Guide written by:
Sylvie, Ecrivain & journaliste brico/déco, Essonne
Traditionally used in campsites or as street furniture, picnic tables are also great in the garden. These tables come in all shapes and sizes to select according to how you plan on using them: from fixed to folding models to wood, plastic, aluminium or even concrete, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Selecting a picnic table based on function
When used as a garden table, picnic tables can be found in all shapes and materials, including heavier materials such as concrete. The size you choose will depend on the amount of space available and on how many people you want to be able to seat.
If you would like a picnic table you can move around, go for one made of a lighter material such as aluminium. Your model should also be collapsible and compact. The ideal design: a picnic table that folds up like a suitcase. There are also models that are come with separate benches or chairs; the seats are not attached to the table, which makes them easier to move around, but less stable to sit on.
If children will be using the picnic table, you might prefer a table made of a material other than wood.Plastic, for example, is easier to clean. Plastic picnic tables also come in a range of bright colours. Note that if you choose a picnic table with lower benches, it will be perfect for seating younger children, but they will soon outgrow it.
Different types of picnic tables
Picnic tables with two or four benches attached come in a range of different shapes and can be either fixed or folding.
Shapes and sizes
Picnic tables can be rectangular, square, round or even hexagonal in shape. The shape you choose depends entirely on your tastes as well as the amount of space you have (as square or rectangular tables are easier to fit into a corner). Round tables can seat more people than differently shaped tables of the same size.
The size of a picnic table must correspond to the number of people you wish to seat (the largest tables generally seating up to eight people), as well as the amount of space you have available.
If you go for a folding model that is designed to be moved around, pay attention to volume and weight.
Fixed or folding
The lightest models of fixed picnic tables, such as those made of aluminium, should ideally be anchored into the soil to ensure stability. For wooden models, select anchors specifically designed to keep the feet lifted off the ground.
If your picnic table is folding, it should generally be equipped with a handle for easier carrying. It might also fold up into a suitcase-style shape.
Picnic table materials
This choice will depend on your tastes, how you will use the table, and your budget. Be sure to also note any maintenance requirements.
Wooden picnic tables
When placed outside, a wooden picnic table naturally blends into its surroundings. You can choose from a variety of wood types, including treated European wood (pine, oak, locust, and so on) and naturally rot-resistant exotic wood (teak, itauba, cumaru, and so on). All wood species perform differently in terms of their resistance to damp, insects or fungi.
Composite wood picnic tables are made up of wood fibres and plastic. They are rot-proof and won't splinter or split. This material doesn't require any regular care, unlike natural wood, which must be regularly treated with a product designed specifically for the type of wood: wax, oil, varnish, brightener, and so on.
Plastic picnic tables
Plastic picnic tables are moisture- and impact-resistant, in addition to being lightweight and therefore easy to move around. They come in a wide range of colours and require no special care, beyond a bit of soap and water.
Aluminium picnic tables
Aluminium picnic tables are very resistant to various weather conditions (rain, frost, heat, and so on) and corrosion. Another benefit: their light weight makes them easy to move around. Please note that this material tends to heat up in the sun.
Some picnic tables are made entirely of aluminium while others feature an aluminium frame and a plastic tabletop.
Concrete picnic tables
Concrete picnic tables are more solid in appearance, are very stable and highly resistant to all types of weather, making it unnecessary to store them indoors over the winter. Because of their weight, they are very stable, but also difficult to move around.
Picnic table accessories
It's important to place your picnic table in a shaded area in the summertime – especially if you've chosen a material that heats up in the sun.
During the winter, it's best to protect your picnic table, unless it's made of concrete.
Collapsible picnic tables can be stored in a dry place.
Picnic tables that can't be moved can be stored under a waterproof, strong and fitted protective cover.
Guide written by:
Sylvie, Ecrivain & journaliste brico/déco, Essonne, 197 guides
Après avoir travaillé au service de presse de France 2 et de la Cinq, j’ai choisi de laisser parler ma plume en m’orientant vers le journalisme et l’édition. Aussi éclectique dans mes goûts que dans mes écrits, passionnée de décoration et de bricolage comme d’histoire et de sciences, j’écris depuis plus de vingt ans sur ces thématiques. À mon actif : des ouvrages didactiques, romans et nouvelles, et de très nombreux articles brico déco regorgeant de conseils et d’astuces, expérimentés dans la vieille maison que je rénove peu à peu.