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Tips for Choosing the Best Patio Furniture - Buying Guide 2024

Metal tolix style chairs

Your patio is an extension of your restaurant. Just as you would do indoors, your restaurant patio is a place where you host guests, relax over a cup of coffee, dine with your family, socialize with your friends and more. So why not treat your patio space with the same care and consideration that goes into designing and furnishing your indoor dining area? While there are many decisions to make on an outdoor restaurant design, patio furniture is the foremost consideration when designing your restaurant patio space.

Function and Usage

Commercial outdoor furniture brings comfort and function to your outdoor dining area. However, restaurant patio furniture comes in many different configurations, styles, colors, materials, shapes, etc. Choosing the right one for your venue requires some research. Buying patio furniture involves a lot of the same steps as buying indoor restaurant furniture. Upon deciding on which furniture piece to purchase, you should also ask how you want to use it for your outdoor location.

Do you plan to host outdoor events regularly and seat guests at a patio dining set with folding tables and patio arm chairs? Or do you want your patio space to be a social hangout with small tables for games and snacks along with a couple of restaurant patio chairs with seat cushions? If you host a large crowd that immensely enjoys al fresco dining (when the weather allows), you may want to consider purchasing a set of patio tables. You need to evaluate the space you are planning to furnish. Are you outfitting a hardwood deck, poolside, garden or a patio? These outdoor areas have their own unique characteristics to consider when deciding on what patio furnishings to buy. This also helps you choose furniture made of materials that are a good match to their environment and surroundings.

Design and Logistics

Patio dining areas have some particular elements that need to be factored into an outdoor design and layout. Many of these design and layout regulations are applicable to any dining space; indoors and outdoors. Though other design facets are exclusive to outdoor locations:

  • Doorways to the building’s exterior must be easily navigable
  • Signage with a simple message Patio Open should be used as an indication to guests that you are open for business
  • All items must be carried out and set up for the day and removed into off-street storage at night
  • Commercial outdoor furniture, signs, lighting and other decorations can be fixed to the floors or walls
  • Items must withstand high winds, especially on uneven floors
  • Have sufficient shade and weather protection
  • Patio furniture needs to be waterproof, UV resistant, and stackable
  • For added comfort and protection from the sun patio umbrellas are a desirable feature
  • Outdoor heaters and/or fans should be provided
restaurant patio design

Measuring Your Patio Space

Just as you would draw a floor plan for your indoor space; you would also need to measure your patio area to determine how much furniture you can fit. Apply the same principles of traffic flow that you would normally use indoors. How much space do you have and how is it shaped? Is it long and narrow like a balcony or is it wide and broad like a deck? You don’t want to order a sectional patio booth only to discover you don’t have enough space to fit one in after delivery.

Think about the usable space, traffic flow and shape. It’s not only the exact measurement from point A to point B. Smaller furniture is recommended for odd-shaped outdoor areas. A couple of tall bistro tables with outdoor bar stools can accommodate the same number of guests as a large dining table in a small space because bar height tables are more narrow and bar stools take up less room than chairs. Make sure you leave enough space for guests and wait staff to walk around comfortably.

restaurant patio layout

Type and Material Qualities

faux wicker patio furniture

Synthetic Wicker

Lends a traditional, homey feel to your patio. Versatile, waterproof, fade resistant and easy to clean. Resistant to rain, sleet, snow and moisture.

Use hose or pressure washer. Remove cushion (if included) and wash using a sponge with soap. Rinse with cold water.
plastic teak patio furniture

Plastic Teak

Lightweight, eco-friendly, low maintenance, waterproof (if actual wood teak is coated with an exterior grade varnish). Has a beachy/summery look. Plastic teak tends to last longer than wood teak.

Easy to clean with soapy water. Rinse the suds and allow the item to completely dry before use.
aluminum patio furniture


Many include protective powder coating against outdoor elements. Lightweight construction yet durably built. Easy to form and mold. Rust and water resistant. Low maintenance.

Wash with soapy water and rinse. Preserve finish with paint touch-ups to avoid oxidation.
resin patio furniture


Low maintenance, lightweight, and inexpensive. No painting or sealing required. Fire retardant. Won’t easily crack, peel or fade.

Use cleaning agents that specifically prevent mildew and rinse with water.
faux rattan patio furniture

Faux Rattan

Has a slightly rustic, country and coastal vibe. Extremely weather-resistant, lightweight, easy to clean, and recyclable.

Wash with mild detergent, rinse and clean.

Quality, Comfort and Budget Considerations

commercial patio furniture

You want your guests’ outdoor dining experience to be relaxing and the furniture you purchase should ensure that. You can always buy cushions and pillows for additional comfort. The furniture should be made of good quality, fade and moist resistant materials.

Pillows and cushions should be stored when no longer in use. Patio lounge chairs and booths are also great furnishing pieces for relaxing outdoors. If shopping at your local retailer, you should test the quality and comfort level of the furniture before buying them.

Once you’ve determined the furniture you need, comfort level and right materials, you should then decide how much you want or can afford to invest in your patio furniture set. Patio furniture in general commands a higher price tag than indoor pieces as they are designed to withstand environmental stresses and accommodate rougher usage. Materials are stronger, more water repellent and fade resistant than less expensive alternatives. Warranties on the materials and construction are longer and more inclusive.

On the other hand, if you are looking for an inexpensive immediate gratification, there is nothing wrong with buying a low-cost residential patio set. Just know that they are not as long lasting. You might initially save some money but replacement costs will eventually add up and you could end up spending more in the long run.