Adding a table to your backyard, patio or outdoor area can open up many possibilities as to how your space will be used. From creating a nice, quiet area for outdoor reading to building a potential barbeque party dining area, Pronto's Outdoor Table Buying Guide can help you bring your outdoor vision to fruition.
Space will be your most important factor in determining what type of a table you'll want to get. A second factor is how you want the table to be used and how often you'll anticipate using it. Will you primarily want it as an outdoor dining table for the summer? Will you be having a constant stream of guests through the season and/or year?
The amount of direct sunlight that will hit your table is important in terms of deciding what type of material you'll buy. Generally, the more direct sunlight your table will have, the more worn out it will become, almost regardless of the material. Unlike with chairs or other smaller patio items, tables aren't as easy to store away from the elements.
Common outdoor table materials include metal (aluminum, steel, wrought iron), plastics (including PVC), wood, wicker (including rattan). The most popular and durable of these materials are wrought iron and teak wood.
Unless you purchase a dining set with matching tables and chairs or buy your table first before any other outdoor furniture, one of the challenges you'll have with choosing a table is matching or blending your table in with your other outdoor furniture items. Generally, the more neutral and less ornate table you buy, the easier it will blend. Sticking to the same or similar material throughout your furniture scheme is also key.
Tables are generally more conducive to add-on accessories, which may serve practical purposes, as opposed to just adding aesthetic or luxurious accents. Some accessories you might want to think about jointly purchasing or adding on to your outdoor table are patio umbrellas, accordion tables, casters (wheels), and motorized awnings.
Any table with a central single foot can be classified this way. It may or may not have various smaller “feet” springing from the centralized main foot.
Tripod tables have 3 legs, have a round tops, and have the capability to be tilted. These are commonly used as side or small dining tables.
Refectory tables are larger than standard dining tables and are always rectangular, as they are designed to seat much more than 4 people, generally. These types of tables reached popularity in the 1600s, as they were typically used in banquet halls or castle reception areas.
Gateleg and Pemroke tables are characterized by their folding sections or “leaves” supported by hinged legs or stretchers, thereby providing at least 2 size options. These can be rectangular or oval, can come with drawers, and are generally the most versatile in terms of potential usage.
Casters are wheels specifically designed for attachment to a larger object, like a table, thus making that object more easily moveable. Most casters have the capability to swivel 360 degrees.
A stretcher or stretcher beam refers to a horizontal unifying support beam or element of a table. Typically, stretchers are made of unfinished wood.
Small tables can be characterized as being for 1 to perhaps even 3 people. Tables in this category can include Tripod and Gateleg or Pembroke tables. The latter category having potential for different size adjustments, and therefore, usage, whether it be for dining with a small group or as an area for 1 or 2 people to rest a book, a drink, or anything relatively small. End tables, though, are too small to use for dining for more than one person, and thus, if you don't have much space in your outdoor area, this may be your only option.
Typically, dining tables are designed for 4 individuals, though sometimes table shape can come into play here. Sometimes rectangles or squares, unless they're larger Refectory style tables, can limit the potential amount of people at a table. With round or oval shapes, there is more potential to squeeze a few more people in. Sometimes even if you have large outdoor area, a large table can look overwhelmed by the space. Thus, it might be a nice alternative to get several smaller tables to situate groups of 2 or 3 people, thereby parsing out proportions in a way that might be more pleasing to the eye.
• Of the metal tables, steel and wrought iron are the most durable and heavy. Aluminum is the most lightweight, which may be a con, depending on how windy your area's climate can be.
• Plastics and PVC are the most affordable materials, very lightweight, and easiest to maintain. Again, though, because they're lightweight, they might not be so great in windy climates.
• Teak and cedar are the most ideal and expensive of the wood tables. Less expensive alternatives include acacia, eucalyptus, and balau. The main advantage to teak is that it ages the best and doesn't necessarily require a sealant or finish.
• Though wicker can be more comfortable than wood, easier to maintain and still retain some rustic flavor, it may not stand up from wind, and might be on the expensive side.