The Complete Guide to Buying an Outdoor Bar or Counter Set

Originally Published on January 31, 2018. Last Updated on March 18, 2024.

Mimosa brunches, after-dinner decafs, and cocktail hour: Some things are better outside. Bar and counter dining sets are popular for these kinds of casual affairs. They’re higher than standard dining furniture, so guests can comfortably sit or stand as they snack, socialize, or drink.

 But how do you know which set will suit you best? This step-by-step buying guide is here to help you answer that question. So, pull up a seat, and let’s dig in.

Jump to Section
Step 1: Are Bar or Counter Sets Right for You?
Step 2: Determine Your Available Space

Step 3: Pick Your Furniture Materials
Step 4: Define Your Style
Step 5: Choose the Best Color
Step 6: Accessorize

Step 1: Are Bar or Counter Sets Right for You?

A bar or counter set might be an excellent fit for you if you have taller family members to seat, limited space, or you want an unobstructed view from your balcony. These setups are also ideal enhancements for outdoor kitchens and rooftop bars as they align with countertop and pub ledge heights.

What's the difference between dining, counter, and bar furniture?
Read More At: What’s the Difference Between Bar-Height vs. Counter-Height Outdoor Furniture?

Bar-height furniture—also called pub-height—generally stands between 40 and 42 inches tall. That’s about six inches higher than counter-height pieces, which average 34–36 inches. Dining-height tables and chairs are typically 17–30 inches, making them 4–12 inches shorter than the two taller styles.

Bar and Counter Furniture Pros and Cons

POLYWOOD Braxton 9-Piece Farmhouse Trestle Bar Set in Vintage Sahara
Featured: Braxton 9-Piece Farmhouse Trestle Bar Set in Vintage Sahara


  • Ideal for taller folks needing more legroom
  • Unobstructed views over railings
  • Takes up less floor space
  • Higher tabletops draw the eye up


  • Less practical for kids and shorter individuals
  • Hard to move chairs if feet don’t reach the ground
  • Not wheelchair accessible

Step 2: Determine Your Available Space

How much space do you need for a bar- or counter-height patio dining set?

If you’re confident that a counter or bar set is the best choice, make sure you have the room to fit one before purchasing. Grab a tape measure, some painter’s tape, paper, and a pencil: Let’s measure.

  • Measure your outdoor space: Use tape to mark how much free space you have for a dining set. Note it—this will be extremely helpful throughout the shopping process.
  • Ensure there’s enough room: Your guests need space to move freely between chairs and around the table.
  • Consider storage: If you don’t opt for all-weather materials, do you have enough space to store furniture during winter?

Step 3: Pick Your Furniture Materials

Bar sets are available in a wide variety of materials. When it comes to choosing the right materials for your bar sets, you’ll want to take several factors into account:

  • Durability: How will your bar set handle harsh weather?
  • Maintenance: Will your bar set be easy to care for?
  • Appearance: How will your set look over time?
  • Surfaces: Can the materials resist stains and spills?
  • Comfort: Will the furniture feel good to sit in?
  • Weight: Is it easy to move yet heavy enough to resist wind?
  • Price: How much value for money will you get from the bar set?


Some bar sets are made of pine or other softwoods, as the material is abundant and affordable. 


  • Inexpensive
  • Easily accessible material


  • Prone to scratches and dents
  • Susceptible to pests and water damage
  • Requires regular maintenance


Hardwoods are a better choice than softwoods for a well-crafted, lasting bar set, but they are not without issues. 


  • Highly resilient and durable
  • Resists weather and outdoor elements
  • Resists dents and scratches


  • Requires regular refinishing
  • Heft makes moving difficult
  • Higher price point


Wicker is a weaving technique that can involve a variety of natural or synthetic materials, such as bamboo or high-density polyethylene (HDPE). 


  • Lightweight and easy to move
  • Well-ventilated—helpful on hot days


  • Prone to damage without constant care
  • Vulnerable to wind gusts
  • Difficult to clean and maintain


A popular choice for its durability and lighter weight, aluminum is often used to build bar sets. 


  • Durable and low-maintenance
  • Lightweight and easy to move
  • Resistant to water, rust, and pests


  • Vulnerable to wind gusts
  • Can overheat in direct sun


HDPE is a synthetic material used for building a variety of outdoor items such as fencing, patio furniture, and playground equipment. 


