How to Buy Picnic Tables | Buying Guide

The commercial picnic tables you purchase should convey quality, an inviting appeal, and a commitment to comfort for your community.

Besides appearance, there are other factors to consider as well:
  • How many tables are necessary to accommodate your needs?
  • Where will you be placing the tables?
  • Will your tables be exposed to the elements all year long?

This picnic table buying guide is designed to help you answer those questions and learn more about picnic table styles, finishes, and installation options.

We have a large assortment of commercial outdoor picnic tables and these considerations play a crucial role in helping you select the best picnic tables for your establishment.

Choose the Perfect Picnic Table Shape for Your Seating Needs

Picnic tables come in several different sizes and shapes including: Round, square, hexagon, octagon, oval, and the traditional rectangle. Allowing about 18" of linear space per person, you can expect your average round or squared picnic table to seat eight people. Octagon tables usually refer to the table top shape, and the seats are arranged in the same way as a squared picnic table, also seating eight people. Unlike octagon tables, the seats of hexagon picnic tables follow the table top shape and typically seat six. Oval and rectangular picnic tables can seat between 8 to 12 people depending on the length. Square, round, hexagon, or octagon tables are easier to access and provide a more intimate seating arrangement.

Your personal tastes play a part in selecting your tables but there are other things to consider. If you own a business or location that has frequent visitors, you should consider selecting tables of different sizes to accommodate groups of varying numbers.

If you suspect your tables may be prone to vandalism or theft, you may want to opt for more durable, easier to clean, or heavier weight tables that cannot be moved or stolen.

Universal Access Picnic Tables

Remember to take universal access needs into account when selecting your tables. These tables meet American Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. Most rectangular ADA picnic tables have a longer table top overhang on one or both ends of the table to accommodate wheelchairs. Since rectangular tables can be up to eight feet in length, some are designed for better social interaction by featuring a space in the middle of the table, instead of at the end, bringing a person who uses a wheelchair closer to their friends or family.

Keep in mind that although certain picnic tables may appear to be wheelchair accessible (ex. no seating on one side), they may not adequately accommodate a wheelchair. To make sure a table is ADA approved, look for labels such as "ADA", "Universal Access", or an ADA symbol.

Kids Picnic Tables

Don't forget about the little ones! Kids' picnic tables look very similar to grown up tables but are designed with lower seat and table heights allowing children to enjoy eating, coloring, or crafts outdoors and making them perfect for playgrounds, parks, and schools.

Picnic tables are available in a wide variety of materials including: Metal (aluminum, powder coated steel, thermoplastic coated steel, and galvanized steel), concrete, wood, and recycled plastic.

Metal Picnic Tables

Metal picnic tables are generally made from aluminum or steel and both are popular choices for use by businesses, universities, municipalities, and homeowners associations. Look at the gauge of the metal used. The lower the gauge, the sturdier the table will be. In many cases, it is possible to order replacement parts or additional accessories for metal tables such as sleep inhibitors for table tops or seats, and anti-vandalism bars for wheelchair accessible table top overhangs.

Metal tables and the metal tubular frames of other types of tables, such as wood tables, are available in aluminum or in a variety of steel coatings. Coating options include: Galvanized, power-coated or thermoplastic coated.

Aluminum

These tables are affordable, durable, corrosion resistant, and light enough to be moved about. They are typically coated with a clear or colored powder-coat finish. Aluminum tables are used by many different organizations all around the country and they are a staple of the parks and recreation industry.

Powder-Coated Steel

The powder-coat finish is created with a free-flowing, dry powder that is applied electrostatically and heated to create a tough, protective layer. This coating creates excellent durability, a high gloss paint-like appearance, exceptional corrosion resistance and is available in many vibrant colors. This type of coating is commonly applied to the tubular frame components of picnic tables, but some table tops and seats can be powder-coated as well.

Thermoplastic Coated Steel

The thermoplastic coating process is a dipping process in which the steel (typically pre-galvanized) is dipped into a hot bath of high-density polyethylene with UV and colorfast protective additives. It offers great edge coverage, excellent corrosion protection, inhibits the growth of microorganisms, and is available in a variety of color options. This type of coating is commonly applied to the table tops and seats of picnic tables, but thermoplastic coated tubular frame components are available as well. The thermoplastic coating process is available in two finishes. The matte polyethylene finish gives the sheen appearance of fresh paint while plastisol results in a glossy finish with a thick, more rubberized feel.

Galvanized Steel

Galvanized steel is dipped in an 860°F molten zinc bath to give the steel a thin coating for corrosion protection. That gives it a rugged appearance and the trademark shiny pattern known as "spangle". The general result is similar to stainless but widely varies depending on the vacillations of the process. This type of coating is usually only applied to the tubular frame components of picnic tables. Picnic table frame kits may be purchased separately if you'd like to supply your own lumber for the top and seats.

Concrete Picnic Tables

Concrete tables start with a skeleton of steel or a welded rebar cage that is then encased in concrete. This makes concrete one of the most versatile and durable construction materials available. All concrete tables are built to ASTM specifications. The sheer weight and material of these tables makes them nearly impossible to steal or vandalize.

Each concrete table is permanently colored with in-organic pigments or stained and protected with an acrylic sealer. The rigidity of concrete comes from an aggregate of small pebbles or particles of glass. This aggregate is held together by a matrix available in different colors. After the curing process the form is usually smoothed by sand-blasting to create an even, flat surface. This depends on the textured looks exposed by the process. Textured or smooth finish options are available for the legs and base of the tables. Table tops and seats are only available in smooth finishes.

