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Buyer's Guide for Picnic Tables

guide to picnic tables

Your comprehensive guide to picnic tables

Buyer's Guide for Picnic Tables

  • Demand for Picnic Tables
  • Picnic Table Maintenance
  • Go Green with Recycled Plastic Picnic Tables
  • Types of Picnic Tables
  • What Shape and Style Should I Select?
  • The Finishing Touch – Types of Finishes
  • Picnic Table Installation Options
  • Don’t Forget the Park Grills
  • Key Takeaways Checklist
  • Resources
  • About the Park Catalog

Demand for Picnic Tables

Stroll through a park on a warm Saturday or Sunday afternoon and you’re almost certain to see one thing: families and friends gathered around picnic tables, eating, laughing, celebrating birthdays, playing games, and making memories.

picnic table group

Picnic table attract friends

In a time when Americans are opting for smaller yards and more shared neighborhood spaces, heading to the park for a family barbecue is becoming a new tradition. Your parks and facilities are likely filled with happy guests picnicking together.

But what if there aren’t enough picnic tables to accommodate everyone? Most parks have more guests than their picnic tables can fit. When guests can’t find a comfortable table to eat at, they will probably sit in the grass, which can lead to increased littering. If guests can’t get comfortable, they will probably just eat in their cars or head home.

The need for more picnic tables is greater now than ever before. Give your guests an ideal outdoor experience with safe, sturdy picnic tables. Not only will it provide a positive experience for your guests, it will also bring them outside, which can be a rejuvenating experience.

If you’re a business owner, picnic tables could help boost employee productivity. Studies show that spending a few minutes outside can recharge your mental batteries by decreasing stress and health issues. Interacting with nature makes your workplace healthier. In fact, Eva M. Selhub, a Harvard physician, says that a little nature stimulates reward neurons in the brain, turning off stress response and improving your immunity.


Picnic Table Maintenance

Looking for Low Maintenance?

When buying a picnic table, if your priority is minimum maintenance, then make sure you select your material carefully. With blustering weather, spilling foods, growing mold, and infesting insects, prioritizing sturdy and easy to clean tables is an excellent decision.

metal picnic table with easy maintenance expanded pattern
Metal picnic table with easy to maintain expanded pattern


A few good options for low maintenance picnic tables include:

  • Perforated or Extended picnic tables- These are the plastic picnic table tops with small holes in them. The holes allows rain water to naturally fall through the table, keeping it protected from water damage, warping, and rust.
  • Thermoplastic coated- This is one of the toughest coatings around! It’s a thick coating that helps keep your picnic tables cool, even on the hottest summer days. It’s also maintenance-free and lasts for a very long time.
  • Recycled plastic- Reduce your carbon footprint with a picnic table made from recycled plastic. These tables are maintenance-free and strong enough for extreme weather.

Keeping your Wooden Picnic Tables Nice

If you decide to opt for a classic wooden picnic table, protecting them with a careful sealant can keep them safe from damage for up to a year at a time. At that time, perform an annual picnic table maintenance. Bleach the tables to prevent the growth of mildew, then seal them with a water-based sealant. Conserving the wood with preservative, a water repellent, and stain or paint, will all keep your table looking nice so that it lasts for years to come.


You can also protect picnic tables from damage and weathering by covering with a fitted cover when not in use, cleaning periodically to prevent the buildup of food, dirt, or grime, and requesting that guests use tablecloths to protect the surface. These guidelines may be difficult to enforce if you have dozens of picnic tables, but if your facility has just a few then it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle, especially when you consider the strong protection that it provides.


Go Green with Recycled Plastic Picnic Tables


recycled plastic picnic tables
Recycled plastic picnic tables are "greener" and more durable than ever

One growing trend in picnic tables is the use of recycled plastic picnic tables. Besides being essentially maintenance-free and very easy to clean, recycled plastic picnic tables are also eco-friendly.

Recycled plastic picnic tables are now more durable and always great for the environment.

By purchasing and installing one of these “green” picnic tables, you are reducing the demand for lumber, metal, and chemicals for maintenance. They could be an excellent choice for public schools, where the budget for maintaining picnic tables is low and teachers can model valuable lessons for students about the tangible benefits of recycling.

Recycled plastic picnic tables are made from recycled plastic scraps. They come in round, square, rectangle, hexagon, and a variety of other shapes. With thermoplastic coatings and other sealing options available, there are plenty of color choices other than just standard brown. In fact, many tables actually have a traditional wooden look, and you can only tell that they are different when you look closely or feel the material.

Types of Tables

Selecting the right type of picnic table for your needs is essential. It helps your guests feel comfortable, while also installing a table that lasts for years. Consider the following points for the different material of picnic tables.

Metal Picnic Tables

metal picnic tables

Metal picnic tables
are strong and sturdy without requiring much maintenance. Make sure you select a finish that will extend the life of your picnic table, such as the ultra-tough thermoplastic finishes.

Look for metal tables with rounded edges to keep the seats and tables comfortable for guests. You may also want to consider the perforated tops with holes in them to allow rain water to slide through.

These tables come in a variety of colors, allowing you to match school colors or the current look and feel at your facility.


