and you’ll be on your way to creating a backyard space that your guests will flock to when the weather’s fine.