Hosting a picnic is one of the fun things to do during summer. It allows you to reconnect with your family and share your favorite meals, drinks, and life experiences.
However, the experience comes true if you have prepared well for the occasion.
The edibles aside, another key aspect to consider when preparing for a picnic is the quality of the picnic tables to install in your backyard.
Picnic tables come in various designs, making it hard to find your perfect pick in the market. Luckily, I have researched and discussed the different types of picnic tables available to narrow down your selection list. Please keep reading to learn about them and their unique features.
What Is a Picnic Table?
A picnic table is a special table with benches for dining in the backyard, park, or other outdoor space. They have been popular in the United States since the early 20th century, when most tables were rectangular and wooden.
Today, picnic tables are made from diverse materials, including wood, aluminum, and recycled plastic, among other materials. In addition, they come in different shapes and sizes to fit the needs of different homeowners. Want to learn more about picnic tables? Read on:
Types of Picnic Tables
Picnic tables can be categorized based on:
- Construction material
- Type of benches
- Installation type
- Other special features
1. Types of Picnic Tables Based on Construction Material
Picnic tables feature different construction materials to offer varying longevity and meet customer needs. Below are the types of picnic tables you can obtain from different materials.
Wooden Picnic Tables: Adds A Natural Ambiance to Your Backyard
These outdoor tables are made exclusively from wood or a mix of wood and metal frames. Though durable, wooden picnic tables may be very vulnerable when exposed to elements in the outdoors. For instance, the tables may rot, peel, split or even warp when exposed to the rains for an extended period.
For this reason, you should go for wooden tables with a sealant coat to avoid the penetration of moisture and other elements into the wood.
Also, make sure you pick a table with a coated metal frame in case your table features a mix of wooden planks and a metal frame.
The wooden picnic tables are long-lasting if subjected to the right care. In addition, they don’t get too cold when exposed to cold like their metal counterparts.
On the flip side, wooden tables may be too heavy to move around in the backyard.
Metal Picnic Tables: Most Durable
The metal picnic tables are your go-to option if you are looking for a rugged table for substantial use by adults. This is because the metallic material is strong enough to withstand heavy weight and abrasion from the elements. In addition, a metallic material is easy to clean, making it the perfect candidate for use in dusty public spaces.
However, these rugged tables aren’t short of flaws. For instance, they heat up quickly and may burn your butts when exposed to the sun. Also, these seats can rust if over-exposed to the elements.
Recycled Plastic Picnic Tables: Best for Conservationists
These tables are made from high-quality plastic materials like High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMW) plastics from recycled containers.
During their production, the waste plastic materials are purified, shredded, separated by color, and then melted. The melted plastic is then formulated with color pigments and ultraviolet stabilizers and designed into eco-friendly and maintenance-free picnic tables. The included UV stabilizers prevent the wear and tear of the plastic picnic table, extending its lifespan.
The manufacturers of these tables use advanced plastic technology to ensure that the tables don’t crack when exposed to high pressure.
So, the recycled picnic tables offer a durable, lightweight, and eco-friendly option for outdoor dining.
Concrete Picnic Tables: Best for Public Spaces
The concrete tables are your go-to option if you want durable and permanent tables to install in your backyard. They are constructed using a blend of sand, hard cementing material, and strong wire mesh to ensure their sturdiness.
They are featured in private backyards, public parks, institutions, and workplaces.
One advantage of this type of picnic table is that they are weatherproof. This implies that they won’t rot, crack or even warp like their wooden counterparts. Their only drawback is their lack of mobility due to their heavy weight.
Aluminum Picnic Tables: Most Lightweight
Did you say you need lightweight, durable, and elegant picnic tables installed in your yard? Then aluminum picnic tables are worth your trial. Aluminum is a lightweight metal, and so are the tables. You can easily move them around the yard to customize them to your preferred seating.
Additionally, aluminum doesn’t splinter or warp, meaning its tables can serve you in the long run without calling for a replacement.
Cleaning the aluminum tables is a breeze. All you need is to dip a non-abrasive scouring pad in a marine aluminum cleaner and then use it to scrub the aluminum table surface and frame. Then, rinse the scrubbed surfaces using warm water and dry them with a towel — that’s all.
However, aluminum tables may easily corrode when exposed to the elements, interfering with their lifespan. You need to coat them with aluminum oxide to prevent the worst from happening.
2. Types of Picnic Tables Based on The Types of Benches
When shopping for picnic tables, you’ll realize that most tables are paired with benches where you should rest while enjoying your meal. The different types of picnic tables you can find under this arrangement include:
Picnic Tables With Benches Attached: Best For Public Spaces
An attached picnic table means the table and the bench are constructed as a unit. One of the primary reasons the tables come attached is to reduce the risk of theft or damage that is likely to happen to the benches and the table if detached. Also, the attached table gives you peace of mind during a windstorm, knowing that you have a few items to worry about.
