Picnic tables are quintessential pieces of outdoor furniture. Although plastic, wicker and glass combinations are now considered ‘modern,’ the down home purist will not give up the wood picnic table. Learn what type of paint to use when painting a picnic table and more.
Clean and Sand the Wood Picnic Table (estimated time: one to two days)
Materials needed: Wire brush, sander, coarse and fine grit sandpaper, garden hose and water
Picnic tables that face the elements on a daily basis tend to build up some grime, maybe also feature bird droppings and of course become home to a number of critters. Remove live insects carefully and then use the wire brush to clean off any dirt, debris and flaking paint.
Start with the coarse sandpaper, and give the table a once over. For picnic tables that were previously painted, removal or roughing of the old coat of paint is a must. Smooth out the table with fine grit paper. Hose down the wood picnic table with water to remove saw dust. Let it air-dry in the sun for a day or two (depending on weather conditions).
Tip: Check the structural integrity of the table. If it needs a bit of strengthening or requires some new screws or nails, make any repairs before hosing it down.
Choose the Right Type of Paint to Use When Painting Picnic Table Furniture
Materials needed: Primer, exterior paint, top coat
A wood picnic table is exposed to the rays of the sun and if you enjoy vibrant colors, acrylic paint is a must. It adheres well to exterior wood, expands and contracts sufficiently to handle weather changes, scoffs at mildew and even allows interior moisture to vent without damaging the coat. That being said, it does show more wear and tear than latex with a polyurethane finish.
No matter which type of paint you use when painting the picnic table, be sure to apply primer first. XIM’s Peel Bond is an excellent choice especially if the wood picnic table is cracked, old or has suffered a lot of weathering.
Tip: Make sure to have ample paint stirrers on hand. Frequent mixing while painting the picnic table avoids darker patches.
Tips for Painting a Picnic Table: Shade, Calm Weather and Lots of Time
Material needed: Primer, paint, paint brushes, drop cloth
Spread out the drop cloth in the shade. Even though you need ample light when painting picnic tables, doing so in the shade makes it easier to see missed spots. A calm day cuts down on the amount of debris that might be blown onto the wet paint.
Haul the wood picnic table onto the drop cloth and turn it upside down. Apply the primer and let it dry. Turn over the table and apply the primer to the top. Once again, let the table dry. Turn it over again and paint the underside with your chosen paint. After drying, apply a second coat if needed. Turn the table right side up and paint the top; add a second coat and/or top coat. Let it dry for 24 to 48 hours prior to using it for the first time.
Myth: Most anyone will suggest in their tips for painting a picnic table to start on the top and work your way down. Following my suggestion will take longer, but it also allows you to a) familiarize yourself with the flow of the paint and make mistakes in an area nobody ever sees and b) avoid drops, spills and smudges on a finished surface that everyone sees (while trying to move the table to get to each crevice).
Suggestion: Why not paint on place-mats? Use a stencil on the finished top or do it free-hand if you feel artistic.