Meta description: An in-depth guide to choosing the perfect dining chair, including factors like comfort, style, size, materials and more. Learn how to select durable, stylish chairs that suit your needs.
Choosing dining chairs for your home is an important decision that requires careful thought and consideration. The right chairs can pull together your dining space, providing both visual appeal and comfort for you and your guests during meals. Follow this comprehensive guide to become a savvy shopper when selecting dining chairs.
Determine Your Needs
Before beginning your dining chair search, take time to assess your needs and preferences:
One of the most important factors is comfort. Consider who will be using the chairs most frequently and what their needs are in terms of:
- Seat height: Standard seat heights range from 17-19 inches, but taller or shorter heights may be needed to accommodate different body types. Measure the ideal seat height for the main users.
- Seat depth: Look for chairs with seat depths (from front edge to backrest) of at least 16 inches for comfort. Seat depth should allow 2-3 inches between the back of the knees and chair edge.
- Seat width: Measure across your dining table to determine ideal chair width. Leave at least 24 inches for each diner.
- Lumbar support: Chairs with contoured backrests or lumbar pads provide important back support.
- Armrests: Determine if armrests are needed for comfort, leverage when sitting down or extra support.
- Cushions: Well-padded cushions enhance comfort, as do contoured seats shaped to the body.
Consider the size of your dining table and room layout to determine ideal chair proportions. Measure your table diameter or length/width. Standard dining chair dimensions include:
- Width: 18-24 inches wide
- Depth: 20-26 inches deep
- Height: 33-38 inches high
Scale chairs appropriately – smaller chairs suit compact tables, while larger chairs complement substantial tables. Allow adequate clearance around chairs when tucked under the table.
Select chairs that match your existing decor and dining table style. Key elements that define the style include:
- Legs: Straight, tapered, square, curved or sled-style legs
- Backrest: High-backed, low-backed, slatted, solid, curved or straight
- Arms: With or without arms, wood or upholstered
- Upholstery: Leather, fabric, vinyl, or wood seat
- Frame: Wood, metal, plastic
- Color and finish: Stained, painted, natural, distressed or polished look
Measure the height from floor to bottom edge of your table apron or top to determine compatible chair styles.
Number of Chairs
Consider how many chairs you need to seat around your table comfortably. Standard dining tables accommodate 4-6 chairs for intimate gathering or 8-10 chairs for larger parties. Allow 24-30 inches per seat.
Quality dining chairs range widely in price from $50 per chair on the low end to $500+ on the high end. Set a realistic budget and look for sales to maximize value. Less expensive chairs may need replacement sooner.
Evaluate Different Materials
Dining chair materials significantly influence the look, feel, durability and cost. Consider which materials best suit your lifestyle and needs:
Wood types like oak, maple, walnut or mahogany provide a classic, warm look. Pros include natural beauty and artisan appeal. Cons are that solid wood chairs tend to be heavier and more expensive, and the finish may show scratches or wear over time. Plywood or compressed wood options offer greater durability.
From sleek chrome to decorative wrought iron, metal chairs lend an airy, modern feel with slender silhouettes. Stainless steel and aluminum are lightweight, while wrought iron has an heirloom look but is quite heavy. Metal chairs can be noisy when moving and may not be as padded.
Plastic or acrylic chairs provide a casual, streamlined look that’s lightweight, stackable and often weatherproof. Clear acrylic has a fun, contemporary vibe. While budget-friendly, plastic may appear less refined. Look for thicker, molded styles for enhanced durability.
From leather to microfiber, upholstered chairs provide luxe softness and sophistication. Natural fabrics like cotton and linen offer breathability, while performance fabrics like polyester resist stains. Upholstery quality, seamwork and cushioning impact comfort and durability.
Many modern dining chairs combine materials, like plywood frames with padded upholstered seating or stainless steel legs with wood seats. Combinations blend the best of each material for stylish and functional results.
Beyond materials, several other features affect functionality and design. Assess useful qualities like:
Sturdy dining chairs reduce wobbling thanks to wide, flared legs and joints reinforced with corner blocks or metal braces. Thicker materials also enhance stability. Avoid ornate chairs with many curved unsupported joints.
Chairs with straight legs and unembellished frames can stack for convenient storage. Stackable models work well for smaller dining areas or as extra seating. Look for added glides under the legs to prevent scratching.
Contoured armrests that extend the full width of the backrest enhance comfort while also providing leverage when sitting down and extra support. Armrests can be padded or wood.
Well-padded cushions improve comfort, as does high density foam that regains shape. Detachable cushions allow for cleaning. Tightly upholstered seat decks also offer support. Avoid loose cushions.
Casters or Glides
Casters give freedom of movement but may damage floors. Glides (also called pads) protect floors. Felt glides work on any surface but require replacement over time. Plastic slides better on hard floors while rubber prevents slips on stone or tile.
Some chairs provide extra storage like racks beneath seats to hold books or bags to maximize space.
