One of the hardest pieces of furniture to shop are picnic tables.
You need to choose a product that can accommodate kids and adults (if you have small children at home) at the same time.
The table should also be weatherproof if it’s intended to stay outdoors the entire time.
Related: Space Saving Dining Tables
Five Manufactured Home Backyard Picnic Tables Shopping Factors
Here are the factors to consider when shopping for a picnic table:
- Amount of Room
- Shape, Size, & Configuration
- Added Comfort & Other Perks
- Cost v/s Budget
Perhaps the most important factor to consider is the kind of material used to make the table.
Most of the options you will find in the store are made from
- plastic- and powder-coated metal
- HDPE lumber
- and even concrete products.
When selecting a table based on the material of construction, you will need to factor in several variables:
Whichever material you choose, you want it to be easier to maintain in terms of ease of cleaning and whether it can simply be wiped with a piece of cloth before use
Remember the picnic table will be used outdoors and sometimes left there overnight or even permanently. For that reason, make sure you choose a product that can take the insults of nature and still deliver the service you need, longer!
The aesthetic value of your picnic table is everything. You want a product that will look great in your beautiful backyard or patio.
How luxurious and comfortable do you want your table to be? The table should be comfortable to use for both kids and tall adults, with spacious legroom left beneath
What’s the cost of the picnic table of your liking? How much money are you willing to spend on a unit or several of them?
Food particles and drinks will spill on your table all the time.
Factor in the ability of the surface to resist the damage inflicted by spills and other harsh chemicals (if you will be wiping your table with some washing chemicals)
If you will be moving the picnic table in and out of the house whenever you need it, then consider the weight factor.
Pine and Similar Softwoods
Pine and similar softwoods are a popular choice for constructing picnic tables.
There are two reasons for that –
- softwoods are inexpensive
- and abundant.
However, they are not a great choice if you intend to keep the table outdoors because they are vulnerable to moisture and heat.
Softwoods — Things to Consider
- Softwoods aren’t very durable or resilient, they are easily dented or scratched, which can end up impacting the looks of the product
- Softwoods must be protected and varnished if they are going to stay outdoors — even then, nature will quickly change how good your picnic table looks. You could end up with something grubby-looking pretty fast
- Hot cups and plates, and drinks and food spills can all affect the surface appearance of the softwood
- Your softwood table will typically require re-varnishing or re-staining on a regular basis
- Softwoods are the most inexpensive wood choice you could ever make as far as picnic tables are concerned
Oak and Similar Hardwoods
Hardwoods are the best choice compared to softwoods if you are looking for a well-crafted, durable picnic table.
They come with a few flaws though.
Just like softwoods, hardwoods still require regular maintenance to retain their nice looks.
Hardwoods — Things to Consider
- Hardwoods need to be protected and varnished if you intend to permanently install them outdoors
- Hardwoods are quite durable and resilient compared to softwoods, and they are also hard to dent, scratch, or damage
- Hot plates and cups, and food and drink spills can all ruin the surface of the hardwood in the long run
- Hardwood picnic tables are more resilient to some elements of nature including strong gusts of wind
- Hardwood products are normally heavy and quite hard to move around
- A hardwood picnic table will typically require re-staining or re-varnishing once in a while
- Hardwoods are quite expensive, so be ready to part with more dollars for one compared to if you had gone for a softwood
Teak deserves a special mention because it is the most popular type of wood used in outdoor furniture.
It is used widely in picnic tables, benches, there’s no exception!
If you are thinking pine, wicker, or bamboo, you can easily opt for teak if those options don’t meet your requirements.
Teak — Things to Consider
- It is impressively resistant to water damage, wind, and rust, meaning it can stay outdoors all-year-round with minimal care
- Teak is resilient and durable because it generates its own oil — it is considered to be a hardwood, so is not easy to scratch or dent
- Teak is considerably pricy, making it one of the most expensive wood options out there for a picnic table
- Hot plates cups and plates, and drink and food spills can all affect the appearance of the surface of your teak picnic table in the long run
- It is fairly high maintenance as it must be treated and rubbed a few times a year to prevent “silver patina”
- It is only available in a one “color” option, teak
It is a durable and impressively lightweight metal. It can be a second fiddle if you wanted a wooden product but you aren’t willing to put in the care and maintenance efforts.
Aluminum — Things to Consider
- Your aluminum picnic table be installed outdoors and stay there all-year-round without destruction
- Aluminum is resilient, tough, and easy to care for and maintain
- The surface of your aluminum picnic table won’t be ruined by drink and food stains
- The lightweight construction means the product can be a bit vulnerable to strong gusts of wind
- It is very durable and 100% resistant to rust and water
Powder- and Plastic-Coated Metal
Another popular material option is a metal that has been coated in either powder or plastic layers often fused into the paint. Tables made from such metals often come in many different colors:
Things to consider
- It is completely resistant to water, wind, and rust meaning such tables can be left to stay outdoors all year-round
- Coated metal is resilient, durable, and seldom dents, and also won’t scratch easily
- The tabletop and seats are normally made from different materials, so you will need to bear in mind this feature
- Drinks and k won’t easily ruin the surface of your coated metal table. Also, you will be free to use chemicals to wash it
HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) Lumber
A synthetic resin, HDPE is treasured for its stiffness and toughness.
It is used for constructing solid, durable, and high-quality, outdoor furniture. Its high cost is typically offset by the comfort, luxury, and resilience it offers.
It is one of the best materials for a stylish all-outdoor picnic table.
