Picnic tables and benches for your garden are sensible investments that will bring benefits foreseen and unforeseen.
They will, of course, be much appreciated during your outdoor barbecue dinners. But on sunny summer days, the kids too will appreciate these tables for lunches in the garden!
Picnic tables or garden tables are broadly divided by materials and shape. Most are made of wood, as they have been traditionally, but an increasing number are made of metals or synthetic materials. These tables are in the main utilitarian and functional, and their primary draw is affordability as they are much cheaper than wooden tables.
Undoubtedly wooden tables are not only utilitarian, unlike tables made of other materials, they are also pretty or charming in their own right and can even be classed as garden decor.
With respect to shape, garden tables are either circular or rectangular. Circular tables make for a more personal or intimate effect as everyone – up to eight persons – are virtually face-to-face. In addition, you can play board games and card games on a round table as four persons would be seated cross-wise which you cannot on a rectangular table with side-by-side seating. On the other hand, a rectangular table is more conducive to traditional feasting and celebrating – think platters of venison and jugs of ale – and the more so because rectangular tables can be laid end to end to improvise a long ‘outdoor banquet table’ that could theoretically seat a hundred.
No matter what the shape or material, there are a few telltale signs of quality that you need to be on the lookout for. Do any nuts or bolts protrude from a bench where they could catch and tear someone’s trousers or skirt? Do they protrude from the base near a side of the table where someone could injure a finger while moving the table-and-bench combo? If the table is of metal, is it well machined and finished or does it have sharp edges that could open a cut? If it is made of wood, is it well sanded and finished or could one of your guests get a painful splinter in a finger?
Apart from shape and material, your primary considerations may be weight, bulk, and – of course – cost. Underneath we go through a good mix of garden tables comprising four wooden tables and one metal-plastic table, of which three are rectangular and two are circular. And they have even more ‘variety’ in price because the most expensive table is several times more expensive than the cheapest one.
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You’ll have no trouble selecting the table that’s right for your garden. Indeed, you could even choose two of these fine products, one for the garden and one for the back patio.
Westmount Living’s simple table-and-bench is one of the strongest and sturdiest and is superbly finished yet this excellent set is so low-priced.
Westmount Living’s rectangular picnic table and benches are made of pressure-treated softwood timber. It has a natural, that is unstained, finish, pale brown in colour. Westmount Living specifies that this garden set not be given any treatment for about six months but after that time period it may be coated with a wood oil or painted over.
The table measures 150 x 70 centimetres and it is 70 centimetres high and the benches are 150 x 25.5 centimetres. This set seats four very comfortably but up to six can be seated without undue discomfort. The total weight is 43 kilogrammes. The table has a hole in the centre where you can drop in a parasol.
The overall design is simplicity itself. However, the wood is smooth and well sanded and the table’s and benches’ edges are even chamfered. The seats are made of three planks of timber. Now and then you’ll find a set with some rough edges on a couple of timbers or the benches will seem to be oozing a gooey green substance.
Westmount Living’s table-and-bench set is one of the strongest, sturdiest ones you can buy. In a nutshell, it looks like quality, feels like quality, and is quality.
The table and benches are delivered partially assembled but some assembly is still required. A set of fasteners is included. The pre-drilled holes are a little hit-or-miss so you may well require a drill. An experienced handyman may well be able to put this together by his lonesome self but novice DIYers will almost surely need a helper.
The quality of this popular six-seater garden table is undoubtedly far above average but its price is decidedly ‘average;’ as a result we must recognise that, apart from being our Best Pick, Westmount Living’s picnic bench is also a wonderful value for money.
Westmount provides a 15-year warranty against rot but, more importantly, this company provides top-notch after-sales service.
- Simple and straightforward it may be, but it is also wonderfully well-finished.
- From one end to the other and from textured tabletop to angled foot, this kit says, ‘Quality.’
- For the size, materials, and construction, this set is priced very low and is a real value.
