Picnic tables come in all shapes and sizes – you’ll want to base the size and shape of your new table on the space you have available and what you want to use it for. On top of this, there’s construction material to consider.
Take a look at the following guide to choose the best garden picnic table.
Garden picnic tables come in a range of styles and designs from the traditional rectangular table to round styles.
Round Picnic Tables
What are they good for? Round picnic tables are great if you want a more sociable environment, as everyone is looking inwards. It makes a nice atmosphere for social gatherings in the garden. Also, as you can see everyone at the table, round picnic tables can also be useful for keeping an eye on children whilst also having a sit down yourself! Round picnic tables look particularly eye catching on circular patio areas.
Any drawbacks? The main downside to having a round garden picnic table is having enough space for it. Circular picnic tables create more ‘dead space’ compared to rectangular tables. This is area that is “used up” by the table, although not actually used as functional sitting space. This can be impractical, and not very aesthetically pleasing, if a round picnic table is placed in a corner.
Rectangular Picnic Tables
What are they good for? Rectangular tables offer a pleasing sense of traditionalism to outdoor spaces. They fit well into corners, and other nooks in the garden. Plus, they can feel more congruent with squared-off patios as they mirror the straight lines and angles.
Any drawbacks? As mentioned above, the main downside to rectangular picnic tables is that you can’t easily talk to everyone at the table. If the picnic table seats eight people and you’re on the end of one bench, it’s hard to socialise with the person on the other end of the same bench.
Picnic Table Size
How many people are you hoping to fit around your picnic table (and how much space do you have in the garden)?
There are a range of picnic tables on the market – capable of seating anywhere from two to ten people (and beyond!). You’ll notice that most listings state how many people the picnic table can hold.
The following information can be used as a rough guide:
- A table that is around 1.8 m long will fit approximately eight people
- A table that is around 1.5m will hold five or six people.
- If you want extra room, it’s better to size up – sometimes manufacturers mention the absolute maximum capacity, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be comfortable to sit with that many people!
As you’ll see from my list of recommended tables, many of the best garden picnic tables are made from pressure treated timber. However, there are also occasions when they have metal frames.
Wooden Picnic Tables
Wooden picnic tables are extremely sturdy and will withstand years of being outside. The pieces of timber used should be over 3 cm thick to ensure stability.
Although most picnic tables are pressure treated before arrival, and may have been dip treated for protection against fungus and rot, wooden picnic benches will still need ongoing maintenance. You will need to treat them each year to protect the wood from the elements and help resist rot. Additionally, it’s a good idea to cover your picnic table with a waterproof cover over winter, or store it inside, to protect it from the worst of the rain and snow.
Look for smooth wood that has been well finished so you don’t catch clothes or get splinters from the wood. If your stained picnic table has some rough areas it is worth giving it a sand down and an extra coat of preservative or stain to get a really nice finish that will last. Consider doing these bits of maintenance before assembling your picnic table, as it can make the job a lot easier (even though in later years you’ll have to treat it when it’s altogether).
Metal Picnic Tables
Some garden picnic tables are made from metal and plastic. I wouldn’t recommend these for standard, everyday use. In fact, they’re usually aimed at children because they are easy to move around and clean. Another benefit of picnic tables with a metal frame is that they can be folded and collapsed down; however, they’re nowhere near as sturdy as wooden tables. If you want a semi-permanent table for your children, you could consider a metal picnic table.
When it comes to picnic benches, we mostly think of the seats being attached to the frame. This is certainly the most traditional style and it can help keep the table structurally strong. It’s also the best picnic bench style for commercial use as it means chairs don’t get moved around.
However, there are also picnic benches that come separate, detached benches. This is something that can be very beneficial in certain contexts and means the benches can be moved around as required. This style of bench is ideal if you need to use a high chair or wheelchair with your table. Another benefit of having a garden picnic table with separate benches is that they can generally be tucked under table, making the unit more compact when not in use. This can also make the table easier to cover or store in winter.
You should make sure the picnic table you choose has a parasol hole so you can protect yourself and your family from harmful sun. Alternatively, you can buy a cantilevered parasol or put an awning or gazebo over the table during the sunny weather.
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