The Complete Guide to Buying an Outdoor Dining Set

Originally Published on December 23, 2017. Last Updated on May 13, 2024.

Dining alfresco is one of life’s greatest joys. And when it’s from the comfort of your own backyard? Even better. Forget those hard-to-get reservations and exorbitant cocktail prices—with the right furniture, you can transform your patio, balcony, or deck into a dream dining destination. Read on to discover the best tables, chairs, and accent furniture for your space and hosting style.

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Step 1: Is a Dining Set Right for You?
Step 2: Determine Usable Space
Step 3: Choose the Right Size Set
Step 4: Find Your Styles
Step 5: Pick the Perfect Hue
Step 6: Opt for the Best Materials
Step 7: Accessorize
BONUS: Do you need a rug?

Step 1: Is a Dining Set Right for You?

Dining furniture typically comes in three height options: standard, counter, and bar. Standard dining tables are lowest to the ground, typically between 28- and 32-inches tall. The seat height of standard dining chairs is between 16 and 20 inches. Counter furniture is slightly taller; bar furniture is the tallest option.

Standard-height dining furniture is versatile enough to dress up or down, easily transitioning from a casual weeknight meal to a formal dinner party. It’s also a practical option for young families and multigenerational gatherings, as the chairs are easiest to get in and out of. That said, counter and bar furniture is a better option for taller folks.

Step 2: Determine Usable Space

Dining Set Measurement Guidelines - Make sure you have 3 feet of clearance on all sides.

Now that you’ve determined the right height for your dining set,  it’s time to see how much usable square footage you’re working with. (This is crucial before getting to the next step.) Use painter’s tape to mark out how much floor space you can comfortably allocate to your dining set and jot down those measurements. 

We recommend leaving three feet of clearance on all sides of dining sets so there’s enough room to pull out chairs and walk around without bumping into walls or surrounding furniture. Here’s a quick formula to follow to ensure you pick furniture that fits your space.

[Usable square footage] – [6 feet width] – [6 feet depth] = [Ideal dining set dimensions]

Step 3: Choose the Right Size Set

Now that you know how much room you have for a dining set, consider how many people you want to accommodate—as well as the events you plan to host. Even if you have room for an eight-person set, it may not be the best option if you don’t host large groups frequently. 

And if you’re short on space but enjoy having everyone over for game nights or dinner parties, you can opt for a leaf table and folding chairs that store when not in use. 

Step 4: Find Your Styles


When it comes to your dining chairs, comfort is key. Whether lingering over another round or playing an hours-long card game, you want seats that feel supportive, ideally with 24–30 inches between guests to allow plenty of elbow room.

Arm chairs: Armrests enhance comfort and personal space but restrict the ability to add extra seats to the table. 

Side chairs: Armless design optimizes room around the table and is easy to get in and out of when space is tight; less comfortable for extended sitting.  

Swivel chairs: Provides a 360-degree view without moving your chair but the heavy bases make them harder to move when needed.

Benches: Great for little ones or squeezing more guests in but doesn’t offer lumbar support. 

Folding chairs: Easy to store when not in use but may not feel as sturdy; available style options are often limited. 


In terms of both form and function, a table’s shape and leg style are both important considerations when shopping for outdoor dining furniture.

POLYWOOD Outdoor Table Guidelines

Square tables: Thanks to their balanced width and depth, square tables encourage conversation among all diners. They fit in well with small and large layouts but may pose a spatial challenge in narrower spaces. 

POLYWOOD Park 48-inch Square Table POLYWOOD Studio 30-inch Square Bistro Table POLYWOOD Farmhouse 37-inch Dining Table

Round tables: Inviting and inclusive, round tables are great for intimate gatherings and game nights as everyone can see one another. While it has a smaller footprint than its square counterpart, its lack of corners results in less surface for serving. 

POLYWOOD Round 48-inch Dining Table POLYWOOD Nautical Trestle 48-inch Round Dining Table POLYWOOD Round 36-inch Dining Table

Rectangle table: This is the most common shape and the easiest to accommodate more people, but conversations will not flow as well with the whole group. The long, linear design works best for narrow floor plans. 

