Best Wood to Make a Picnic Table (5 Good Types of Wood)

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Everyone loves picnic tables and the camaraderie that they bring as friends and family gather around them outdoors. We tend to think of a picnic table as a rough version of a dining room table. However, there is much more to a picnic table than meets the eye.

You can get picnic tables for different materials. While wood is one of the most popular preferences, you can get them made of other materials like metal, high-density polyurethane (HDPE), and even concrete. In this post, we highlight the various types of wood that you can use to make picnic tables.

Picnic table in the field
Picnic table in the field (Image: VMonte13)

Best Types of Wood for Picnic Tables

Although you may like to make or buy a wooden picnic table, all wood does not make good picnic tables. For instance, pinewood is a poor choice for a picnic table as it lacks durability, and you can’t clean spills easily from its surface.

Therefore, taking pinewood as an example, most softwoods do not make suitable picnic tables. Hence, hardwood becomes the preferred choice. Let’s take a good look at some of the popular hardwoods that we use for making picnic tables:

White Oak

Box of 3/4" Thick Boards - White Oak
White Oak Wood (Amazon)

This variety of wood has a natural resistance to rot, insect attack, and moisture. However, with a suitable finish, white oak will give you many good years of use. You have the option to either paint or varnish this wood for additional protection and good looks. It tends to split when being nailed; hence you need to select the nail sizes appropriately.

Salient Features Of White Oak

  • Appearance: Medium to light brown
  • Durability: Durable wood
  • Hardness: 1,360 (Janka hardness)
  • Density: 770(103 Kg/M3)
  • Workability: Shows a beautiful finish with a bit of machining
  • Cost: Moderately-priced to expensive

Spanish Cedar

Outdoor Living Today Western Red Cedar Picnic Table
Spanish Cedar Picnic Table (Amazon)

The name of this wood can be misleading because it neither comes from Spain nor is it cedar. We could consider Spanish Cedar more of a type of Mahogany and it comes from Ghana, Africa.

It is versatile, very light, and well-suited wood for outdoor furniture. This wood has a straight, fine grain, takes nails readily, and glues together well. It weathers well, and you can enhance its durability with a suitable finish.

Salient Features Of Spanish Cedar

  • Appearance: Pinkish to reddish-brown
  • Durability: Fairly durable
  • Hardness: 600 (Janka hardness)
  • Density: 26 (lbs/Sq. Ft.)
  • Workability: Soft, easy to cut, and drive nails into. Glues well.
  • Cost: Low to moderate price range


Jack & June Circular Redwood Picnic Table
Redwood Picnic Table (Amazon)

Redwood had some bad publicity due to over-logging, but today, the situation is better, and the wood is back. This type of wood is pursued thanks to its color and durability. It scratches and dents easily, so you need to apply for a suitable finish. Also, if not sealed properly, the wood tends to exude a red pigment. It can stain those who sit on redwood furniture. Because it is its exceptional resistance to weather, redwood serves as an excellent material for making picnic tables.

Salient Features Of Redwood

  • Appearance: Reddish-brown
  • Durability: Highly durable
  • Hardness: 402 (Janka hardness)
  • Density: 450-850 (103 Kg/M3)
  • Workability: Easy to cut, drill and machine
  • Cost: Fairly expensive to highly-expensive

Douglas Fir

2 in. x 4 in. Construction Douglas Fir Board Stud Wood Lumber - Custom Length 5ft
Douglas Fir Wood. (Amazon)

This hard and durable softwood makes good picnic tables. Douglas fir comes from the west coast and Eastern Asia. Because it takes paint well, you can either paint it or apply a finish, if you want to retain the natural look of the wood. This wood comes cheap, so you end up with a durable but affordable variety of wood.

Salient Features Of Douglas Fir

  • Appearance: Light brown to reddish or yellowish-brown
  • Durability: Rot-resistant to some extent but prone to insect attack
  • Hardness: 660 (Janka hardness)
  • Density: 0.3 (103 Kg/M3)
  • Workability: Cuts and drills easily but tends to make blades blunt
  • Cost: Moderately expensive to reasonably-priced

Teak Natural Teak Folding Picnic Side Table
Natural teak folding picnic table (Amazon)

As teak is as durable as it is attractive, it enjoys wide popularity in making furniture. Hence, it is no wonder that it serves well for picnic tables. However, there are some grades of teak that cost a lot. Hence, you would have to give it some thought to use it for making a picnic table. However, teak has a reasonable level of natural weather resistance, as well as resistance to rod and decay. It even produces natural oil that repels insects.

Salient Features Of Teak

  • Appearance: Dark brown or golden brown
  • Durability: Highly durable
  • Hardness: 2,330 (Janka hardness)
  • Density: 0.65-0.98 (103 Kg/M3)
  • Workability: Quite easy to work with
  • Cost: One of the costliest kinds of wood


Considerations To Make For A Good Picnic Table

Picnic table with a view
Picnic table with a view (Image: 272447)

Here are a few considerations that you would do well to make while planning to build or buy a picnic table:

Budget Considerations

If you are going to spend money on a good picnic table, you want it to be worth it.

Should Be Durable

If left to the elements, the table should not deteriorate.

Visual Aspect

Your picnic table should look good even after being left out for a few years.

Comfort Level

You should feel comfortable when you sit at the table.

Maintenance Matters

You will need to do some basic maintenance. Hence, consider the work involved to keep your picnic table in prime condition.

Level Surfaces

The surfaces of a picnic table should be flat enough to support glasses, plates, and all other accessories.

Should Not Be Too Heavy

A good picnic table is one that has most or all of the above attributes and is easy to move around. For instance, when the area has to be cleared for mowing the lawn.



Any of the types of wood we have featured above have the potential of making good picnic tables. Not that these are the only varieties – there are several more. However, you can take any of the above types of wood and create some nice projects in picnic tables.

Once you know what you need to include while making a picnic table and the kind of wood you require, half your job is done. Then, if you aren’t able to get the specific types of wood mentioned here, you can surely select a local variety that is available. You just need to ensure that the wood that you choose meets the requirements that we have discussed here.


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