Recycled Plastic Picnic Tables

recycled plastic picnic tables

Recycled plastic picnic tables
are a new, popular option. That’s because they can have the appearance of wood, without the required maintenance and upkeep. They can also come in different colorful options as well. These tables are made from recycled plastic scraps, helping you qualify for LEED points to keep your facility green and also showing customers that you prioritize the well-being of the environment.


Wood Picnic Tables

wood picnic tables

While wood picnic tables do require annual maintenance, there are factors you can prioritize to find wooden tables that are longer lasting. Make sure the lumber is high quality—this will help it last longer. You will also need to check that the frame is hot-dipped and galvanized, because that will help the frame maintain its strength. Wooden picnic tables are a classic option if you are wanting a rustic look, or a table that matches your existing furniture. Their cost is generally lower than some of the more durable alternatives.


Concrete Picnic Tables

concrete picnic tables

Concrete picnic tables are the king when it comes to durability, making them perfect for seaside climates. Reinforced with a solid steel frame before getting molded into shape, concrete tables are ultra strong and durable. The heavy weight of concrete tables makes them naturally protected against vandalism and theft. However, they are more expensive and also very heavy and difficult to move.

The tables are typically colored permanently using inorganic pigments. Then, concrete tables are protected with an acrylic sealing. Some tables are finished with a polished concrete top or seats to give it a finished and smooth look. Most have concrete legs, but you can also select a concrete tabletop with metal legs.

 Aluminum Picnic Tables

aluminum picnic tables
Aluminum picnic tables
are great for harsh environments that may be too rough for other tables. They are resistant to corrosion and usually have a clear coat.

Make sure the connecting hardware and frame are all high-quality, to keep your table long lasting. While you probably picture the classic silver aluminum picnic tables, there are actually many colors available, including some that are brown and resemble wood.

There are also picnic tables made from PVC plastic, PVC vinyl picnic tables are about as light as a picnic table can be. The more solid tables have wooden inserts to reinforce the structure and keep them sturdy and long-lasting. PVC vinyl tables are maintenance free, and can be reinforced with a matching or aluminum frame. Look for PVC tables with Titanium Dioxide, a protectant against UV rays.

What Shape and Style Should I Select?

So you’ve found the type of table that’s right for you. But what about the shape and style of your picnic table? Selecting the wrong shape can lead to limited seating and discomfort. Remember that your guests likely have groups of different sizes, large and small. Accommodate all groups with a variety of picnic tables catering to all.

family at picnic table

Family sitting at picnic table


When your guests are happy and comfortable, they will remember that feeling and return to visit you again. That’s why it’s key to carefully select a shape and style of picnic table that is inclusive to all.

Rectangular table: These come in 6-foot or 8-foot lengths, allowing for plenty of welcoming seating for large families.

Square table: Designed for smaller groups, this table allows guests to easily see everyone at the table without needing to uncomfortably turn their head down a long rectangular table. The standard size is 46 inches, although they can come in a variety of lengths.

Round table: Similar to the square table in its usual 46-inch size, the round table offers rounded seating for a welcoming feel.

Umbrella table: Most sizes and types of tables can come with a hole in the middle of the tabletop to hold an umbrella. Sometimes they come standard, but you may also need to request the manufacturer to cut the hole for you. If the tables will be used in the summertime, especially in warmer climates, it’s definitely a feature to consider adding.


Kid's picnic tables

Kid's picnic tables

Kid’s picnic table: It can be dangerous for children to sit on tall picnic tables that are too high for them to step down. If your facility welcomes plenty of children, ensure their safety and comfort with a kid's picnic table matching their size. They can come in most shapes and sizes, and can have colorful seats and tabletops to make them look inviting for young children. Just make sure you get a thermoplastic coating or perforated metal picnic table. Kids are messy, and a solid coating will make the tables easy to clean and maintain.

ada picnic tables

ADA compliant picnic tables

ADA-compliant table: No matter what type of park or facility you run, there’s a good chance that guests young and old will visit you in their wheelchairs. That’s why it is critical to install several ADA picnic tables that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Typically, rectangle, square, round, and most other types of tables come with a similar version that meets ADA compliance. Sometimes that means the table tops are lengthened past the seats to provide room for a wheelchair at the end. Other tables may be missing a seat to allow wheelchairs to join the table.

The Finishing Touch – Types of Finishes

When selecting finishes for steel picnic tables, you have several excellent options to consider, depending on what you need. Both finishes give the tables a clean look similar to a new coat of paint.


Powder coat: Powder coatings are electrostatically-applied to steel frames and occasionally tabletops. Once they are heated and fused into a smooth coating onto the steel, the steel is cured in an oven. It’s used in a variety of products and is known for durability and giving a smooth finish.


Thermoplastic: Polyethylene thermoplastic is an extremely durable finish that makes cleaning your picnic tables easy since it repels grime and spills and offers excellent protection for the table. After the steel is dipped into polyethylene, it dries to create a thick, smooth protective finish. It is also resistant to harsh environmental conditions, helping your picnic tables withstand a brutal summer heat or frigid winter freeze.