POLYWOOD EDGE 40-inch by 78-inch Dining Table POLYWOOD Rustic Farmhouse 39-inch by 75-inch Dining Table POLYWOOD Lakeside 37-inch by 72-inch Farmhouse Dining Table

Trestle legs: This leg style features centerline trestle supports that are connected by one or more stretchers, offering generous legroom for all guests and more seating flexibility around the table’s perimeter.

POLYWOOD Farmhouse Trestle 38-inch by 96-inch Dining Table POLYWOOD Nautical Tresle 39-inch by 97-inch Dining Table POLYWOOD Farmhouse 59-inch Square Dining Table

Pedestal legs: A classic design, this leg style features one or more central column(s), which frees up the entire length of the table for seating guests. End seats have the most legroom.

POLYWOOD Nautical 37-inch by 72-inch Dining Table POLYWOOD Lakeside 37-inch by 72-inch Farmhouse Dining Table POLYWOOD Nautical 44-inch Square Dining Table


Step 5: Pick the Perfect Hue

Your guests will want to relax in comfortable chairs as they’re enjoying their food and conversations. You can choose chairs designed to match your dining table or mix it up with eclectic designs. For simplicity and ease, you can also buy a complete dining set that comes with a table and two, four, or six matching chairs.

Furniture Color Considerations

What’s your main color scheme?

Before picking your new dining set’s hue, take a big-picture look at your space. Note the color of your home’s exterior and walkways, any current furniture, and the surrounding landscape. 

Do you want matching, complementary, or contrasting colors?

With those colors in mind, decide if you want to match this set with your current furniture or existing architectural features, play into nature’s palette, or add contrast with a bold new hue. 

POLYWOOD Lumber Color Combinations

What’s your local climate?

Environmental conditions also play a role here. Light colors absorb less heat and may be better suited to hot, sunny places. Mid-tone neutrals like beige and grey camouflage dust and pollen best. 

Popular Outdoor Furniture Colors

Sandy beige: Light and bright, this classic neutral works well with most aesthetics. 

POLYWOOD Lakeside 7-piece Farmhouse Dining Set in Sand POLYWOOD Lakeside 5-piece Side Chair Dining Set in White POLYWOOD Vineyard 9-piece Farmhouse Dining Set With Trestle Legs in Vintage Sahara

Grey and black: Sleek, chic, and confident, grey and black are versatile hues that are easy to design around.

POLYWOOD Chippendale 7-piece Dining Set in Slate Grey POLYWOOD Vineyard -piece Dining Set in Black POLYWOOD Oxford 7-piece Farmhouse Dining Set in Slate Grey

Browns: These natural, elemental hues blend beautifully with natural surroundings.

POLYWOOD Traditional Garden Arm Chair 6-piece Farmhouse Dining Set with Trestle Legs & Bench in Teak POLYWOOD EDGE 7-piece Dining Set in Mahogany POLYWOOD Vineyard 7-Piece Farmhouse Dining Set with Trestle Legs in Vintage Sahara

Deep Green: A more playful earth tone, this lush shade echoes the color of pine trees.

POLYWOOD Nautical Folding Highback Chair 7-Piece Dining Set in Green POLYWOOD Vineyard 7-piece Arm Chair Dining Set in Green POLYWOOD Chippendale 5-piece Round Farmhouse Dining Set in Green

Turquoise: This tropics-inspired hue is a breath of fresh air for coastal homes and poolside paradises.  

POLYWOOD Nautical Curveback Adirondack 7-Piece Dining Set with Trestle Legs in Aruba POLYWOOD Palm Coast 7-Piece Dining Set in Aruba La Casa Café 5-Piece Round Farmhouse Dining Set in Aruba

Citrus: Orange, lemony yellow, and lime green are bright happy hues that add energy anywhere. 

POLYWOOD Classic Adirondack 5-Piece Round Farmhouse Dining Set in Tangerine POLYWOOD La Casa Café 7-Piece Dining Set in Lemon POLYWOOD La Casa Café 5-Piece Round Farmhouse Dining Set in Lime

Navy and White: Classic and preppy, this color combination stuns in nautical settings. 