- Now and then a unit will come with a piece or two that requires drilling.
- Occasionally a set will have a greenish goo oozing from a couple of timbers.
Foldaway and portable but as strong as an ox, Gr8’s ultra-cheap ‘garden table’ is more than just that; use it for playtime, crafts, and display too.
The only truly portable garden table featured in this set of reviews, Gr8’s foldaway version is a trestle-type table that measures 183 x 76 centimetres and stands 72 centimetres. It even sports a suitcase-style carry handle and at a mere 13 kilogrammes it is not difficult to carry it by this handle. The tabletop is made of hard plastic and the legs and supports are made of steel, with rubber caps on the feet.
This table accommodates six comfortably and eight not-so-comfortably, four on each side. Seating an extra two guests at the ends would not go down well because the table’s legs and their braces leave next to no legroom (at the ends). It can be used not only as a garden or picnic table for sit-down meals, it is an excellent choice to put up next to your outdoor grill for a barbecue buffet. In fact, this folding table is quite versatile: you can make arts and crafts and then display them at the county fair on this one and the same portable table.
Gr8’s table’s ‘drop-lock hinges’ ensure the table will not unexpectedly fold or collapse. On this issue quality control is dicey because some units have this drop-lock on only one side, making the table stand up less ‘tight’ and introducing a bit of wobble. The design and fittings are impressive, though, because as you open the legs and set the table upright, metal rings slide down and lock the struts in place. Similarly, when the table is folded the leaves are held in place by a plastic clip. On some units this clip is loose, on others it is fragile. However, the table itself is seriously strong, supporting greater weight than one would expect, and is durable too.
No assembly is required but some folks get into a dither when trying to open it for the first time! Don’t let the lever-lock fool you; it is meant to lock the leaves after the table is fully opened.
Dodgy suppliers occasionally send an item that is not only not new, it is grubby and stained, or dented and dinged.
This very convenient and well-designed portable table can be bought with the money in your back pocket. At the price it’s a can’t-miss bargain 365 days of the year and wins our Value Pick spot.
- Folding in half and with a carry handle, this lightweight table is truly portable.
- Belying its slim-line looks the table is incredibly strong and can support oddly heavy weight.
- It is so very cheap that, in view of its quality and features, it’s an ‘out there’ value buy.
- Some tables come with the drop-lock on one side only.
- The closure plastic clip is flimsy and on some tables it is loose.
‘Rustic’ in more ways than only its hue, the ‘Yews’ picnic table is rock solid, thoughtfully made, and radiates the charm of a tavern in old Europe.
Arbor Garden makes its ‘Yews’ garden picnic table and benches in widths of 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 feet in a choice of ‘Rustic Brown’ or ‘Light Green’ (which is more of a pale greenish-brown). The Rustic Brown is a rich shade of oak bark.
We have selected the intermediate 6-foot (183 centimetres) size in the popular Rustic Brown colour. The table’s depth is 72 centimetres and height is 73 centimetres. The benches’ depth and height are 26.5 and 46 centimetres respectively. Table and benches tip the scales at 63 kilogrammes.
This set is made of Scandinavian pine that has been pressure-treated to guard against fungal rot for 15 years. Tables and benches have rounded corners, smooth edges, and no rough spots. The table has a parasol hole in the centre. The design is such that the benches can be tucked under the table to save space if you put this set in storage.
The standout attribute is all round solidity and sturdiness. The bolts’ heads are capped with plastic. Small touches like these signify a thoughtful design and high-end product but without the high-end price.
Putting together the ‘Yews’ set is not difficult but no assembly instructions are supplied with the set. However, be sure to check your inbox because the supplier emails them a day before delivery! You’ll need a spanner of the right size (or a socket and wrench). Now and then there’s a snafu and you may get benches that are too wide for the table or a leg that lacks pre-drilled holes – in which case you’ll need a drill.
