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Best Overall: Hampton Bay West Park Aluminum Outdoor Patio Dining Table
This attractive, affordable six-person table has many charms. It's rugged enough to stand up to rain and other kinds of moisture, thanks to its powder-coated aluminum frame and polywood slats, which will resist chipping and splintering. (Polywood is a form of plastic lumber made from recycled materials, and it's known for being especially weatherproof.) It measures about three feet long and 28 inches high, which is the standard height for dining tables, so plenty of different chairs will fit well around it. If you like the look, there are many additional matching pieces such as a coffee table, sectional, loveseat, lounge chair, bench, and side table. Other than wiping it down with a damp cloth, you won't need to worry about maintaining it from year to year. Assembly is required and an Allen wrench is included.
Best Large: Pottery Barn Indio X-Base Extending Dining Table
If you have a large family or love to entertain (or both!), consider this gorgeous piece crafted from sustainably harvested Eucalyptus Grandis wood. It measures about 76 inches long (and seats 8 people comfortably), but using the two leaves it can be extended to 102 inches to accommodate a crowd of 10. The table features mortise and tenon joinery, which is a fancy way of saying that the pieces are attached at right angles; this simple-but-strong technique has been used in woodworking for centuries. Adjustable levelers are included to help keep the surface stable on uneven surfaces, so you'll avoid the dreaded wobbles as you're trying to enjoy a freshly poured cocktail. The surface has been hand-painted in several steps to achieve a weathered gray finish.
Note that keeping up this look will require some TLC: Pottery Barn recommends covering the table when it's not in use and storing indoors during the winter. Lots of matching seating is available, including dining chairs and benches. The table also has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which indicates that the wood comes from an area where the rights of indigenous people are protected, and is free from deforestation and threats to endangered species.
Best Small: Wrought Studio Rourke Metal Dining Table
Need something for a small balcony or porch? This simple metal table, which comes in four vibrant shades, seats four people comfortably. Inspired by the minimalist look found at urban cafés, it has a square shape and measures roughly 32 by 32 inches. A brace under the top surface helps offer more stability, and the legs have rubber feet to help it slide easily and protect the ground from damage. Assembly is required (it takes about 15 minutes), and several reviewers praised the table for being sturdier and heavier than it appeared online. They also loved its ability to add a pop of color to a petite space.
Best Sustainable: IKEA Äpplarö Drop-Leaf Outdoor Dining Table
Acacia wood is not only a sustainable material, but it's also highly dense, making it rugged enough to stand up to outdoor use. (Eco-minded shoppers will be pleased to know that IKEA doesn't use any illegally harvested wood in their furniture.) This table has removable drop leaves and can be extended from 55 to 102 inches, seating anywhere from four to eight people. Note that it will need to be touched up after a few summers outside, and IKEA recommends their Varda stain for the job. If you prefer something smaller, a version of the Äpplarö is also sold without the drop leaves. There are many coordinating pieces, including folding chairs, captain's chairs, and side tables.
Best Picnic Table Set: Joss & Main Besni Three-Piece Dining Set
A serious upgrade from the typical wooden tables you find at public parks and campsites, this set has an elegant, industrial-meets-rustic aesthetic. The frame is made from steel, and the tops of the table and benches are crafted from lightweight concrete that has been painted to resemble wood. You can choose between two color options: Smoky gray or smoky brown, and both have a delightfully aged-looking patina. One reviewer who is currently using it on her lakeside deck said the set "feels like a beautiful day in Sonoma." Other shoppers also praised its sturdiness, although due to the weight (130 pounds), two adults will be needed to assemble it. The table is just under six feet long and seats six adults comfortably.
Best Coffee Table: Crosley Kaplan Oiled Bronze Coffee Table
This budget-friendly coffee table has a steel frame with an oil bronze finish and is designed to resist rust. It has a versatile look that will blend well with other types of furniture like wood or wicker. It's about four feet long and can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth and soapy water. Reviewers praised its solid construction (it was able to withstand strong gusts of wind) but also said it's lightweight enough to move around easily if needed. Matching end tables, lounge chairs, and a love seat are available as well. Assembly is required and takes about 15 minutes.
Best for Young Kids: Little Tikes Easy Store Jr. Play Table
Give your little ones their own designated spot outside for having a snack or doing crafts. They'll have their own space and the adults might even buy themselves some time for uninterrupted conversation at the "grown-up table." This colorful option, which is made from non-toxic polypropylene plastic, is ideal for kids between 16 months and five years. Plus, four children can sit at once so it's great for larger households. Note that it will take two people to assemble it, but the pieces snap easily together so no tools are required.