  • Easy to clean
  • Watertight and weatherproof
  • Infinitely recyclable and reusable


  • Higher price point
  • Heft hinders movement for larger pieces

Step 4: Define Your Style

Martha Stewart by POLYWOOD Chinoiserie 5-Piece Round Farmhouse Bar Set in Sand
Featured: Martha Stewart Chinoiserie 5-Piece Round Farmhouse Bar Set in Sand

Let your tastes and current needs determine the look you want for your bar or counter set. Buying one can feel like a big decision, but the considerations below should help you understand what to look for.


The dining table is a true workhorse, serving as a space’s focal point and the life of any party.  

Points to Consider

  • Your hosting style: Counter tables are lower, so they work well for casual and formal dining. Higher bar tables allow guests to sit or stand as they eat—a great option for informal meals. 
  • The typical length of your guestlist: Find a table that can accommodate your headcount and add 1–2 extra place settings. 
  • Available space: Make sure the area has enough square footage to fit the table size and number of chairs you want (plus additional clearance on all sides). 
  • Outdoor umbrellas: If you want to block the sun or string up overhead bistro lights, look for a table with an umbrella hole.

Table shape: Certain table shapes are better fits for different situations.

Which dining table shape will work best for your patio?

  • Rectangle: A good fit for most layouts, from large dinner parties to work-from-home spaces. Their long, linear designs complement formal occasions but fit right in with casual affairs.
  • Square: This table shape offers balance and symmetry, allowing guests to sit equidistant and be part of the conversation. It fits nicely in smaller spaces and can be pushed into corners when more room is needed.
  • Round: Versatile and symmetrical, circular tables can transition from dinner parties to poker nights. The cornerless edges allow room for extra seats and are safer for small kids.


POLYWOOD Quattro 3-Piece Bar Set in Slate Grey
Featured: Quattro 3-Piece Bar Set in Slate Grey

Great seating is key to successful entertaining. All in all, the right bar and counter chairs will be comfortable, stylish, and space-conscious. 

Points to Consider

  • Comfort: Chairs with contoured seats, armrests, and reclined backs offer the most relaxation. 
  • Durability: Well-made chairs that weather the elements and require minimal maintenance look better than the alternative. 
  • Seat height: Make sure the seats sit at the proper height so knees don’t bump up against the table’s underside.
  • Available space: Consider how much space you will need for people to move around and between chairs easily, and pick the right number and size of chairs accordingly.
  • Features: Bar and counter seats often have the same features as dining chairs, such as folding or swivel capabilities. However, taller seats are often outfitted with footrests. And while they do exist, bar- or counter-height dining benches are uncommon.

Seating Styles

Browse the benefits of various counter and bar seat designs.

  • Stools: Compact design is ideal for sliding beneath tables and ledges, yet lacks back support.
  • Arm chairs: Offers a more formal look and arm support but takes up more space than armless chairs and stools.
  • Armless chairs: Streamlined, flexible designs that offer back support and easy access.
  • Swivel chairs: These take up more room, but the 360-degree seat rotation allows freedom of movement with little effort.


  • Small Sets That Seat 2–4: Ideal for cozy balconies or poolside relaxation, these sets fit couples and small families. The tables are typically square or round and are usually more budget-friendly than medium or large sets.
    • 2-seat sets have 3 pieces
    • 4-seat sets have 5 pieces
POLYWOOD Braxton Counter Arm Chair in White and Nautical 31" Counter Table in Vintage White
Featured: Braxton Counter Arm Chair in White and Nautical 31″ Counter Table in Vintage White
  • Medium Sets That Seat 4–6: These sets offer more seating than small sets but won’t overwhelm your dining space. Their size is just right for formal occasions or casual get-togethers, with table shapes ranging from round to rectangle. Plus, they fit nicely on mid-sized terraces or as part of a multi-space setup on a sprawling deck.
    • 4-seat sets have 5 pieces
    • 6-seat sets have 7 pieces
POLYWOOD Nautical 5-Piece Bar Set in Green Next to Grill
Featured: Nautical 5-Piece Bar Set in Green
  • Large Sets That Seat 8+: Large bar and counter sets are perfect for lavish parties as they can accommodate more guests. The tables are typically rectangular or square-shaped, and they do their best work on spacious patios and roomy decks. However, their size would overwhelm medium and small rooms.
    • 8-seat sets have 9 pieces
    • 10-seat sets have 11 pieces
POLYWOOD Lakeside 9-Piece Counter Set with Trestle Legs in Slate Grey
Featured: Lakeside 9-Piece Counter Set with Trestle Legs in Slate Grey

Step 5: Choose the Best Color for Your Set

Now it’s time to pick your preferred bar or counter set color.

