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As your Gateway to Outdoor Living, we at BBQ Outlets want to make sure that not only do you have a place to prep food outdoors, but also somewhere to enjoy eating it. If you want to be the host(ess) with the most(est), you’ll need somewhere for your guests to relax, enjoy their meals, and chat the night away with you. Read on to see what things you might want to consider before buying patio furniture.
First and foremost, you’ll have to decide what you want the furnished area to look like. Do you want a place for dining, gathering, or both? Do you want people spread out across couches and chairs, or do you want something a little more intimate (like a fire pit dining table)?
You’ll also need to consider how many people you plan to host at one time, as well as how much space you have to comfortably host them in. Your guests probably won’t want to be packed in like sardines since backyard gatherings tend to be more for relaxing, but you also need to make sure you’ll have the space for the number of people you plan to have over on a regular basis.
What’s the point of cooking outdoors if you can’t enjoy your meal outdoors, too?
There are many different directions you can go with dining sets. You could pick a dining table that can easily double as a place for games and group conversation, something more at a bar height for more casual interactions, or a bistro set for a couple to enjoy time together. For the seats, you’ll need to decide if you want stools or chairs with or without armrests, backing, and upholstery.
Regardless of the seating type, you’ll ideally want to allow about a foot of space between the top of a counter or table and the top of its accompanying seat. For reference, a standard table is 28 to 30 inches tall with seats about 18 to 20 inches high. A standard counter is 36 inches tall with seats about 24 to 28 inches high. A standard bar height table is 40 to 42 inches tall with seats about 30 inches high.
If you choose a dining table, you could seat up to 15 people at one time, but most will be set for 4 to 6 people, similar to one you’d have indoors. You should consider if any of your guests will require any special seating arrangements (for example: walkers, wheelchairs, etc.), because that may affect the height of the tabletop you nee d to go with.
A bar-height patio set, or a high-top seating area, is good if you have a mix of guests who want to stand and who want to sit. This is because the seated guests will be higher up, so they’ll be more at eye level with the standing guests, instead of feeling like the standing guest is hovering over them. This style is great if your guests will be enjoying a casual event with cocktails and appetizers more so than a full sit-down meal. If you plan to have larger gatherings, a high-top set would complement additional furniture well.
If dining outside alone or with just your significant other is more your speed, you might want to consider a patio bistro set. This will create a smaller, cozier area for the two of you to dine together – a small table with enough space for dinner and drinks for 1-2 people. You’ll feel just like you’re sitting outside a European café! A set like this can still comfortably fit in a smaller area, so you’ll have more space in your backyard to use for other purposes. Pretty much the only way to get more intimate is with a loveseat (love is in the name, after all!)
If your outdoor space is going to be designed more for relaxing while chit-chatting, you might want a conversational seating set. This can include furniture like sofas and loveseats, chairs, cocktail or coffee tables, side tables, and firepit tables. These setups are usually more like what you’d find in an indoor living room – plush, comfy seats with thick cushions to relax on.
You should consider if you would like to have a more spread-out lounge set up or a something a little more intimate. If you have a wider seating area, you might want to go the deep seating route with several separate pieces. The beauty of this is that if you need even more seating or really want to customize your space more, you can just purchase more furniture. Of course, this gives your gatherings more of an individual, spread-out feel than an intimate setting you’d get with sectional furniture pieces.
A sectional set is good for someone who wants to host more intimate gatherings or have deep conversations with good friends for hours on end. You can still comfortably seat plenty of guests, but they’ll be a lot closer together than deep seating. Sectional sets consist of connected furniture pieces so you’ll make use of the full space instead of having gaps in the seating. It is going to be a little harder to expand seating if you have a sectional set, though, because you’ll have to pay attention to matching the aesthetic with the additional pieces. You should for sure try to make sure you have the right number of seats to start with if you’re going this route.
Once you’ve determined what type of furniture you’re looking for and how much you’ll need, you’ll need to think about what you want it made out of. From a practical standpoint, where you live impacts what materials your outdoor furniture should be made of because certain materials might work better in certain climates. You’ll also want to think about the “look” you’re going for, too.
One option is furniture made of solid, sturdy cast aluminum. This heavier material is naturally rustproof and is built to last in wet and salty climates.
