Outdoor seating is an essential part of any outdoor entertaining area, as it impacts the overall feel of the space and how you use it. When assessing the range of seating options, from chairs and benches to bar stools, consider your requirements, the durability of different materials, the comfort factor and which styles will complement your table.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade chairs to go with an existing table, or buying a completely new outdoor dining setting, chair selection is largely guided by what suits your table in terms of size and style. Table size and shape will influence how many seats you can fit, but a good rule of thumb is to allow about 60cm of table space per person. If you’re always in need of extra seating, look at minimalist-style chairs over more substantial types with arms.
Rectangular dining tables can often accommodate an additional chair at each end, or a bench seat along one or both sides, which can be handy if you regularly cater for a crowd. Dining bench seats can also tuck completely under the table when not in use, and being a single piece of furniture, look less cluttered than a row of chairs. If you only entertain occasionally, it might be worth considering stackable chairs so they can be left in a corner until needed.
If you have a bar table or window servery bar, measure the under-bench height to ensure you choose the right sized stools. To allow for leg space, aim for a 20-30cm gap between the top of the stool seat and the base of the bench or tabletop.
Outdoor dining chairs and stools are available in a range of materials including timber, aluminium, steel, polypropylene, polyethelene (PE) wicker, rattan and resin. Weigh up what suits your budget, outdoor location and desired look.
When comparing different materials, consider style, durability and ease of maintenance. Some materials like (PE) wicker, rattan and cushioned seats will last longer in covered outdoor areas, protected from the elements, while powder-coated aluminium and timber chairs, particularly quality teak, are more weather resistant. An annual coat of oil will help keep timber chairs looking their best.
If you tend to have long, leisurely alfresco meals, comfort and support will be important, so stools and chairs with an enclosed back could be a good choice, enabling you to add an extra cushion for lumbar support if desired.
Padded seats offer a further level of comfort. Consider if you prefer outdoor chairs with arm rests, but keep in mind these can take up more space, and you will also need to check if they can be pushed under the table. An option might be to have chairs with arms at the end of the table and armless ones on the sides.
Although many outdoor tables can be bought with matching chairs, it’s also a fun and stylish idea to mix things up, creating a sense of individuality. A timber table paired with a black or white timber cross back chair can create a Hamptons/country feel, while a glass or concrete-look table teamed with aluminium chairs evokes a modern vibe. Just ensure there’s a connection between the pieces – sticking to either a dark or light colour palette often works best.
Browse our entire range of outdoor seating to get a move on planning your new alfresco living space.
Photo Credit: Brigid Arnott and James Moffatt
Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.
When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.