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How to Stain a Picnic Table

Written by Andrew

June 6, 2020

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New day, new project, today it’s staining a picnic table. We got it as a hand me down from our family and it has sat out in the yard for several years. This caused one of the braces to wither away and rot, which is why you need to know how to stain a deck, after it was fixed we knew that we needed to get it done. If you are wondering how to stain a picnic table this post is for you. Since we have stain left over from restaining our deck we moved on to the next project, our weathered old picnic table.  If you are ready to tackle this project here you go.

What you will need to stain your picnic table.

Here is everything you need to stain your picnic table

You can use our free home renovation budget template to assess how much your project will cost you and keep track of things. 

Step 1: Prepping the Picnic Table to Stain

Inspect your picnic table for rotten boards

Before you stain your picnic table you will need to inspect it and see if there are any boards that need to be fixed. You’ll also want to take note of any other fixing that needs to take place like screws sticking out. Loose boards and splinters sticking out are a good sign to remove the board and replace it. Also make sure to check the braces underneath the table, just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t rotting.

 

Clean the Wood of Debris

Once you have all your material and replaced the boards you will need to clean the wood. Grab your pressure washer (I use this Karcher model). You will want to give it a good spray and leave it for a few days to dry out.

Ok so we didn’t have the time so we skipped this step (in case you are wondering if you can stain a picnic table without cleaning it).

Sand the Picnic Table

Next you will want to sand the picnic table and get rid of any imperfections that you find.

There were a bunch of splinters, dust and other things on it so giving it a good sanding was worthwhile. Plus it didn’t take too long. I would say this table took less than 30 minutes to do. We used this palm sander and 80 grit paper, it did the job nicely.

You can see how a board of our picnic table looked before and after sanding. The bottom is sanded and you can see a big difference in the wood.

picnic table before and after sanding

Step 2: Staining the Picnic Table

Staining Underneath the Picnic Table

We have a great tip for staining a picnic table, flip it. This was a genius idea (meaning someone else told me) and it is so obvious but I would have missed it.

By flipping it upside down we were able to stain the under side of it way easier than it would have been had we been on our backs on the ground trying to cover everything. When you are doing this make sure that you are getting all the hard to reach and areas you can’t see. Depending on what kind of picnic table you have it could have a lot of nooks to stain. So double check before you are done the under side of the picnic table.

Here is what the underside of the picnic table looked like when it was fully stained.

staining underneath the picnic table

As you can see we skipped the drop cloths. Big mistake! There were pieces of grass everywhere and we really should have used it, not to mention we got stain on the grass too.

Flip the Picnic Table Over and Stain the Top

Next you will want to stain the top of the picnic table and apply the stain evenly over the whole surface. Make sure to to cover the whole area. This wood was really dry and soaked up nearly a full gallon of stain on it’s own. When you are buying stain ask the clerk if you can return any of the unopened ones. We used the Cloverdale Teak Sharkskin paint and it’s great! The water beads up and it cover really well.

staining picnic table before and after

Step 3: Let the Stain Dry

Once you are done you simply need to let the stain dry for a few hours or a day, depending on the instructions you have for your stain. This one said you could reapply in 3-4 hours but we will leave it for now.

Final Thoughts on How to Stain a Picnic Table

After we were done staining the picnic table we were kicking ourselves. We let this job feel like it was enormous and left it for YEARS! Somehow we made it to be bigger in our minds than it actually was. If you have a picnic table that needs to be restained or refinished I would strongly recommend that you go and do it. You will make so much more use out of a table when you have it in peak condition.

Next up it’s restaining our bench.

Bonus Staining a Picnic Table Before and After Photos

 

after restaining picnic table before restaining a picnic table

 

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