4 Expert Tips To Choose Patio Bistro Sets

Patio bistro sets can turn almost any unused garden space into a luxurious spot for tea or evening wine. They also add elements of comfort and style to patios and balconies. We've put together this brief guide to help you make the best choice of outdoor bistro set for your home.

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1. What's the best material for my patio bistro set?

Your local weather patterns will have a large influence over the best choice of bistro sets. Not only can weather determine how and when you use your patio set, but they can also affect the lifespan of your chairs and table.

Generally, you won't be sitting out on the patio enjoying tea in pouring rain, but you're also unlikely to have time to pack up your set before every shower. The same can be said for very warm weather, you might think that noonday sun is the perfect setting for coffee or a glass of cold whiskey, but what if the metal on your chair is scorching hot?

If you don't have a good idea of your local weather patterns, it's probably a good idea to do a bit of research prior to purchasing a bistro set. Having this knowledge will help you decide what type of materials would be best for your bistro set.

Wood

Wooden bistro sets offer many options for stylish additions to your patio or garden. Natural wood grains blend well with plant features, tile, carpets, hardwood floors and even modern home designs. Unlike metal bistro sets, wooden ones will very rarely be unusable due to temperature extremes. Wood is naturally a poor conductor of heat, so using your set on a warm day is no issue.

On the other hand, wooden bistro sets can offer the need for additional maintenance over time. Treatments that make wood able to withstand outdoor weather can wear off and require redoing. If you aren't diligent enough, your tables and chairs can become worn out or molded leading to breaks and possible falls.

3 Piece Teak Patio Bistro Set with Cushions
3 Piece Folding Patio Bistro Set in Wood
Patio Bistro Set with Cushions
Dark Wood Patio Bistro Set
Wooden 3 Piece Patio Bistro Set with Oval Seats
Wood Patio Bistro Set in Grey

Wicker

If you're looking for the best of all worlds when it comes to maintenance, comfort and accessibility, wicker bistro sets are probably best. Due to its porous nature, wicker doesn't hold water well, so you won't have to worry too much about wiping off after every shower.

Given that wicker is plant-based (usually bamboo, reed or willow) it is very temperature resistant and won't become very hot even at the peak of noon. Wicker allows breezes to caress all parts of your body equally and flexes evenly, simulating the comfort you would get from cushions, without the possibility of feeling too hot.

Unfortunately, wicker material on chairs does not have the longest lifespan. The material is plant-based and usually paired with a wooden frame, so over time, you can expect to see fraying or breaking of wicker along the edges of the frame.

Wicker 3 Piece Patio Bistro Set with Cushions
Classic Wicker Patio Bistro Set with Cushions
Elegant Wicker Patio Bistro Set with Cushions
Simple Wicker Patio Bistro Set
Modern Wicker Patio Bistro Set with Cushions
Wicker Patio Bistro Set with Table

Metal

Metal bistro sets can be argued to have the best longevity of all the other bistro materials. This is especially the case when your metal bistro set is treated with weatherproof paint or is powder-coated steel.

Powder-coated steel offers a stunning amount of versatility when it comes to design. It is created by melting powdered paint onto steel, creating a layer of protection against rusting, scratching, and staining.

As wonderful as durability is when it comes to your bistro set, metal by itself is normally not that comfortable. On hot days, metal chairs can be too hot to use unless they are placed in a shady area or have cushions for seating.

Simple Metal 3 Piece Patio Bistro Set in Yellow
Simple Metal Patio Bistro Set in Black
Decorative Metal Patio Bistro Set in Black
Decorative Metal Folding Patio Bistro Set in Cream
Classic Metal Patio Bistro Set in Green
Floral Decorative Metal Patio Bistro Set

2. What type of cushion fabric should I go for?

If you've chosen a bistro set with cushions, we strongly recommend going with a weatherproof option. Being outdoors is extremely unhealthy for normal fabrics, weatherproof cushions are reinforced against temperature and humidity fluctuations.

Cushions without this reinforcement will need to be well-tended. You'll find yourself having to pick them up out of the rain every time there's a shower and ensuring they are stored in dry conditions that won't contribute to molding.

Purchasing a bistro set with weatherproof cushions will save you from all of this stress and probably save you some expense as well.

3. How big a patio bistro set should I choose?

It can be a great help to make a shortlist of how you expect to be using your bistro set before setting off to make a purchase. With a list in mind, you'll be able to make precise decisions about things like:

  • How big your table needs to be
  • How many chairs you'll need.

If your main intention is to use your bistro set to have a drink with your other half after a long day at work, you may go for a two-person set. A little table in between your chairs will do to put away your glasses and a bowl of snacks. For a family of four, four chairs with a medium-size square or round table will be enough.

However, if you're considering using your bistro set for having dinners on summer evenings, then having a bigger round center table with a smooth surface is probably ideal. Round tables allow for even use of the table's surface and prevent anyone from feeling left out.

If you plan on entertaining large numbers of people at a time, then a bistro set with six or more chairs is probably in your best interest. In fact, you might be interested in buying more than one set at a time, so you'll be unlikely to run out of seating.

Patio Bistro Set for Four People
Patio Bistro Set for Two in White
Patio Bistro Set for Four People with Bench
Simple Patio Bistro Set for Two
Patio Bistro Set for Six
3 Piece Patio Bistro Set for Two

4. Should I consider maintainability of the bistro set before the purchase?

Longevity isn't determined only by the type and quality of material you choose, but also by how well maintained your bistro set is. Rusting of metal and molding of cushions and wooden frames tends to set in when bistro sets are left uncared for.

When choosing your patio bistro set, you'll want to explore manufacturer recommendations for care, in order to get an idea of how much effort will be involved. Your bistro set is meant to be a relaxing addition to your home, not an additional burden and expense.

Choose a set that requires little maintenance, for example, some sets require only the occasional wiping down in order to stay healthy. Others fare poorly in wet weather, so they'll need to be stored accordingly. Doing this extra bit of research can help you choose a set that doesn't stress you out with the need for excess care.

Lily is a modern designer with great appreciation for sleek architecture, a love for art in its many forms, and a passion for sharing her experience with people. If you’re looking for advice on how to modernize your old-fashioned place or make your new restaurant a visual blast, she’s definitely the one to ask.