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A staple at campgrounds and parks, the picnic table can comfortably hold a crowd while giving your outdoor meal an intimate vibe. When considering which material to choose, wood is the classic option, although a plasticized wood composite may be easier to clean and maintain over time. Aluminum has a sleek look and is also easy to wipe down, but might get hot in the mid-day sun. Colorful plastic tables work well for kids (they're also great for craft projects!), and they're often inexpensive enough that you won't mind replacing them every few years.
You'll also want to consider how many people you want to seat, and whether you prefer the benches to be attached or stand-alone. If you want to use the benches for extra backyard seating, the latter may give you more flexibility.
No matter your needs, there's sure to be a picnic table out there for you. Read on for our favorites.
Best Overall: Millwood Pines Malachi Outdoor 3 Piece Dining Set
This attractive table, which comes with two separate benches, has achieved the trifecta of good looks, quality, and a fairly moderate price tag. It's made from durable acacia wood that has been sandblasted for a weathered look. Eco-minded shoppers also appreciate acacia because it's a sustainable material that's easy to grow and often doesn't require harmful pesticides. The table measures nearly six feet long and three feet wide, and seats four adults comfortably (more if you have kids in the mix or extra chairs for the ends). The legs and frame are made of powder-coated, rust-resistant steel, and the A-frame style helps minimize both bench and table wobbles.
Something to note: if you're planning on leaving the set out during rain or snow, make sure that you treat it with a weather-resistant seal or stain. You can also just cover it up, as the manufacturer recommends.
Best Budget: Lowe's Brown 72-Inch Southern Yellow Pine Picnic Table
Two things to know before you buy this picnic table: The wood will have some knots and other imperfections (some fans say it's part of the charm), and the top arrives unfinished, so you'll want to add at least a clear coat of sealant if you want to protect it from the elements. (The legs have been treated to resist issues like rot, mold, and termites.) But for solid wood, it's hard to beat this price. Lowe's offers assembly, but you might prefer to stain the individual pieces before putting it together. The tabletop measures six feet long and 28 inches wide and can fit four to six adults.
Best Large: DutchCrafters Amish Handcrafted 8-Foot Cedar Picnic Table with Attached Benches
Roomy enough to sit eight adults comfortably, this hand-built picnic table is available in eight different stain choices, including gray, cedar, and oak. If you're a DIY type, you can also opt to have it arrive unfinished and apply the stain yourself. It measures almost eight feet long and 27 inches wide and it's made from red cedar wood, which naturally resists rot and decay. Note that you'll need to put it together, and given the massive size and weight, special delivery will be required.
Best Round: Giantex Wooden Picnic Table Set with Wood Bench
This round table is complemented by its four gently curved benches, and would look lovely in a deck or patio corner. It's made from fir wood and has been treated with water-based paint, which gives it extra protection from weather damage. It measures about 44 inches across, and each bench can hold either one adult or two children. The table has a hole in the middle for an umbrella, and some assembly is needed.
Best Modern: Novogratz Paulette Rectangular Four-Person Dining Set
If you're looking to give your backyard a retro Palm Springs vibe, look no further than this streamlined, weather-resistant set that mixes teak-colored resin and powder-coated steel. The frame is a cheery yellow (it's also sold in red, gray, and white) and it's easy to keep clean—simply wipe it down with a damp cloth. The table is five feet long and seats four to six adults. Not only does the table have a small footprint, but the benches also tuck neatly underneath when you're finished eating. Because of the style and dimensions, this set would also be a natural fit indoors.
Best Rustic: Vifah Miami Three-Piece Wood Outdoor Dining Set
This table, which comes with two separate benches, looks as though it was inspired by farmhouse decor. It's made from solid acacia hardwood, and the tabletop has small slats that help prevent water from pooling up on rainy days. (In addition to being attractive and sustainable, acacia is also known for being quite dense and decay-resistant.) The table measures nearly five feet long and seats six people comfortably. Assembly is required, and the process is fairly straightforward.
Best for Kids: Zoomie Kids Attles Kids Activity Table
If you host lots of outdoor playdates, you'll want to invest in this brightly colored table that can work well as an eating spot or an arts-and-crafts station. It's made from durable, polypropylene plastic (meaning it can be easily wiped down over and over), and the table measures about 2 ½ feet wide. The weight capacity for the seating is 110 pounds, and it seats four children comfortably, depending on their ages. If you're traveling, the set can be easily taken apart and reassembled, and the whole thing is impressively lightweight, weighing over 11 pounds. The table also comes with a detachable umbrella.
Best Portable: Outsunny Four-Person Plastic Portable Suitcase Picnic Table
This portable picnic table is a popular choice for beach and camping trips, as it weighs less than 15 pounds and comes with its own suitcase. Each seat has a weight limit of 220 pounds, but in practice, it tends to be used for families with two adults and two kids (depending on their sizes, four adults might feel like you're pushing its limits). It comes with a hole for an umbrella and can be set up in minutes. The triangular design adds stability, and the foldable legs are made from lightweight aluminum. Although many tables of this style also have an aluminum top, this one is plastic, so it won't get scorching hot on sunny days.
Our top pick is the Malachi Outdoor 3 Piece Dining Set (view at Wayfair), which is well-constructed and has a universally appealing look. Want to save big? If you're willing to do a little DIY and add a clear coat of sealant, the distressed-yet-sturdy Brown 72-Inch Southern Yellow Pine Picnic Table (view at Lowe's) is so affordable you might even consider buying two of them.
What to Look for in a Picnic Table
Size and Shape
Most picnic tables comfortably sit four to six adults. For a large family or frequent social gatherings, look for a larger table. For small spaces, a round table sometimes fits and looks better than the usual rectangular shape.
Wood, even highly durable cedar wood, will acquire a weathered look over time, no matter how it’s treated or conditioned. Depending on the type of wood, it is also a sustainable material, unlike steel or plastic.
If you leave the table outside year-round, you might have to finish or refinish it with a coating or sealer to improve its weatherability. Often picnic tables are a combination of wood for the tabletop and steel for the legs. Wood composite, plastic, and aluminum are easy to clean but aluminum tabletops have the drawback of getting uncomfortably hot from the sun.
Assembly and Finishing
Unfinished tables have the advantage that you can choose the stain of your choice. Some tables require partial or complete assembly.
A picnic table with the benches attached is especially sturdy no matter whether you place it on a paved patio, on the grass, or other uneven ground. But it’s also more cumbersome to move, it does not give you any options for seating arrangements, nor can you use the benches elsewhere. The benches can also be in the way when you want to use only the table for a summer party buffet.
For a small patio or backyard, a table with a hole for an umbrella can be a convenient option.
How long is a picnic table?
The standard length is six feet. Longer picnic tables measure eight feet, and shorter tables five feet.
How do you stain a picnic table?
How do you paint a picnic table?
The process is pretty much the same as staining, except you don’t need a clear coating as the paint functions as a coating. For best results, brush in in one direction with long sweeps.
What size tablecloth do you need for a picnic table?
A tablecloth for a standard 6-foot rectangular picnic table should be at least 84 inches long and 54 inches wide. For an 8-foot table you need a tablecloth at least 104 inches long and 54 inches wide.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Lexi Dwyer has written about patio tables, inflatable hot tubs, and budget furniture for The Spruce. She's a big fan of durable, affordable acacia wood furniture: Despite her benign neglect, her outdoor set (purchased in 2011!) has held up remarkably well. Additional reporting was done by Nadia Hassani, a master gardener who has over 20+ years of gardening experience.