DIY Picnic Table that you can build in a day!
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Building a Picnic Table in One Day

When we were getting our yard ready for spring, we took a trip to our local landscaping center to look at their plants.

On their patio, they had an array of beautiful outdoor furniture. Eileen sat down at a picnic table she liked, looked at the price (a very high $450), and said to me, “I bet you could make this.”

I nodded, thinking about all of the creative things Eileen and our son do in our yard, like having backyard picnics, bubble-making, and painting.

Having a DIY picnic table in the middle of the backyard would be perfect.

Plus, I’m always up for a good woodworking project.

how to build a DIY picnic table from composite deckingResearching Picnic Table Plans

I did some research online for how to build a picnic table and ended up choosing the first one that came up – PopularMechanics.com.

It seemed simple to construct and the design plans were of a high caliber. The best part was that this picnic table plan called for using composite decking for the tabletop and seats.

This eliminated any concerns I had about having to use pressure-treated wood in close proximity to foods, or having to spend time staining or sealing the surface of the DIY picnic table.

Cleaning the composite decking on the picnic table would be a cinch too. It was a little more expensive than using real wood, but it was worth it.

The rest of the wooden picnic table (legs and supports) would be regular pressure-treated wood, so costs would still be low overall.

The specifics of how to build a picnic table is outlined pretty well in the source website, so I’ll just recap my picnic table building experience.

Overall, it was quite a fun project to work on, and best of all, I accomplished it all on a Saturday (albeit a long Saturday from morning to night).

DIY Picnic Table Material Order

I printed out the materials list from the website, and then I placed order on Lowes’ website for in-store pickup.

I normally don’t like doing store pickup for lumber because you are at the mercy of whatever employee is selecting your wood.

This usually means a random assortment of quality, with crowning knotty boards.

Money-Saving Tips

However, I found an awesome deal on eBay for multiple $15 off $50 Lowes coupons, and they were valid online only.

Using an Excel spreadsheet, I distributed all the materials across 4 separate orders to total just over $50 each.

​Then I purchased 4 of the coupons on eBay for a mere $4 (coupon codes were emailed to me immediately after purchase) and placed four Lowes store pickup orders. Just $4 on eBay saved me $60. Not bad! The Lowes guys didn’t mind when I went to pick up the order either.

Here’s my car full of wood after the lumber excursion to Lowes (ignore the concrete and the pipes – they are for an upcoming shade sail project):

Fitting Everything for the DIY composite Picnic Table in the Car

I did have to get some wood cut in the store for the picnic table. I ordered several 12 ft pieces of composite decking and I knew that wouldn’t fit in my car.

So I had an employee cut them in half for me. Having the store cut your wood is convenient, but it’s not always worth it.

Their cuts aren’t that accurate, and sometimes you have to wait a while to get help.

Additionally, there seems to be a trend starting in stores to charge you for too many cuts.

Always thinking of how I can save money, I brought a measuring tape and a handsaw in case I decided to cut the picnic table wood myself in the parking lot.

As it turned out, a thunderstorm appeared out of the blue when I got to Lowes, so that forced my hand and I had to have them cut it for me. They usually charge 75 cents for the cuts, but they waived it.

How to Build a Picnic Table

The first step in my how to build a picnic table project was to cut all the wood. So when I got home, I spent an hour cutting all the wood according to the plans. This hard work resulted in the picture below.

​Doesn’t it look like a kit just waiting to be put together?

Organizing wood for building a DIY picnic table from 2x4s and composite deckingThe next step in building a picnic table is to put together the picnic table’s legs:

Putting together the legs on the DIY picnic table made from 2x4s and composite decking

Here comes the tabletop support:

Assembling the tabletop on the homemade DIY picnic table

Next up was the pair of seat supports for the DIY picnic table:

How to Build an outdoor DIY Picnic Table from 2x4 and composite decking

Here are the five pieces of the picnic table project that would soon come together to form the table’s skeleton:

how to build a homemade DIY picnic tableI clamped some of the pieces together and picnic table project was now three dimensional:

Using 2x4x and composite decking to build an outdoor DIY picnic table with attached seating

With the seat supports attached, it was starting to look like a picnic table now:

how to make a DIY picnic table from 2x4s and composite decking

Here I used a diagonal support beam to prevent the picnic table’s legs from shifting inwards:

Building the tabletop for the outdoor diy picnic table

Here I had to reinforce the structure with some 3.5″ galvanized carriage bolts to support the weight of people and tabletop loads:

how to make a homemade DIY picnic table from composite decking and 2x4x in one weekend

It wasn’t too early to take the DIY picnic table for a test drive.  Here I am taking a break from the work:

Building a DIY picnic table from 2x4s and composite decking - cost, materials, and tutorial

Finally, the crowning moment of the project came when I attached the composite decking on the DIY picnic table.

I highly recommend using a countersinking bit for pre-drilling the holes for the deck.  I believe they make special screws for composite wood, but I didn’t have any.

At first, I used regular deck screws, and without a countersink bit, they did not look good after the head penetrated the wood.

Unlike real wood that compresses under the screw head, the composite material made a really ugly blemish on the surface.

