Picnic Table Modifications
It’s easy to modify this picnic table to different dimensions. I do recommend working with your materials to minimize waste – for example, if you want a 5 foot long picnic table, simply purchase 10 foot long 2x6s (for the seat and top) and cut in half.
You will need some center support if your 2×6 seat and tabletop boards span more than about 4 feet with no support underneath – so maybe keep that in mind before building a 12 foot long table.
Picnic Table Building Materials
I recommend building this table out of cedar or other outdoor appropriate materials that are popular in your local area for building decks. If you do use common lumber, I recommend painting or staining.
I do not recommend using treated lumber for the tabletop or seats (as these areas come in contact with food). A good compromise is to use treated lumber for the legs and supports, and untreated for the tabletop and seats.
Finishing Your Picnic Table
The picnic table should be painted or stained how you would paint or stain your deck – with consideration for food contact. If you are building with cedar, no finish is required, but the table will turn grey from the sun.
If you are using paint or a “film forming” finish like polyurethane that sits on top of the wood, make sure you seal every side of each board. If water penetrates the wood, it will cause the wood to swell, make the wood bigger, and causing the paint or polyurethane to crack and peel. The best way to seal every edge of every board is to prefinish before assembly.
My favorite option is to use an exterior penetrating stain to finish, as it soaks into the wood (instead of sitting on top of the wood like paint). This is more forgiving, but will need to be re applied every 3-5 years, depending on the brand and your local elements.
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