Questions to Ask

Unsure of your preference? Ask yourself these questions, and let the answers unlock your true colors.

  • What’s my home’s exterior color scheme?
  • Do I want exact shade matches or coordinating colors?
  • How will my outdoor environment affect the colors?

Color Schemes

  • Neutral white, sand, and beige: Keep your look open and airy with light and bright neutrals. 
POLYWOOD La Casa Cafe 5-piece Farmhouse Bar Set in Sand POLYWOOD Coastal 5-piece Counter Set in White POLYWOOD Lakeside 7-Piece Bar Set in Vintage Sahara
  • Monochromatic grey and black: Sleek, chic, and confident, grey and black are versatile hues that are easy to design around.
POLYWOOD Modern Adirondack 9-Piece Farmhouse Counter Set with Trestle Legs in Slate Grey POLYWOOD Signature 3-Piece Bar Set in Black POLYWOOD EDGE Arm Chair 7-Piece Farmhouse Counter Set with Trestle Legs in Slate Grey
  • Warm browns: These elemental tones look stunning without detracting from natural surroundings.
POLYWOOD Vineyard Curveback Adirondack 5-Piece Nautical Trestle Bar Set in Teak POLYWOOD Braxton 5-Piece Nautical Trestle Arm Chair Counter Set in Mahogany POLYWOOD Vineyard 5-Piece Round Bar Set in Vintage Sahara
  • Earthy green: Inspired by nature’s lushest landscapes, a dark, verdant green shines in outdoor settings.
POLYWOOD Country Living 3-Piece Counter Set in Green POLYWOOD Palm Coast 5-Piece Round Farmhouse Bar Set in Green POLYWOOD Chippendale 9-Piece Counter Set with Trestle Legs in Green
  • Bold tones: For a pop of personality, try a set in vibrant shades of yellow, red, lime green, orange, or blue.
POLYWOOD La Casa Café 5-Piece Round Farmhouse Counter Dining Set in Orange POLYWOOD Nautical Curveback Adirondack 5-Piece Round Trestle Bar Set in Aruba POLYWOOD La Casa Cafe 3-Piece Round Farmhouse Bar Set in Lime

Step 6: Accessorize

You’ve chosen the perfect bar set for your outdoor space, but you need the right cushions and umbrella for maximum comfort. Our cushions and patio umbrellas are made of all-weather performance fabric and engineered for all four seasons. And with our wide variety of colors and patterns, you’re sure to find just what you’re looking for.

POLYWOOD Color Pairings—White Lumber & Sky Blue Fabric POLYWOOD Color Pairings—Green Lumber & Botanical Gardens Pistachio Fabric POLYWOOD Color Pairings—Teak Lumber & Buffalo Plaid Glacier Spa

Our outdoor-friendly accessories are UV- and fade-resistant for enduring vibrancy. And after a passing rainstorm, their water repellency means they’ll be ready to use again in no time. Plus, we offer cushions in multiple sizes and shapes and umbrellas in dining and bar heights.

POLYWOOD Standard Height Umbrella POLYWOOD Bar Height Umbrella

Which POLYWOOD Bar or Counter Dining Set is the Most Comfortable?

Experience all-weather durability, aesthetic appeal, and minimal cleanup with POLYWOOD bar and counter sets. Explore our alfresco styles in our comparison guide to find the perfect fit for your family.

6 thoughts on “The Complete Guide to Buying an Outdoor Bar or Counter Set

  1. Do you sell only direct or do you have dealers?

    Also, if we need to order from you, what is the approximate shipping time to eastern VA?

  2. I need four bar chairs but no table. Do you sell the chairs separately. I live in the Virgin Islands. Do you ship there?

  3. I love the counter height table and I want swivel chairs, but I do not like the Adirondack chair as I want to sit up, and these have too much slant on seat. Is there anything compatible in a swivel for the Farmhouse counter height table?

    1. Hi Wilma, POLYWOOD’S swivel chairs are only available in the classic and modern Adirondack styles at this time. Thank you for your question!

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