Budget Outdoor Seating Ideas


You're getting ready for a backyard event, and you don't have enough seating, or maybe you just want to add seating areas to your backyard without breaking the budget. Re-purpose four chairs into two bench seats to go around a backyard fire pit, recycle wood to make a backyard bench or two. All it takes is basic, novice-level carpentry skills to complete any of these projects.

Two-Chair Bench

  • Turn a pair of yard-sale or thrift-store-find dining chairs into a backyard bench that looks custom-made when painted and outfitted with a cushion. Hunt for chairs with interesting backs and solid back legs. The upholstery, seat or front legs don't matter because you will remove them. Build a rectangular platform out of 1-by-4s, supported in the corner by angled hardware. Secure it to the chair backs with 1 1/2-inch wood screws; add a center support; and secure a piece of plywood cut to the shape of the platform that becomes the sides of the new bench. Add a coat of primer, paint it, and buy or make a cushion to fit the new bench seat.

Reclaimed-Wood Backyard Bench

  • You can buy the wood new or recycle weathered, uncut wood. For one bench, all you need is one 2-by-8 board about 10 feet long, a 2-by-4 cut 92 inches long and 10 3 1/2-inch wood screws; redwood weathers especially nicely outdoors. Cut two legs from the larger board, each about 14 inches long, and place them perpendicular to the larger board approximately 10 to 12 inches in from the end. Secure the seat to the legs, three on each side, with the wood screws. Insert the 2-by-4 on end up against the bottom of the seat and secure to the legs to make the bench firm.

Cinder-Block Seating

  • With 12 16-by-8-by-6-inch cinder blocks and four 4-by-4-by-10-foot boards, you can make an outdoor seating area in less time than it takes to pick up the supplies at the local home improvement store. Bury four cinder blocks side by side in the dirt or a bit of wet fence post concrete, standing them on end at least 4 inches in the ground and 7 feet apart to provide stability. Lay two more cinder blocks perpendicularly atop these on each side. Thread the 4-by-4s through each of the holes of the top blocks to create the bench, allowing the ends of the 4-by-4 to hang out on each side, secured to the concrete with concrete adhesive. Add a cushion for comfort to finish this no-nails-required outdoor seating.

L-Shaped Benches

  • If you have a patio or small deck, you can quickly fashion an L-shaped bench for one of its corners for under $40, at the time of publication. With solid 4-by-4 lumber that becomes legs and 1-by-4 pine boards, you can assemble this L-shaped bench on a Saturday morning and have it ready for your afternoon event. Cut the legs out of 4-by-4 blocks of wood to the desired height. Create one bench first by securing the 1-by-4 boards flat on the sides of the 4-by-4s and aligned to their tops to frame in the bench. Add planks of 1-by-4s across the top to form the seating area. Sand with the grain of the wood to remove splinters. Finish in a transparent or semi-transparent stain or paint, as desired. Make certain cut ends on the 4-by-4 legs are flat for balanced seating.

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