Picnic Table Installation Options

picnic table installation options

Picnic table installation options

It’s natural to overlook your installation options and just choose the easiest choice. However, careful installation is your biggest deterrent for theft. If you simply place your picnic tables without securing them, it is highly likely they will get stolen or flipped over in a bad rainstorm.

Portable Installation

Screw in surface clamps that span across the legs of your table. These clamps will hold the table in place and serve as a simple preventative for theft, but they probably won’t provide much long-term protection as they can easily be unscrewed. However, portable installation is an excellent pick if you know you will be moving and re-installing your picnic tables, since it makes this process simple.

Surface Installation

Some picnic tables have legs that come with space for physically mounting the table to the surface. This is ideal if you’re installing the table at a facility with existing concrete.

In-ground Installation

If your park or facility is new or pouring new concrete, in-ground installation is the way to go. It involves pouring the concrete around the legs of the picnic table. This is easily the most secure option as it requires thieves to dig into the concrete if they want to steal the table without destroying it. Unfortunately, it does not allow for much mobility.


 Don’t Forget the Park Grills

park grills
Park grills are in demand now more than ever from growth of barbecuing in America

Packing a picnic to the park has a different meaning now. It used to denote sandwiches or pre-cooked foods, but bringing uncooked foods in a cooler and cooking them on the park grills is becoming a more common occurrence.

 Of course, anyone who has worked a park’s charcoal grill knows that you can quickly end up with your hands full. Between the spatula, seasonings, several plates, and other tools, it’s easy to feel like you need a few more hands.

 Here’s a tip for you: make sure you place your park grills near picnic tables. It provides a little storage for those working the grill. Of course, it’s also natural that these grills will get more use since they are spotted by those sitting at your picnic tables. Next time your guests come back, they will remember the grills are easily accessible and probably cook up some hot food right there at the park.


Other Location Concerns

Besides placing your picnic tables near park grills, selecting the ideal location also includes these considerations:

  • Is it accessible? Make sure your tables are nearby easy gathering areas, like your company’s patio or walking paths at your park.
  • Are trash receptacles close? Bringing a picnic to the park can generate a lot of trash. Ensure you provide your guests with maintained trash and recycling receptacles to help prevent litter.
  • Is it shaded? By strategically installing your picnic tables near trees, you can keep guests shaded during the hottest time of day in the summer.
  • Is it private? While you want your tables to be easily accessible, your guests will also appreciate privacy. If your facility caters to big groups like family reunions, place the picnic tables in groups with space between the groups of tables. If your groups can usually fit within one table, spread out the picnic tables so the small groups can have private conversations without feeling crowded.


Key Takeaways Checklist

Sometimes information overload can leave you feeling more confused. Use this simple checklist comprising much of the information in this document to help you shop for picnic tables easily.


  • Am I looking for low maintenance? If so, metal picnic tables with a thick thermoplastic coating, recycled plastic tables or aluminum tables are good options.
  • Do I want a picnic table that is sturdy and immovable? Go with concrete.
  • Do I want a picnic table that is easy to move to different locations? Aluminum is very light. Metal picnic tables are portable as well.
  • What colors or materials will match my facility’s current picnic tables?
  • Should I include special options like ADA-compliant or kid's picnic tables?
  • How many people are in the groups that visit my facility? Should I get larger or smaller capacity picnic tables?
  • How secure should my picnic tables be?
  • Where should I install my picnic tables?
  • Should I include park grills nearby?


As you carefully consider what will make your guests most comfortable, it will be easy to pick the perfect picnic tables that will keep them coming back to your facility.

 three female friends at a picnic table making a toast

Three female friends at a picnic table making a toast



“Healthy Workplaces: The Effects of Nature Contact at Work on Employee Stress and Health.” Erin Largo-Wight, PhD. Public Health Rep. 2011; 126(Suppl 1): 124–130.

“Why You Should Take Your Work Outdoors.” Lisa Evans. Entrepreneur.

“How to Maintain a Wooden Picnic Table.” Jessica Lietz. SF Gate. http://homeguides.sfgate.com/maintain-wooden-picnic-table-84916.html

“Eight Great Break Room Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank.” Robert Caston. The Park Catalog.

“Picnic Table Coatings Now More Advanced to Deter Vandalism.” Gerald Dlubala. The Park Catalog.



About the Park Catalog

The Park and Facilities Catalog is headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla. The company is a national manufacturer and provider of park picnic tables, school picnic tables and commercial picnic tables. Our selection includes metal, recycled plastic, concrete, wooden and aluminum picnic tables.  These sturdy and durable commercial-grade products are available in a large array of colors and protective coatings including our proprietary SealGuard(c) finish. With our ParkExpress program, we have picnic tables in stock that can ship in just 1 day.

Since 2001, we have supplied top quality picnic tables to parks, schools, universities, restaurants, stores, malls, shopping centers, multi-family communities across the United States. The company is also a distributor of additional site furnishings such as park benches, bike racks, trash receptacles, aluminum bleachers and hundreds of other items.

CALL US TODAY AT 1-800-695-3503 for a free catalog of commercial picnic tables or visit our website: https://www.theparkcatalog.com/picnic-tables