Wood Picnic Table Makeover

I have been in the midst of a backyard refresh for the last few months since the Kailo Chic studio was completed. The trenching for the plumbing and electrical in the studio ravaged the backyard. We are slowly but surely pulling it back together and creating a lounge space next to the studio. One of my recent projects for the space was this wood picnic table makeover.

Wood Picnic Table Makeover

As one always looking for a bargain, I knew I needed a large table to fill this outdoor space, but I just couldn’t spend upwards of $1500 for two of my favorite modern picnic tables. So I grabbed two $99 picnic tables from the hardware store and with a little sanding and staining, turned the wood picnic tables into modern tables that look so much pricier than the $99 price tag!

Picnic Table: Before and After

Wood Picnic Table Makeover

Just look at the original (on the left) compared to the white washed and stained picnic table.

Such an amazing and simple wood picnic table makeover, don’t you think?!

The process is really pretty simple and only a few tools are needed. I opted for the preassembled tables (the price was the same) and cut even more time off this DIY.

Supplies for a wood picnic table makeover:

Wood Picnic Table Makeover
Wood Picnic Table Makeover

The first step in turning these cheap treated pine picnic tables into expensive looking tables is sanding. I can’t emphasize enough how much sanding really makes a difference in these tables.

Wood Picnic Table Makeover

How to sand picnic tables


If you have ever looked at the $99 pine picnic tables at Lowe’s or Home Depot, then you know they aren’t made with the best wood. They have knots, jagged edges, and potential splinters everywhere.

I began by giving the table top and bench tops a good sanding with the 100 grit paper, and then the 160 grit paper. You can sand it down even further if you wish. However, I found the 160 grit did a fine job at making the table top smooth and splinter free.

Sanding the picnic tables is a time consuming part of the process, but the smoothness of the top and sides of the picnic table are well worth the effort and help make the table look polished and expensive.

To save time I skipped sanding the legs and supports of the table. Since those will be stained black and won’t have body parts touching them, I didn’t worry about them being smooth and sanded.

Wood Picnic Table Makeover

How to stain picnic tables

Once the table was sanded, I used the black gel stain and paint brush to brush the stain on the legs and supports of the wood picnic table. The can says to rub off the extra stain after 15 minutes, but I wanted the wood dark, so I left it on overnight so that most of it absorbed into the wood.

Once the black stain was on, it was time to white wash the table top and bench tops. I used solid color fence stain in white that I had leftover from painting my fence. I diluted it in a one part water to one part stain ratio. Then brushed it on with a clean paint brush and immediately rubbed off the stain with an old towel. This process was done in small sections across at a time to avoid the stain soaking in too much.

I still wanted the wood grain to show through, but I wanted to tone down the yellow color of the treated pine and give it a more neutral white tone. Plus the stain works as a moisture barrier so there is no need to seal the wood.

Picnic table after stain

All in all this project cost me $216 for the two tables (I had the paint brushes, white stain, and sander already). Now that is a budget friendly wood picnic table makeover!

I can’t wait for the weather to warm up a bit more so I can add some new plants around the fence line and finish the space.

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