It’s a good question… Can you put garden tables and chairs on gravel?
We talk a lot on this blog about stone chips on the feet of chairs and tables. Why you should prevent them, how to prevent them, etc.
A few months back we also looked at how to safely put garden furniture on your lawn in our can garden furniture go on grass article.
Somebody emailed in response to that article asking if they can put our furniture on gravel, so we wanted to look at that in a little more detail.
The first thing we must stress is that our full Metal Garden Furniture range comes supplied with plastic screw-in feet to not only protect them from rough surfaces such as gravel but also give a little adjustability on uneven surfaces.
The advantages of gravel
It’s a popular surface material in the UK. It is low-cost and can be used for paths, patios, driveways, or as a base for laying paving stones and/or filling in around them.
The big advantage of gravel over many of the other types of patio materials, be it decking or stone paving it that is quick and easy to install. No DIY skills are needed. Put it down and spread/level it with a rake.
However, whilst it is relatively low cost and quick/easy to lay, it also does a great job of preventing weeds and soil erosion and is excellent for improving drainage.
Personally, I see gravel as more of a temporary patio solution or a material used ‘off patio’ to create interest. And by that, I mean using it to create a feature area around the garden or to define borders, etc.
Somewhere you can sit on a garden bench, bistro set, planter, sculpture or water feature. Not a daily regular used patio but used in the right way it is great for making a design feature, adding interest.
Another great use for gravel is in creating a barrier and or defining/separating surfaces, improving borders around planting, for example.
Placing a small strip between a lawn and a paved patio is another great way of improving drainage, framing the lawn and keeping pests off your lawn. Rodents for one will often avoid walking on gravel.
The disadvantages of gravel
Of course, there’s a flip side to those pros, and despite its popularity, gravel does have its fair share of disadvantages, which is why I only tend to use it as an accent/feature material.
Patios are there to be used, walked on, and lived on. As a surface material, it is best avoided in bare feet. In fact, it’s not that nice to walk on in shoes.
It is also easily kicked about and displaced. You will find yourself constantly raking it flat and picking up pieces from your lawn or whatever and throwing them back.
And then onto the real matter in hand here… Garden Furniture!
Can you put garden tables and chairs on gravel?
Be it timber, plastic or metal - gravel isn’t always the best surface for putting an expensive patio set.
It can scratch and damage the feet, when you sit on it, it will sink in, and move about, no-mater how tightly you try and compact the gravel.
It just isn’t a surface that is conducive to using garden tables and chairs. Even with our plastic screw-in feet, the nature of the material means your furniture legs will still dig in.
But the main problem is that any scratching or chipping to the feet of metal, plastic, rattan or timber garden chairs and tables can lead to bigger problems such as scratches/gouges, rust or rot.
The metal we use for our furniture also has a protective coating to further protect it from the elements, but if that gets compromised, moisture can find a way in, and then you could have problems.
Even plastic, whilst it won’t compromise the material in the same way, it is soft/malleable, so even the smoothest gravel will often gouge, shred and score the feet.
Take our Cast Aluminium Garden Chairs though, they are protected by a painted metal coating. It is pretty tough stuff but gravel ‘could’ chip it.
It is very unlikely, as most gravel supplied in the UK is what we call pea-gravel. The individual pieces are small, round and smooth to the touch.
However, it pays to be vigilant.
Of course, if you are just using the gravel and seating as a feature area, popular with our garden benches, then it’s not too much of an issue.
Just keep an eye on the feet. If need be touch them up with our Touch Up Kits as shown in the video above.
And remember that prevention is better than cure…
How to prevent gravel from damaging garden tables and chairs
Of course, the easy way to prevent any damage or sinking is to use another material.
If cost is the reason for choosing gravel, then pair it with a couple of pavers or decking panels where you want to place the seating. Not only will it solve the problem, but mixing materials can make a real statement if done right.
If it’s gravel you want, and many do, or you see it as a temporary solution but still want to sit on it, then there are a few ‘hacks’ you can adopt too.
The first option is the rubber feet/furniture caps as shown above from NUOLUX on amazon.co.uk. They were devised to protect expensive timber flooring from the scarping of dining chairs as they’re pulled in and out.
However, they work just as well outside the home.
Not just gravel I may add too. On stone pavers, tiling or timber decking they’ll provide a little extra protection to both your garden tables and chairs and the surface material you have on your patio.
If you are placing a garden bench on a gravel area, maybe as a feature as we discussed earlier, then you can fake it. The bench won’t need to be moved like you would a garden dining chair.
You can place a more stable material such as an old paving slab underneath the gravel. Pop the garden bench's feet on that, and then spread the gravel around and over it.
However, when it comes to a garden dining set on gravel, option one is the route to go down. You need to be able to pull the chairs out. Of course, they’ll move out easier on a decked, stone or tiled surface, and it won’t prevent sinking but it will best protect them.