Examine chairs carefully prior to purchase to evaluate construction quality. Look for:
- Attached seat backs rather than loose backrests for stability
- Corner blocks for joint strength
- Reinforced joinery with dowels, screws or corner blocks
- Smooth edges and proper fit with no gaps
- Durable, easy-clean fabrics that resist stains
- Comfortable, high-density cushions that regain shape
- Proper upholstery with taut fabric and sturdy stitching
- Finished seats and backs – no exposed staples or seams
- Color consistency with no variation between chairs
- Level chairs with evenly aligned tops
- Sturdy frames that feel substantial and made to last
High standards of craftsmanship and construction will ensure your dining chairs stand the test of family meals and entertaining over many years.
Follow these tips for successful dining chair purchases:
- Measure carefully before shopping for scale
- Inspect chairs in person before purchase whenever possible
- Sit in display models to test comfort and stability
- Read consumer reviews about quality and durability
- Look for solid wood frames and corner blocking for strength
- Test cushions for proper thickness and support
- Evaluate chair height in relation to your table style
- Feel under upholstery for proper padding
- Check fabric durability and cleanability
- Examine finish details and consistency
- Assess floor protection needs based on chair materials
- Envision how the chairs will complement your room’s decor
- Set up chairs at home to confirm they work with the table before removing tags
Where to Buy
Quality dining chairs are available from:
- Local furniture stores: Test chairs in person
- Department stores: Affordable prices on mass-market brands
- Furniture chains: Large selections with delivery services
- Specialty stores: Unique antique or designer chairs
- Discount retailers: Budget-friendly chairs, often sold in boxed sets
- Online retailers: Order right to your door, many with free shipping and returns
- Used furniture stores: Discover secondhand gems at reduced prices
Search sales around holidays for best discounts on dining chairs at retailers.
There are endless dining chair styles to match any dining space. Here are some go-to looks:
- Iconic simple square-back design with straight legs
- Upholstered seat and backrest
- Sleek, versatile option good for compact spaces
- Slatted backrest forms ladder shape
- Airy comfort with flexible support
- Distressed finish creates farmhouse appeal
- Classic armchair adapted as dining chair
- Deep wing-shaped backrest and sides
- Elegant traditional vibe perfect for head of table
roller sled base with pliable molded seat provides comfort and allows for movement, while acrylic or metal legs have airy, see-through appeal.
Choosing a Set vs Mix & Match
Most retailers offer dining chairs in sets of 4, 6 or 8 matching chairs. Buying a set ensures:
- Consistent style and appearance
- Streamlined purchasing
- Bulk discounts
But mixing different chairs allows you to:
- Accentuate your personal style
- Reinvent chairs you already own
- Purchase higher end chairs over time
- Add visual interest through contrast
If opting for a mix, ensure varied chairs complement each other through:
- Similar heights
- Aligned silhouettes and backs
- Coordinating colors and materials
- Shared design elements like legs
Quality Brands to Consider
Reputable dining chair brands known for quality craftsmanship include:
- Hanover: Timeless silhouettes crafted from durable materials
- Poly & Bark: Modern, sculptural designs at accessible price points
- Christopher Knight Home: Casual, contemporary styles with plush cushions
- Safavieh: Elegant, globally inspired looks drawing on antique influences
- Modway: Affordable, trend-driven styles with an emphasis on sleek profiles
- Nathan James: Simple Scandanavian and mid-century inspired chairs
- Baxton Studio: Budget-friendly chairs leaning minimalist and industrial
- Flash Furniture: Wide range of task chairs and bar stools complementing dining chairs
- Winsome: Compact, space-saving styles perfect for small dining spaces
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about dining chairs:
How much do dining chairs cost?
Dining chairs range from $50 on the very low end for basic plastic or metal chairs to over $1,000 for high-end designer chairs made with fine materials. Expect to spend $75-$300 per chair for good quality.
How can I make cheap chairs more comfortable?
For basic chairs, add seat cushions to provide padding and lumbar support. Select cushions at least 2 inches thick with a firm high-density foam core.
What is the most comfortable dining chair?
Look for chairs with contoured seats, generous padding, lumbar support, and armrests for optimal comfort. Materials with some flex or give like wood, cane or rattan also enhance comfort.
How do I choose a dining chair style?
Consider your dining table style and surrounding room decor. Matching chairs have a streamlined look, while contrasting chairs can make a statement. Ensure the seat height fits your table.
How long do dining chairs last?
With proper care, high-quality hardwood dining chairs can last 15-20 years or more. Lower quality chairs may need replacement after 4-5 years. Protect chairs from direct sun which can fade fabric.
What is the standard dining chair height?
Standard dining chair heights range between 33-38 inches. Measure from the floor to the underside of your dining table to determine the ideal chair height for pairing.
How do I protect dining chair legs on floors?
Attach felt pads or rubber caps to the bottom of chair legs to avoid scratches. These also allow chairs to slide more easily. If chairs have casters, use soft rubber wheels.
Finding dining chairs that offer both style and functionality requires careful selection. Focus first on comfort features and durable construction. Then choose chairs with proportions and design elements that make sense for your dining space. Test chairs prior to purchase when possible, and invest in quality materials built to stand the test of time and frequent use. With the tips from this guide, you’ll be ready to shop savvily for dining chairs that check all the boxes.