POLYWOOD Modern Curveback Adirondack 7-Piece Farmhouse Dining Set with Trestle Legs in Navy POLYWOOD South Beach 5-Piece Round Farmhouse Dining Set in Navy POLYWOOD Vineyard Curveback Adirondack 9-Piece Nautical Trestle Dining Set in Navy

Step 6: Opt for the Best Materials

Outdoor dining sets are available in many materials. When it comes to choosing the best one, you want to strike the right balance of durability, aesthetics, minimal maintenance, and price. Here’s a snapshot of the most common materials and how they compare:


Teak and Other Hardwoods


(Note: Wicker refers to the weaving technique of both natural and synthetic materials.)



Step 7: Accessorize

You’ve chosen the best dining set for your outdoor space, but for maximum comfort, you need some essential accessories. And you want ones made with durable all-weather materials that can live outside any time of year and dry quickly after a passing rainstorm. 

Our adjustable patio umbrellas (available in standard or bar heights and several color combinations) offer the final design touch while giving you the flexibility to dine under the sun or in the shade.

POLYQOOD Nautical Curveback Adirondack 7-Piece Dining Set with Trestle Legs in Vintage White and 9' Tilt Market Umbrella & Base in Bronze/Spa
Featured: Nautical Curveback Adirondack 7-Piece Dining Set with Trestle Legs in Vintage White and 9′ Tilt Market Umbrella & Base in Bronze/Spa

Our pillows and seat cushions add support and keep you comfortable through the last course. Each one is tailored to fit a POLYWOOD dining chair perfectly, but you can customize your look with several performance fabric options. 

You can even create more serving space with coordinating side tables and other accent furniture. 

Should You Add a Rug?

You may choose to lay a rug underneath your dining set to protect the surface of a deck or patio and visually unify the space. An outdoor rug is also a good opportunity to add a little splash of color or personality to your open-air eatery.

Rugs aren’t required, especially if your dining furniture is situated on grassy lawn—or if you simply like the look, feel, and cost savings of not including one. And if you have an uncovered balcony, patio, or deck that experiences heavy rainfall, keep in mind you may have to expend more energy maintaining your rug. 

Even if your space is covered, we recommend opting for an outdoor rug that can weather the elements. Additionally, you should make sure it is large enough to completely cover the square footage beneath your seating area (plus some) to ensure chair legs don’t get caught and tripping hazards are minimized.

10 thoughts on “The Complete Guide to Buying an Outdoor Dining Set

  1. I cannot seem to find a dealer of your furniture in my area–I live in Appleton Wisconsin and am very interested in 2 or 3 bristo chairs and table sets.can you point me in the right direction to one or two dealers? THANKS

  2. Hey, thanks for sharing such a great article. It really describes how to buy the best outdoor furniture. I bought a solid wood patio bench for my outdoor garden from an online store in Dubai. It was of good quality suits my garden. Thanks for sharing this, especially with the pics(it really helped)

  3. I like that you mentioned how outdoor dining sets are available in a variety of styles, sizes, and materials. Our patio is empty right now, so I think we should put outdoor dining furniture on it. It seems there are various types available nowadays, so we should pick one set that would fit our patio.

  4. Are you s

    till making the 72inch picnic

    I hope you are still making the 72″ Polywood picnic tables? If so, how to I locate a place to purchase one? I am in North Carolina. Thank You.

    1. Hi Marilyn, We do still make the 72″ Picnic table and you can find a dealer in your area by clicking the Showrooms link at the top of the website. Happy shopping!

  5. I would love to see a larger ROUND dining table made by polywood. We want one that can seat 6-8 people comfortably and have been looking for one that has a diameter of 72″ with the more refined look of the trestle legs but the construction of a central/pedestal type base. We are not willing to compromise on the shape or size, and are not sure if a custom order is possible with this company.

    1. Hi Kristen, Thanks for reaching out! While our products are built-to-order, we do not offer specialty items or customization options.Thanks!

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