If you enjoy spending time out of doors and socializing with friends and family, you will want to create a backyard oasis where everyone can relax in comfort. A bar is a fantastic addition to your patio or gazebo, especially if you do a lot of entertaining, and you will of course need outdoor bar stools to go with it. You will be amazed at the way they enhance and extend the usefulness of your outdoor space.
Use Them Without a Bar
Of course, there are plenty of uses for outdoor bar stools, even if you don’t have a bar. A tall table with bar stools can be used to dress up a deck or patio with modern outdoor furniture, providing a stylish and up-to-date look, or, placed in the shade of a wide tree, they can offer an intimate conversation area.
If you arrange a few outdoor bar stools along a deck railing, it provides instant seating that is attractive and functional, and the stools are always there for extra seating during parties — or just for two people to enjoy an impromptu outdoor meal. An increasingly popular idea nowadays is the creation of outdoor kitchens, which make fresh-air entertaining a whole lot easier and more fun.
Outdoor kitchens come in all shapes and sizes, from the very simple to the very elaborate, but whatever installations you do or don’t have, you must have seating. Outdoor bar stools are the perfect solution, as they take up minimal space and are easy to move around. They are especially necessary if you have a breakfast bar in your kitchen.
Use Them With a Bar
If you do actually have an outdoor bar, or are planning to get one, you will find it a wonderful option for open-air entertaining, providing a natural gathering area to which everyone will gravitate. You can have a bar built in, or buy a portable bar, which may come as a complete set with bar stools.
However, if it doesn’t, and you buy the bar stools separately, you obviously need to make sure they are the right height for the bar, so you must measure the bar before shopping for the stools. Outdoor bar stools actually come in several different heights, with the most common being counter height (24-27 inches) and bar height (29-33 inches).
You can also find tall and extra tall outdoor bar stools. To make sure you have the right height of stool for the bar, you need to measure both the distance from the underside of the bar to the ground, and the distance from the top of the bar to the ground — these two measurements will give you the stool height you require.
You should allow 10-12 inches from the seat of the stool to the top of the bar, to provide sufficient legroom, and ensure the bar is a convenient height for eating (and drinking, of course). If you are buying your outdoor bar stools for casual seating, or to use with a table, the height is less of an issue.
What is very important, of course, is the material. Obviously, the main difference between indoor and outdoor bar stools is that those for outdoors are exposed to the elements, and need to be of more durable material, which is resistant to damp and corrosion. Among the most popular materials are metal, especially wrought iron and aluminum, wood, wicker and bamboo.
Outdoor metal bar stools are the most popular as they are especially durable. Wrought iron stools, as well as looking extremely elegant, are obviously very sturdy, and most unlikely to be blown over by strong winds. They cost more than aluminum ones, but aluminum outdoor bar stools are very serviceable, and are not liable to rust like wrought iron. They are often powder coated for extra durability.
Also popular are wooden outdoor bar stools, which can be made from various types of softwood, such as cherry, maple, pine or oak, or from hardwood such as teak or eucalyptus. They come in a wide variety of styles, from very modern outdoor bar stools, to very rustic looking.
In fact, some have a slice of tree-trunk as a seat, for the ultimate rustic look, which unfortunately is not very comfortable. Wooden outdoor bar stools usually need an extra sealant coating for weather protection.
Teak outdoor bar stools in particular are often chosen for their rustic charm. If you are entertaining in your back yard, or around the pool or other activity area you need something that stands up to some rough usage, and teak stools fill the bill very well — any dents and scratches simply add to the rustic appeal.
Alternatively, for a small urban setting like a roof garden or an apartment balcony, sleek modern outdoor bar stools in teak fit in very well — a teak patio table plus two bar stools should fit into even a small balcony. You may fancy giving your outdoor area a tropical look by using rattan garden furniture, and rattan or wicker outdoor bar stools will complement this very well.
Wicker, especially synthetic wicker, is strong and sturdy enough to withstand all types of weather, and outdoor wicker bar stools will last for many years, as well as being convenient and easy to move around. You can of course also achieve the tropical island look with bamboo, and this is also very popular for outdoor bar stools.
Points to Consider
As well as the height and material, there are several other things you need to think about when buying outdoor bar stools. Obviously comfort is one consideration, and it is possible to buy stools with padded seats.
However, this may not be altogether a good idea. With being outdoors they are more likely to look worn and dingy more quickly, and by their very nature, bar stools get stuff spilled on them.
You can always use cushions to make them more comfortable. The major decisions you have to make concern the style of bar stool to choose. There are so many options.
For instance, should you get backless bar stools, or stools with backs and arms? If you think your visitors are likely to spend most of their time leaning on the bar, backless stools may be fine — they are a simpler construction with a clean design, and much easier to store.
However, if your stools are more for relaxation, and people will be sitting on them for longer stretches, rather than just for a drink, you will want them to be more comfortable, and have at least a back, with or without arms.
They can also come with a footrest for extra comfort — especially with tall outdoor bar stools, it can be uncomfortable for people to have their feet dangling down. It all depends how long you expect your visitors to be sitting on them.
One of the most popular choices will be outdoor swivel bar stools. These are great for sociability, as they make it so easy to turn round to talk to other people, even those behind you, and then swing back to finish your drink, or get another.
Another big plus is that many outdoor swivel bar stools can be adjusted for height, so they are much more versatile. However, the advice from those with experience is not to go for outdoor swivel bar stools if you plan on entertaining a lot of families with children.
Kids just can’t resist swinging backwards and forwards nonstop — not only can this be dangerous, but it means more frequent breakages. For some people, another downside of swivel outdoor bar stools will be the cost — generally, they are the most expensive type of bar stool, most ranging from over $600 to well over $1,000.
Cheap Doesn’t Mean Low Quality
If these prices are a bit beyond your budget, it’s not difficult to shop for cheap outdoor bar stools. This certainly does not have to mean settling for low quality. There are plenty of places where you can find bar stools which will enhance your outdoor space, and will not break the bank.
One excellent possibility is to look out for hotel and restaurant liquidation sales, where you can find some top quality products at knockdown prices. Apart from this, however, there are plenty of retailers who sell perfectly good outdoor bar stools at affordable prices.
If you are looking for the ultimate touch to make your gazebo, patio or outdoor space complete, outdoor bar stools may be exactly what you need. They are durable, beautiful and incredibly versatile, and will meet your requirements for anything from an intimate dinner for two, to a long summer of festivities for all comers. Outdoor bar stools provide the perfect garden seating solution, and can fulfill your needs as no other garden furniture can do.
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