For a more custom look, table tops and seats are available in a polished terrazzo finish which consists of mixed marble, quartz, granite, or other suitable chips. Terrazzo is cured, ground, and polished to produce a uniformly textured smooth surface.

Octagon Concrete Outdoor Picnic Table with Universal Access

For an environmentally friendly, "green" option, the concrete table tops and seats are also available in a polished terrazzo containing 100% recycled ground glass aggregate, in your choice of several vibrant color options. The glass is utilized throughout the concrete form, not just on the surface, and the reinforcement steel used for added strength and long-lasting durability is also made of recycled product.

Recycled glass terrazzo concrete picnic tables qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) points and are manufactured in the USA.

Wood Picnic Tables

Merged with either metal or concrete foundations, wood seats and tabletops offer a beautiful, classic feel that is easily customizable. Wood tables feature different wood species and stains, allowing for that warm, inviting look that only wood can convey. Wood table surfaces can be sealed with a water sealer approximately every four months to keep them looking new, or if not maintained, many types of wood will weather to a rich, grayish hue over time, a natural color many people appreciate.

Park Ranger Rectangular Picnic Table with Redwood Stained Southern Yellow Pine Table Top and Seats

These tables are also typically more affordable initially and allow for easy maintenance and updates from the local paint or lumber store.

Recycled Plastic Picnic Tables

Recycled plastic picnic tables are durable and require almost no maintenance at all. In addition to being great for the environment, these tables won't splinter and are resistant to graffiti. Pens and markers can easily be washed off; paint will not bond to the surface and can be removed with sandpaper. Surface cuts or scratches can simply be ironed away.

Recycled plastic is made with a minimum of 96% post-consumer/industrial materials such as milk jugs, pop bottles, and plastic bags. UV stabilizers to protect against noticeable sun fading and enhance color, and other stabilizing properties make up the remaining 4% of the product.

Park Place Rectangular Recycled Plastic Picnic Table

Recycled plastic won't crack, chip or fade; is less flammable than wood; has a smooth, aesthetically pleasing feel; and will never rot or deteriorate. Also, it does not emit harmful chemicals into the environment that might pollute nearby surfaces or groundwater. To top it all off, recycled plastic can be recycled over and over again to make more products that can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Although it may be more practical to choose a dark color for your picnic table, keep in mind that lighter colors reflect more sunlight and keep the seat surfaces cooler in the summer. Perforated or expanded coated steel picnic tables allow air flow throughout the surfaces and aid in keeping them cool to the touch. If you're looking for an outdoor picnic table material that does not get as hot in the sun, your best choices are aluminum, wood, or concrete. Of course, the best remedy is to position your tables in shaded areas or choose one that comes with an attached sun shelter or an umbrella hole.

Installation options vary across commercial picnic tables. Tables may come with a single pedestal base, individual leg bases or frame support bases. There are three different options for mounting your table.

In-ground Mount

If you are interested in keeping your tables in one location for the long term, look into table options that have the in-ground mount option available. The steel tubing of your table is planted deep into the ground and stabilized by a perpendicular pin. This mount offers you the most protective and stable option. Remember, this type of installation requires the tables to be in place before a concrete pad is poured.

Surface Mount

If the area where you will place your picnic tables contains concrete that has already been poured and has set, a surface mounted table may be the better choice. Surface mounts are available on a wide variety of tables offering you different aesthetic looks while providing stability and protection against thieves. Some tables offer optional grout covers to hide the bolted down surface mount flange and add more overall appeal to your picnic table.

Portable

If theft is not a concern and committing your tables to one location does not interest you, there are several portable options available. The ease with which these tables can be moved depends on the type of table you purchase. A concrete table is usually considered portable, but its weight will likely commit it to one location. A metal picnic table offers you limitless portability, some of them can even be folded up and put away. To help protect against the possibility of undesired movement of the table, certain portable tables offer surface mount clamps as well as in-ground mount posts for semi-permanent concrete mounting. This extra safeguarding provides you with stability while still giving you the option to move the table if need be.

Location

The area where you must place your picnic tables is often pre-defined.

If your tables are for your employees, try to place them in gathering areas, near office doors and places where shade is possible while providing an open yet private setting. A new table in a poor location is apt not to receive much use.

If you're in the food service business, and the picnic tables are for your customers, it's a good idea to place them close by so that recently purchased food doesn't have to be carried very far, and within eyeshot of your staff to handle any questions or concerns.

Spacing

Placing your tables in a communal area is a good idea, but be wary of placing them too close together. Your employees or guests should be able to access all of the seats of a table from one to the next without that high school cafeteria feel. Such a feeling may turn people away from using your tables and, in the case of a business, may turn away customers.

As you place your tables, especially your universal access tables, remember to keep access, circulation and ADA requirements in mind.

Weather Protection

If your table is going to be exposed to the elements all year long, make sure you select an appropriate table that can handle it. Concrete tables work well for this, as do metal tables with a thermoplastic coating. If you are interested in a wood or non-coated metal table but you are concerned about the elements, consider purchasing tables that can be folded up and stored over the winter.

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111 North River Road | North Aurora, IL 60542 | (800) 323-5664 | Fax: (630) 897-0573 | sales@belson.com