While the attached benches enhance the stability of the benches, they are very limiting as far as the flexibility of the tables and the benches is concerned. First, you can’t adjust the distance between the bench and the table as it is fixed. This can be a major turnoff to short people who can’t access the table properly due to their short stature.
Detached Tables: Ideal for Private Backyards
The detached picnic tables come with separate benches. In other words, their seats aren’t attached to the picnic tables. That means that you can move the benches and the table separately to create a new seating arrangement.
Detached tables are ideal for use in less congested areas like private backyards, where they are less likely to get lost. On the flip side, detached tables aren’t ideal for high-traffic areas where people might misplace or damage them.
Perforated Picnic Tables: Ideal for Use By Children
As the name suggests, a perforated picnic table features numerous perforations, allowing rainwater drainage and air passage to keep the table and the attached seats dry.
The perforated picnic seats and table are easy to clean. Thanks to its numerous perforations, which allow for the passage of food particles, spills, and other unwanted waste. Indeed, the mesh network makes perforated tables ideal for use by children.
3. Picnic Tables Based on Shape
When shopping for picnic tables in the market, you would like to pick something that can accommodate most visitors and fit well on your picnic site. That means considering the shape of your picnic site to choose the right-shaped tables to fill your space. Below are the different picnic tables you can find in the market, based on their shape.
Rectangular Picnic Tables: Best for Large Picnic Sites
Rectangular picnic tables are ideal for squared and rectangular landscapes. And most of them are meant to hold up to eight people. They can be the best bet if you want to accommodate all your visitors in a few rows.
They can be made from wood, metal, recycled plastic, or a mixture of wood and metal construction to fit the needs of different users.
One advantage of rectangular picnic tables is that they are more spacious than their round and squared counterparts. So, installing them in your yard may give your visitors ample space for placing their meals, playing cards, chess, and other table games.
On the downside, rectangular tables may look less appealing than their round and squared counterparts when arranged in the backyard due to their asymmetrical nature.
Round Picnic Tables: Most Elegant and Space-Saving Design
The round picnic tables are aesthetically appealing, given their symmetrical shapes. They feature a smaller surface area than their rectangular counterparts, which suits them for use in all spaces, including confined picnic sites.
One advantage of round picnic tables is that they concentrate sounds to the center of the table to allow for efficient conversation. However, they may not be the ideal option for a large family picnic due to their compact size.
Round tables have varying degrees of longevity and mobility depending on the materials used for making them. The common construction materials for making round tables include recycled plastic, metal, concrete, and wood.
It’s advisable to explore all the available round options to pick the best for your backyard.
Square Picnic Tables: Best for Small Families
The squared picnic table is another great option if you want to give your backyard a touch of elegance. This is because they are typically small (hosting four persons) and symmetrical, allowing the field planners to create appealing patterns using them easily.
Square tables offer a larger surface area than round tables. However, squared picnic tables may not fit well in some confined spaces given their shape, unlike their rounded counterparts.
4. Picnic Tables Based on The Types of Finishes
Picnic tables come with different types of finishes to adapt them for use in different types of weather and enhance their looks.
While some people will choose the picnic tables based on their construction material or other factors described above, others may use the finishing type as one of the main considerations.
That’s why I described the types of picnic tables falling under the finishing in the sections below.
Powder Coated Picnic Tables: Best Weatherproof
Powder-coated picnic tables refer to tables that feature a dry coating finishing material to protect them from the elements. More specifically, the dry coating process involves using pigments, ground resins, and other additives to add some gloss and hardness to table frames and surfaces.
The powder coat is mostly applied to metal picnic tables through electrostatic technology. The idea behind the coating is to harden them and prevent them from scratches, corrosion, chipping, fading, and other abrasions from repeated use and exposure to elements.
Thermoplastic Picnic Tables
Thermoplastic picnic tables are metallic tables featuring a polyethylene thermoplastic coating. The metal tables are dipped in a polyethylene mix and then left to cure, resulting in a thick protective layer for the metal picnic table.
Like powder coating, this coating is weatherproof, preventing the metal from rust, scratches, dust, and other abrasions from the elements.
5. Picnic Tables Based on The Type of Installation
If you choose picnic tables depending on the nature of their installation, you will come across inground installed and floating table types described below:
Inground Picnic Tables
These are tables installed permanently in the backyard. More precisely, the installation team digs holes for placing the table. They then place the table feet into the dug holes and cover them with concrete slab or soil.