An alternative to cast aluminum is a furniture frame made from hollow (and lighter!) aluminum. It’s still going to be rustproof and durable in wet and salty climates, but because it’s lighter, it’s not as stable and sturdy in a super windy environment. That said, you can move it easier yourself if you ever feel like rearranging.
If you prefer a wooden look, perhaps consider furniture made from teak. This tough hardwood is going to be water and weather resistant. Teak is also resistant to pests and mildew. It might be a bit more expensive upfront, but it should last you a lifetime. You won’t have to worry about the teak warping or cracking, but it will wind up with a silver-gray colored patina as it ages in direct sunlight. This finish can be beautiful, but if you want your furniture to keep its original coloring, you should finish it with a teak sealer like tung oil or linseed. You can also maintain it with varnish.
A wooden option that’s cheaper than teak is acacia wood. This looks similar to teak, but its tone can vary in color. It’s usually a reddish brown or medium-golden color. Acacia is especially beautiful when there are streaks or waves of different colors mixed in the wood grain. Additionally, acacia will have a grayish patina and a mellow glow if you do not treat it. Acacia is not as durable as teak, but it should be able to resist rotting. It has a harder time resisting woodboring insects, though.
Another material to consider is a synthetic, woven wicker. Synthetic wicker will have a natural look but natural wicker quickly becomes brittle and can crumble in moisture. High density polyethylene (HDPE) is the most natural looking version out there. It’s also more durable than other choices here because it’s resistant to stains and fading in the sunlight. The next toughest material is polyethylene. This will be waterproof and have acid resistance, but it can get brittle under the sun. PVC is another option, but it’s lower-end, not eco-friendly, and won’t last long under the sun.
A more environmentally-friendly option is recycled plastic. Believe it or not, this material is pretty durable and solid. You’ll be able to select recycled plastic furniture in many great colors and styles. Plus, it’s very easy to clean with minimal upkeep. Always remember to keep recycled plastic away from fire.
There are tons of possible fabric materials out there, but polyester and acrylic fabrics tend to be the most popular choices.
Polyester is lightweight, strong, and fairly resistant to shrinking and warping. It doesn’t absorb much water and is resistant to most chemicals, but it’s very tough to clean grease and oils from polyester. One problem you’ll find with polyester is the fabric can be prone to pilling and static. Textilene polyester is often used for sling furniture.
Solution-dyed acrylic fabric is the most resilient material for patio furniture. Acrylic fabrics are very tough, easily resisting stains, fading, and fungus. If you’re looking for a wrinkle-resistant, soft, and comfortable fabric, look no further! Acrylics can be cleaned with bleach and still maintain their vibrant colors, but you should never dry clean or tumble dry this fabric.
If you’re looking for a beach/chaise lounge style chair, you might want sling style furniture. These are hammock style chairs that can be built out of various frame materials and fabrics. These are usually designed to be folded and stackable. Sling furniture tends to be easier to clean than cushions. Slings are not immune to warping, but they are fairly resistant to it.
A fun and easy way to add some personality to your patio furniture is with décor like outdoor throw pillows. You can use different fabrics, prints, textures, and designs to customize your outdoor area to your individual style. Just make sure to choose pillows made with a fabric that is good for the outdoors, such as polyester or acrylic.
There are so many ways to integrate fire into your outdoor space and hypnotize your guests with the beautiful blaze. If you and/or your guests are pyromaniacs like we are, you should definitely consider some sort of fire pit or dining table. Fire pits also give you the advantage of additional heat on a cool night. Plus, s’mores. Need we say s’more?
If you’re going to invest in a nice seating or dining area, you probably want to make sure it stays nice! Consider investing in furniture cleaners, conditioners, and sealers that are appropriate for your specific patio furniture set. Keep your outdoor cushions clean, and consider storing them in an outdoor cushion box during inclement weather. Another thing that can help you maintain your furniture is a patio furniture cover, or even moving your furniture into storage when it’s not in season.
We know this is a lot to think about, so if you still need help making your decision, please contact our BBQ experts at 800-437-4188. We’re happy to talk you through all things cutlery so that your outdoor kitchen is set up perfectly for your needs.