How to Restore a Picnic Table


Wooden picnic tables exposed to the elements can take a real beating over time, resulting in an ugly appearance and a less than inviting seating area. Instead of trashing an old picnic table, try restoring it. You'll save money--a new picnic table costs more than $150--and you'll save the hassle of removal and delivery (see Reference 1). With a little time and work, you can have your old picnic table looking fresh again and ready for any backyard gathering.

Things You'll Need

  • Brush
  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Sandpaper
  • Hammer
  • Wood putty
  • Paint, stain or sealant
  • Clean the picnic table thoroughly. Use a hose to wash off any loose debris. Use a brush and a mixture of water and bleach to really scrub all surfaces of the table clean. Rinse clean, and then allow the table to dry.

  • Check the table's structural integrity. Look carefully for any loose or damaged boards or exposed nails. Fill in any small rotted sections of wood with carpenter's wood putty. Hammer down any exposed nails, and add nails to any loose boards.

  • Sand the table. If your table is in really rough shape, then you'll want to start with a coarse sandpaper and finish with a finer grit paper. Make sure to thoroughly sand any surfaces that will come in contact with people, including seats and the top, including sides. Brush off any and all loose materials and dust.

  • Finish the table with paint, wood stain or sealant. Use an outdoor grade paint in the color or your choice to add personality to your table or to match it to other outdoor items. Use a wood stain for a more natural look of finished wood. If you want to maintain the raw look of the bare wood, finish your table with a clear wood sealant.

  • Follow the directions on your paint, stain, or sealer for drying times, and make sure to allow the finish on your table adequate time to set before you use the table.

Tips & Warnings

  • An electric belt sander will make the job of sanding the table much faster. It's important to finish your table with some sort of paint or wood sealant to protect the table from the elements and add life to your restoration work. This can be a messy job, especially if you clean with bleach. Make sure to wear old clothes you don't mind getting dirty or spotted with bleach.

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