This type of installation helps to reduce the vandalism of the picnic tables by the public or the destruction of the tables by windstorms. It works well on heavy picnic tables like the ones made from metal and concrete.
Once installed, most inground picnic tables would stay put unless uprooted by a forklift.
Floating Picnic Tables
On the other hand, floating picnic tables aren’t dug into the ground. Rather, they are built stable to stay afloat without flipping. In most cases, the floating picnic tables include lightweight options, like aluminum tables, to allow for mobility and a more customized seating arrangement.
6. Types of Picnic Tables Based Special Features
Some picnic table options are categorized according to the type of people they serve, conditions under which they are used, and other special aspects. Below is an in-depth discussion of such tables:
Umbrella Picnic Tables: Best for Sunny and Rainy Weather
The picnic table umbrellas make great tables for use during rainy and sunny weather. They can come in square, rectangular, or even round shapes to fit the preferences of different users.
Additionally, these tables feature umbrella-like top covers to secure the occupants during rainy weather. The table top features a hole for securing the umbrella.
The umbrellas used in these tables include on-demand and permanent umbrellas. On-demand umbrellas are fitted following the weather changes, while permanent umbrellas are always fixed to the table.
ADA-Accessible Picnic Tables: Best for Disabled Persons
The ADA-accessible picnic tables refer to table types that can accommodate disabled persons. Their seats are normally longer than the normal seats to allow for easy access from the wheelchair. The ADA-compliant picnic tables may also come with an umbrella to protect them from the elements.
Want to learn more? Follow this link to learn about the ADA Picnic Table Requirements.
Children Picnic Tables: Ideal for Use by Kids
One of the main reasons why people hold picnics is to help their children break away from the possibly boring indoor setup. One way to ensure that they enjoy most of their time outdoors is to get them a custom-made picnic table for children.
The picnic tables for children come with special designs and features like crayon holders, cup holders, and a center hole for fixing an umbrella to protect the kids from the sun and rain. A good example of children’s picnic tables is the Little Tikes Easy Store Picnic Table for kids with umbrellas.
How to Choose the Right Picnic Table for Your Needs
So far, we’ve discussed the different types of picnic tables available. The next step is to familiarize yourself with the various factors you need to consider to land the right picnic table for your needs.
Choosing Between Tables with Attached and Detached Benches
One of the main determinants of whether to go for tables with attached or detached benches is the number of people you expect at your picnic site.
More specifically, tables with benches would be ideal if you expect many visitors. This is because the attached benches would force the visitors to use tables as they are without scattering the benches everywhere.
On the other hand, the picnic tables with detached benches are ideal if you expect a small number of people or if you are holding the picnic in your backyard. However, always check to ensure that the detached benches are heavy enough to avoid being blown away by windstorms.
Choosing Picnic Tables Based on Construction Materials
Picnic tables may come from metal, wood, recycled plastic, concrete, and aluminum materials. Your choice of any of the above materials would depend on your preferences on aspects like durability, weather resistance, mobility, and longevity, among others.
For instance, the concrete picnic seat is ideal if you want durable and weatherproof tables to install permanently in your backyard.
Metal and aluminum picnic tables can also serve you in the long term, but you may have to treat them regularly to secure them from the elements. The same applies to wooden picnic tables.
In other words, each of the above construction materials has strengths and weaknesses. You need to compare the strengths of the different materials and pick the one that marries well with your specific needs.
Choosing Picnic Tables Based on Shape
Picnic tables come in rectangular, square and round shapes. Again, your choice of any of the above shapes boils down to your preferences. However, if your picnicking site is limited, you may need to pick round or square picnic tables because they save space.
On the other hand, you may need rectangular picnic tables if you have a large site for holding your picnic.
Choosing Picnic Tables Based on The Type of Installation
How to install your picnic tables depends on whether they would be subjected to private or public use. The public-used picnic tables are more likely to get stolen or damaged than their private counterparts. As such, they need inground installation to limit their mobility and prevent them from being stolen.
On the other hand, the privately-owned picnic tables are less likely to get stolen, meaning you can leave them floating in the owner’s backyard.
Frequently Asked Questions About Picnic Tables
Below are answers to various questions that people have asked about picnic tables
Where Do I Place a Picnic Table?
It would be best to place a picnic table at the edge of the yard or on the side where it doesn’t interfere with other activities in the backyard. For instance, you should install it so that children won’t find it difficult to play in the yard.
What is the Best Picnic Table?
The best picnic table is the one that meets your picnic needs and serves you for the long term. I’m usually fond of concrete picnic tables because they require little maintenance and are less prone to theft. I can advise you to compare the various available options to pick the one that offers a perfect blend of elegance, durability, and maintenance needs.