​After trial and error, I found the countersink bit did a wonderful job carving out a notch for the screws.

composite decking picnic table in gray - full tutorial with materials and cost

I used my router and a round-over bit to smooth/bevel  the edges of the deck wood:

how to build a picnic table from composite decking

Finally I completed the DIY picnic table. Eileen helped me move it into the backyard. It was extremely heavy, but that was just a testament to its quality.

Here’s what the picnic table looks like in its element (notice our garden planter and rain barrel in the background).

building a composite decking picnic table

The total cost of this professional quality DIY picnic table ran us $140, but that’s after a $60 discount via the $4 eBay coupons.

I estimate a pre-built picnic table of this quality would have cost a few hundred dollars in the store and even more at the landscaping stores!

If you are thinking about buying a new picnic table for your yard, instead learn how to build a picnic table with these plans and tips. We are absolutely loving the DIY picnic table, especially the composite tabletop. ​

Our DIY picnic table is already getting a lot of use and is sure to be a hit at our next BBQ.

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54 Comments

  1. Thanks, Christine! It was so easy to make! The top is actually the color that the composite deck came in. They had a variety of colors to choose from but we loved that one!

  2. I really like your design here. It looks sturdy. Its just the plan I’ve been looking for to build for a good friend that asked me if I knew of a sturdy design for a picnic table.
    Great job and I enjoy reading your blog.
    Big Bubba.

  3. You make it look so easy!! Thanks for sharing on the Pleasures of the NW’s DIY Party!

  4. The fact that u guys can do this in a day is mind boggling. The fact that you can do a project with your husband without clocking him with one of those two by fours…equally amazing!

    1. Thanks Sherry! It wasn’t too bad of a build – and it came together very quickly. Will do – thanks!

  5. Wow! I am super impressed. My hubby is very good with wood projects but we’ve never tackled an outdoor table. The back of your van does look like lots of times when we’ve come home from one of the big box stores! Thanks for sharing at Over the Moon.

    1. Aww thanks so much, Shelley! Since your husband is good with wood projects, I’m sure he would do a great job! 🙂 We are happy to help if you have questions. Haha – Ash keeps trying to trade in my sudan for a pick-up truck, but I won’t let him since we always (somehow) get everything in the van 🙂 Have a great week!

  6. Looks lovely! We have an old picnic table that is falling apart and seriously needs replacing. At this point I think the paint is holding it together. Definitely pinning this page for when it’s finally time to make a new one.

    1. Thanks, Joanne! Hahah we have furniture like that too! We have an old wooden swing that needs a total replacement. It’s hard to get everything checked off the to do list 🙂 Thanks for pinning!

  7. Such a great project – you’ll all get so much use out of it ? Thanks for sharing at To Grandmas House We Go!

    1. Thanks so much Kate! We love it! We have a great little shady spot in the middle of our yard – and it’s perfect for picnics or coloring 🙂 Have a great week:)

  8. One of our picnic tables is at least 35 years old and has seen it’s better days. This would be a great project for my husband. I hope he thinks so too!

  9. very impressive and yes, great for doing activities with kids out doors, good for you! thanks for sharing on craft schooling sunday. Just by the way, I once had a similar table that actually folded up to become a 2 seater outdoor couch, a very hand piece to have in the yard as well!

    1. Oh Sara, I love that idea!! I’ll have to add that to Ash’s list! I love when furniture is versatile like that 🙂 Have a great week – thanks for the party!

  10. A wonderful project, I think everyone would like that in their backyard. Nice job well done.
    Kathleen
    Blogger’s Pit Stop

    1. Thanks Kathleen! We have been enjoying it! It’s nice to have outdoor furniture that can stay out all year, so when we have random warm days we have a place to sit 🙂 have a great week!

  11. What a fantastic job! I wish we had the time and tools to make a table like this with composite decking. We’re on our second cheap wood picnic table, and they are such a pain to paint and stain each year! Thanks again for sharing at the #happynowlinkup!

    1. Aww thanks Leslie! You could totally do it:) Ash has taught himself everything he knows:) have a great week!

  12. Oh my! This post has bought back so many wonderful memories! My family and I had a picnic table just like this on our back patio and boy did we have some fun times sitting there with family BBQs, game nights etc. I have always thought about trying to make one and now your super helpful tutorial has inspired me to!
    Thank you so much for sharing your fabulous tutorial over at Waste Not Wednesday 🙂

    1. Aww Sam, thanks so much!! It’s amazing the memories that come back! You’ve inspired me too to create memories like that with our family:) thanks again and have a great week!

  13. Great tutorial, I’m definitely pinning this for a summer project this year! Thanks so much for sharing it at Fridays Furniture Fix!

  14. That turned out great Ash, I’m sure you guys are going to be making so many memories around your new picnic table, it’s lovely

  15. This is wonderful! What a great job you did on the table. Thanks for showing your process. I’ve seen tutorials such as the one you followed at Popular Mechanics, but then I’ve wondered if regular people are able to follow them. Obviously the answer is yes!
    Thank you for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

    1. Thanks so much, Richella! Yes, the plans worked out so well. It was an easy build and such a nice addition to our yard! We are looking forward to the warm weather so we can enjoy it again! Thanks SO much for the feature!! Have a great week!

    1. Thanks so much Theresa! We loved using it last summer – now if only the weather would get nicer:)

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