As for that word ‘rustic’ in the colour name, it is apt because both the table and benches, thick and heavy in appearance, would look right at home outside that tavern in Old Europe where the Student Prince sang his ‘Serenade’ to that beautiful barmaid.
- Rounded corners and capped bolt heads betoken thoughtful design.
- Both table and benches are thick-set, solid, and sturdy.
- Delightfully ‘rustic,’ this country style table and bench set takes us back to a bygone Bavaria.
- Don’t be surprised not to find any assembly instructions in the box – check your email’s inbox.
- A few kits may ship with a niggle such as an incorrect component or a piece without screw holes.
BrackenStyle’s kit is a round table surrounded by four benches attached to the table, and when you see it, you’ll think “Earthy, chunky, and solid.”
BrackenStyle’s garden set comprises of a circular table surrounded by four semi-circular benches which are attached to the table by cruciform undergirders. They are made of 32-millimetre timbers of FSC-certified Scandinavian pine. The wood has been treated with a wood preservative to guard against rot and decay.
This set is designed for 8 persons, 2 on each bench – though 3 on a bench would be a problem because of the central undergirder. The whole thing has a substantial and chunky look, matched by its solid and sturdy build quality. The quality timber is an eye-pleasing reddish clay-brown colour. The result is that the earth tones and the earthy look naturally complement one another.
The table’s diameter is 110 centimetres and it is 72 centimetres high. The whole set’s diameter – as measured across outside edges of opposing benches – is 180 centimetres. The total weight is about 60 kilogrammes. The table has a 40-millimetre parasol hole in the centre.
Putting it together is not difficult if you have a socket and wrench set but assembly does need two persons simply because of the heft of the pieces. Also, because of the overall weight, it would be a good idea to assemble this kit where you intend to place it. The instructions are helpful and it would be wise to read them first and proceed as outlined.
Now and then the pack of fasteners will be a few nuts, a couple of washers, or a bolt short. Very occasionally a timber will split within a fortnight or will be dinged to begin with, so you just may have to sort out a minor headache. However, such issues occur infrequently in BrackenStyle’s very attractive kit.
- This kit’s substantial and chunky look dovetails well with the earthy clay-brown hue.
- In fact, the ‘look’ does not deceive for the bench and table are quite heavy and rugged.
- Seats eight and, what is more, as this is a circular table the seating style is more intimate.
- Occasionally a set will contain a timber that has a tear or is dinged.
- Now and then the pack of fasteners will be missing a few nuts or bolts.
Britoniture’s set has three benches around a lightweight table so there’s ample elbow room; though some sets are flawed, this item is a bargain.
Britoniture’s picnic table set includes a round table with three benches around it, accomodating 6 – two to each bench. Each of the three benches is attached to the table with a distinctive angled undergirder-and-strut combination which make for a ‘tight’ and firm-feeling table-and-bench set. As the benches are well spaced apart all parties would have a lot of elbow room.
The table and benches are made of 27-millimetre timbers and the frame is made of 30-millimetre timbers of Scandinavian pine. They are stained to a pleasing coppery Burnt Sienna tone. However, not infrequently the coppery stain is not fully absorbed and dry and you may well get it on your hands and clothes!
The table has a diameter of 90 centimetres and height of 70 centimetres. The benches measure 80 x 24 centimetres and are 42 centimetres high. The whole caboodle has a diameter of 150 centimetres. The table has a 5-centimetre parasol hole in the centre; however, if the hole is anything less than perfectly-positioned, the parasol’s pole will be obstructed halfway through by one of the struts.
Britoniture’s quality control could use some tightening. Every now and again a kit’s parts will fit poorly with each other; components in other sets may require some drilling. Other sets may not have enough bolts or other fasteners. And assembly is difficult, very difficult, to begin with while the dodgy instructions don’t make things any easier. Unless you’re an expert handyman you’ll definitely need a friend to help you out with this one.
For those who may find a more expensive, larger, and bulkier circular table with ringed benches a bit much for their needs and overkill, Britoniture’s more economical and lighter set is a fine alternative.