HDPE Lumber — Things to Consider
- The best things about HDPE is its medium weight, sturdiness, and resistance to even the strongest winds that could ever strike. It is the perfect picnic table for all-outdoor all-year application
- It is easier to maintain than wood and some metals, needing just a simple cloth with mild dish soap and a water
- HDPE is very durable and highly resistant to, rust, wind, and water
- The surface of the lumber is largely unaffected by heat and, food and drink spills
- HDPE products are usually comfortable, luxurious, and stylish with a strong, high-quality, and sturdy construction
- It is an infinitely recyclable material and is often prepared from recycled plastics, more so milk jugs
- Typically manufactured to last forever and its high price does reflect this factor
- Available in many different colors
If you are looking for the perfect material for a picnic table, we’d recommend HDPE lumber — not only is it made to last forever, but also stays looking great and completely weatherproof.
Besides this impressive durability, you will benefit immensely from its low maintenance attribute, meaning you can completely forget about it and still find it in good usable conditions after years of neglect.
2. Amount of Room
Picnic tables can eat up a large amount of space in your backyard or deck.
Most of them come with integrated/attached seating, so you’ll need plenty of space to move your legs and even stand or walk around the seats more comfortably.
Figure out where you’re going to install the table —on your patio or lawn, on the deck, etc.
- Start by grabbing your tape and measuring the intended space. Mark the size and positions the table will occupy
- Bear in mind the extra space around and below the table to permit people to walk around easily and have enough legroom
- Consider various dimensions and shapes of picnic tables. Choose one type that perfectly meets your seating and space requirements.
3. Shape, Size, & Configuration
Pick the right size, shape, and configuration. Think about the kind of picnic experience your family wants to have and the total number of people that will sit at the table.
Although the conventional, rectangular picnic table featuring bench seating is the most popular type, there are many other options including octagonal, round, and those with curved corners.
The size of the dining table needs to match the number of users. It is always good to overestimate a little.
If you are going to be hosting or entertaining many people, you will need to make the picnic table the focal point for most of the informal gatherings and meals. In other words, buy a table that can accommodate slightly more people than anticipated.
Form and Function — Things to Consider
- Factor in how the picnic table will work wherever you wish to install it. Will it integrate flawlessly with the environment?
- Also, make up your mind whether you want the seating to be integrated/attached to the rest of the table (the traditional style), or if they should be separate.
- If you are planning to install a deck/patio umbrella, buy a picnic table that comes with a central hole or one that can support one.
- If you have small children and you want a quite lower table that can permit them to get in chairs and get out, go for a table that supports such.
The Shape and Size Factors
Picnic tables are normally linear and rectangular and designed to seat a maximum of eight people. However, many different styles and shapes are starting to be popular:
Rectangular is the default shape when it comes to picnic tables – most of the tables you will find at the dealer’s store are rectangular in shape.
A typical rectangular picnic table can seat four, six, or a maximum of eight people. It is perfect for large parties.
The Charming Bench Company makes some impressive rectangular picnic tables, like this:
Square-shaped tables are more intimate. If you are looking for the perfect shape for a quiet and formal evening picnic or dinner that permits you to look into each other’s faces, then a square table would be the best choice.
Yet another product from The Charming Bench Company:
Circular tables are more practical and fun if your backyard or deck doesn’t have enough space for larger rectangular tables. They are perfect for a few people who just want to have a drink over a card or board game. Similarly, there are hexagonal and octagonal picnic tables.
While the shape of the picnic table is important, size is a much more important factor to consider.
Take into consideration the size of free space left for movement and legroom.
Measure everything just to ensure you get your priorities right.
Here are size examples:
This is probably the largest you could go. Size 72″ picnic tables can seat eight adults and still accommodate your patio umbrella.
Picnic tables around this size can comfortably seat six or eight people depending on the shape.
If you go for the octagonal variety, you could entertain 8 people; a rectangular sort would accommodate less, about 6 users.
Tables around this size can accommodate about 4 people. They are ideal for your deck or patio.
If you are going for the rectangular variety, you can ensure it’s 33″ x 72″ so that more users are supported.
Size 33″ is perfect if you don’t want to integrate the table with seats. Also, because they are smaller, they are perfect for your patio or deck.
Below 33″ – Kids Picnic Table
This is the smallest (also the cutest) you could go.
If the table is strictly intended for kids, ensure they are decorated with many different colors and a few cartoons – just the way kids want things to be!
4. Added Comfort & Other Perks
A simple picnic table may just serve the function of dining. But that is how things were back then. Today, furniture designers are innovative to make the overall experience more comfortable and fun for users.
Also, there are those that feature detachable canopies.
Some designs come with removable planks in the middle to allow you to cool your drinks in a pool of ice.
While the main purpose of an evening picnic is to forget technology and gadgets for a while, there are picnic table designs with built-in power outlets to keep your phone or laptop charging during the entire moment.
5. Cost v/s Budget
The prices of picnic tables mostly depend on the material of construction. Those with added properties that make them exceptionally resistant to weather can be a little costly.
The average range of a metal-based picnic table, whether you are going for aluminum or stainless steel, is 125 and $210. The density of the material can have an influence on the price.
Hardwood options are the cheapest of wood-based tables while softwood options are expensive. A decent softwood table can have a price tag in the region of $150 while you can get a decent hardwood table at about $90.
The trick is to decide the maximum amount of money you are willing to spend on a picnic table. Thereafter, prepare a budget for several units of your favorite material, size, color, and other features.
- If you want to choose a picnic table that can work for you, the first and most important factor to consider is the material of construction.
- Materials determine various attributes of the table, including their weatherproofing properties.
- Also bear in mind the amount of room intended for the table, whether you intend them for outdoors or indoors.
- The shape, size, and configuration of the table are equally important.
- Added comfort and similar perks will be integral to helping you get the best experience.