How to Refinish a Wooden Picnic Table
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How to Refinish a Wooden Picnic Table in 4 Easy Steps

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Learn how to refinish a wooden picnic table in 4 easy steps with this DIY tutorial!

Do you have an old wooden picnic table that is peeling, cracking, or fading? The first outdoor furniture we bought was a large 7 ft wooden picnic table from a local Amish man, and let’s just say I have refinished it more than once over the last 10 years.

This tutorial is perfect for any wooden outdoor furniture. It is not difficult and with a little sweat equity will transform your furniture to look like new!

Let’s check it out!

For more outdoor DIY ideas be sure to check out:

    How to Refinish a Wooden Picnic Table in 4 Easy Steps

    Once upon a time there was a 7 ft wooden picnic table that was beautiful and new.

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    Look how pretty it is here.  We got so much use out of it at our first fixer-upper.

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    Then we moved to our second fixer upper, the Colonial foreclosure (check out that story here), and it got even more use on the stained concrete patio I designed.

    How to Refinish a Wooden Picnic Table

    And by the time we moved to our third fixer upper (the French Country Cottage), it looked so worn and dilapidated that it was begging for a makeover (aren’t we all).

    How to Refinish a Wooden Picnic Table
    How to Refinish a Wooden Picnic Table

    It was peeling, rotting, cracking . . . #allthethings.

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    And the benches  told the same sad story.

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    Let’s get to work!

     

    How to Refinish a Wooden Picnic Table in 4 Easy Steps

    You will need:

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    I used Cabot Gold Sunlit Walnut, but I have also used Sun-Drenched Oak which is a really pretty lighter stain.   The advantage to this particular brand is that it has a polished finish built into it specifically for decks and outdoor furniture.

    How to Refinish a Wooden Picnic Table in 4 Easy Steps

    #1.  Sand the top of the table and the benches.

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    Use the 60 grit sanding discs first to strip the peeling finish.

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    Follow that with the 120 grit sanding disc so it is smooth to the touch.

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    The top of the table and the benches should feel soft and smooth to touch.  Don’t forget to sand the sides of the table and bench tops!

    I rarely sand the bottom of tables and benches when I redo them.  It’s a bother, and frankly, you can hardly tell the difference unless you are on your hands and knees picking up all the crumbs from your messy children.  And at that point I’m more bothered by the fact that I have such messy children.

    How to Refinish a Wooden Picnic Table in 4 Easy Steps

    #2.  Stain the bottom of the table and benches first and then the top.

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    A couple pointers here.

    First, make sure the bottoms are really clean.  Use a shop vac or a bristled brush to make sure the dirt and grime are off the bottom.  I don’t bother sanding, but I do make sure they are very clean.

    Two, if there is break down or rot in the feet fill them with wood filler and let harden prior to staining.  This will help protect from further damage.

    Three, when staining the underside of the table top slats try to avoid getting too much stain in between because it will run through and drip on the top of the table.  Make sense?  Don’t slather a ton of stain into the creases.  You will not see them from this angle and could get darker pools of dried stain onto the top.

    Lastly, don’t stain the sides of the table top when it’s upside down.  Same principle.  It will run and leave a darker line all around the top.

    Once coat is usually enough for the bottom.

    Flip after an hour or so and stain the top and sides.

    How to Refinish a Wooden Picnic Table

    #3.  Sand the top with 220 fine grit paper.

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    This is the secret to a smooth finish.  In between coats of stain or poly use a fine grit sand paper (220 or 320 for an indoor piece) and hand sand in between coats.

    MUST BE TOTALLY DRY FIRST.

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    Here I am using the sand paper.  Sand with the grain then use a brush to wipe clean or a tacky cloth.

    How to Refinish a Wooden Picnic Table in 4 Easy Steps

    #4.  Apply a second coat of stain.

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    Apply a second coat.

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    Here is the difference between the first coat (left) and the second coat of stain (right).

    Allow to dry.

    Voila!! 

    How to Refinish a Wooden Picnic Table in 4 Easy Steps

    After

    How to Refinish a Wooden Picnic Table
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    And now your sad, dilapidated picnic table is restored back to life for many more hours of sweet memories around the table.

    How to Refinish a Wooden Picnic Table in 4 Easy Steps

    Before and After

    For more outdoor living inspiration be sure to check out:

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      Learn how to refinish a wooden picnic table in 4 easy steps with this DIY tutorial!
      Learn how to refinish a wooden picnic table in 4 easy steps with this DIY tutorial!
      Learn how to refinish a wooden picnic table in 4 easy steps with this DIY tutorial!
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      How to Refinish a Wooden Picnic Table in 4 Steps

      Ahna Fulmer
      Learn how to refinish a wooden picnic table in 4 easy steps with this DIY tutorial!
      Total Time 3 days

      Equipment

      • Hand sander

      Ingredients
        

      • 60 grit sanding disc
      • 120 grit sanding disc
      • 1 can Cabot Gold Ultimate Finish
      • 1 paint brush
      • 220 grit sand paper sheets

      Instructions
       

      • #1.  SAND THE TOP OF THE TABLE AND THE BENCHES.
      • #2.  STAIN THE BOTTOM OF THE TABLE AND BENCHES FIRST AND THEN THE TOP.
      • #3.  SAND THE TOP WITH 220 FINE GRIT PAPER.
      • #4.  APPLY A SECOND COAT OF STAIN.
      Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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      7 Comments

      1. Awesome explanation and layout! I have a picnic table I built about 8 years ago that is in desperate need of this. I will be using your instructions to get it back to its former glory. Thank you so much!

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