by Staff Writer
When the weather is nice outside, nothing beats eating dinner or doing other activities outdoors on the patio. Whether you want to have your morning coffee, throw a dinner party or have an outdoor surface for books and projects, patio tables are just the thing for you. There are several factors to consider before purchasing a patio table; fortunately, this patio table buying guide walks you through the process of choosing the best patio table.
Material: The material of the patio table determines more than its look. The material also affects durability and formality. Wood tables, such as teak, cedar, eucalyptus or acacia, are more traditional options in outdoor furniture that accentuate the natural. Woods that have been stained or sealed handle weather better than those that have not, and wooden patio tables will often develop a patina over time. Metal patio tables, especially iron tables, are very formal garden and patio furniture, but they are some of the most durable options, too. Metal patio tables can be very heavy, making them great for windy locations. Keep in mind that certain metals may rust over time. Plastic or PVC patio tables are lightweight, low maintenance and easy on the budget, but they can mildew in wet climates. Wicker or rattan patio tables are the epitome of casual and go well with the country or cottage styles of decor. Wicker patio tables can also mildew. Keep these pros and cons in mind when you're online shopping for patio tables and other outdoor furniture.
Size and shape: Patio tables come in a wide range of sizes and shapes for you to choose from. Round tables take up less space than rectangular tables, are more casual and can be used for a variety of purposes. Square patio tables are also a good option if you have a small patio or if only a few people will be dining outside. Rectangular and oval patio tables are more formal, require a large patio and can seat many people for dinner. Bistro tables, cafe tables and bar tables are small and very informal, making them perfect for lunch for two or for small patios and balconies.
Use: If you plan to use your patio table for dining, make sure to get a table that can seat your family or regular guests. Bistro tables are designed to seat two. Square tables up to 40 inches can comfortably seat four, as can round tables up to 44 inches and oblong tables up to 46 inches. Patio tables up to about 56 inches can seat six, while tables up to about 70 inches can seat eight. Tables with larger dimensions can seat 10, 12 or even 16. A good rule of thumb to follow is 18 to 24 inches per person, with 6 to 12 inches between place settings. Follow these same dimensions if you plan to use the patio table for games, craft projects and other activities so the same number of people can participate.
Chairs and umbrellas: Most patio tables are at regular dining height, so you'll need some patio chairs or outdoor benches to go with them. Purchase a set of patio chairs separately from the patio table for a unique, contemporary style or buy a patio dining set so they all match. If you plan to use your patio table a lot during the day, consider investing in a patio umbrella to shade your outdoor living space. You can purchase patio tables with a hole in the center for the umbrella to pass through or you can buy an offset umbrella with a pole set off to the side, where it's not in the way. Adding other pieces of patio furniture, such as porch swings and rocking chairs, to your patio table will make your garden feel more like an outdoor living room.
Make eating outside easier with outdoor tableware and outdoor dining sets. These staples of outdoor dining are sturdy, easy to clean and affordable. Many sets also include brightly colored tablecloths or placemats to help you set an attractive patio dining table.