For a Pinewood 6-seater as well-designed and solid as this set, it is incredibly cheap. Considering the value you get for the money it’s worth taking a chance on.
- Because there are only three spaced-apart benches, everyone gets a lot of elbow room.
- The clever inter-connections result in a tight and firm feel to the table and benches.
- This is a really good set but the price is also ‘really’ low; as such, it’s a ‘real’ bargain.
- Lax quality control means that a few kits have pieces that don’t fit well.
- Now and then a set does not have a sufficient number of fasteners.
- Sometimes the stain has not been absorbed and isn’t dry, and may get on your hands and clothes.
How To Treat A Picnic Table
Your picnic table will last for many years and also retain its looks if you follow a few guidelines. Some do’s and dont’s follow.
- Do not misuse your picnic table for such hobbies or any other purposes that could cause damage to it. For example, do not use power tools on the table, do not use it as a workbench, and do not put containers of solvents on the table.
- Wipe off spills and food stains using a damp cloth with a touch of mild liquid soap as soon as possible after close of festivities.
- If even a small amount of liquid that causes damage to wood, like hot coffee or hard spirits, is spilt on a wooden table, immediately lift it off with an absorbent cloth and wipe clean with a cloth dipped in mildly soapy water.
- Every year or every two years before the arrival of summer give your wooden garden table a coating of natural oil or wood preservative. If you have a pinewood table, look into linseed oil, tung oil and danish oil. Keep wooden furniture well away from the barbecue for a week or so after you have treated it with oil.
- If you have a folding table, when you stow it away be careful that it does not rest against anything that may damage its surface or that nothing can possibly strike it or fall on it. You could wrap your folding table in a couple of layers of styrofoam sheeting for protection before stowing it away.
- Wooden table and bench sets can be left outside through the winter but just make sure to cover it – table, benches and all – with a robust weatherproof protective cover.
How To Assemble A Picnic Table
Putting together a picnic table can be a breeze or it can cause you to pull out your hair. It depends on the table, the instructions and fasteners that come with it, and your level of DIY expertise. Assuming you’re an intermediate-level DIYer, here are some tips that will go a ways toward making assembly a breeze (or at least leave you with whatever hair you have!).
- Read and understand the instructions carefully. You never know what unexpected quirk may be conveyed in the instructions that you could never guess on your own.
- Compare the main assembly diagram or list of supplied components with the pieces you have actually received to ensure that you do have all the pieces and nothing is missing.
- Look through the supplied fasteners, and separate nuts, bolts, and washers into their various sizes. Confirm up-front that you have the full complement of fasteners.
- Be sure you have the appropriate tools to be able to fasten the nuts and bolts. A socket-and-wrench set would be very helpful.
- Sometimes one discovers during assembly that a pilot hole or pre-drilled hole that is supposed to be there just isn’t! You’ll avoid any resulting frustration if you have an electric drill at hand.
- Put together the table at the same spot that it is to stay at and be used in; see last sub-step underneath.
- If you have not asked a friend over to work with you, ask yourself if you have a family member who can help out. Now and again you’ll run into a spot of assembly that absolutely requires something you don’t have: three hands.
- Do not fully tighten nuts and bolts as you put the parts together. Leave them a little loose as you attach parts. Tighten fasteners one by one after everything is assembled and you are fully satisfied with the end-result. This method (practised by experienced DIYers) is helpful for three reasons:–
- You may need to remove a piece because you find out as you go along that it doesn’t go where you thought it did or because you have attached it the wrong way around.
- You may find that if two particular pieces are attached and fully tightened, a third piece that needs to be attached to one of them will staunchly refuse such attachment.
- If the fasteners are a little loose, you can pull, push, twist and turn the various pieces so as to get all the feet making solid contact with the ground and the tabletop and benches perfectly level before the final tightening-up. This will work only if the picnic table is being assembled at the same spot and position it is to stay in.
Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.