There’s nothing quite like enjoying a meal alfresco, especially when it’s on a picnic table you’ve personally revamped. Whether it’s a family heirloom or a recent acquisition, painting your picnic table can breathe new life into it and make your outdoor gatherings even more memorable. But with the myriad of paint options out there, how do you select the best paint for an outdoor picnic table or determine which is the best paint for a picnic table in general? Dive into this detailed guide to ensure your picnic table not only looks fabulous but also stands the test of time.

The Science Behind the Paint

Before delving into brands and prices, it’s crucial to understand the science behind what makes one paint superior to another for outdoor furniture.

  • Durability: The best paint for an outdoor picnic table must withstand the elements – be it rain, sun, or snow. Look for paints labeled as ‘weatherproof’ or ‘exterior grade’;
  • UV Resistance: Constant exposure to sunlight can cause colors to fade. UV-resistant paints ensure the color remains vibrant over time;
  • Flexibility: Wood expands and contracts with temperature variations. Paints that offer flexibility will not crack or peel off as the wood moves;
  • Mildew Resistance: Outdoor furniture can be susceptible to mold and mildew. The best paint for a picnic table will incorporate mildewides to prevent this growth.

Top Brands and Prices

The market offers a plethora of options when it comes to outdoor picnic table paint. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve curated a list of trusted brands known for delivering exceptional quality and durability. Here are some top brands and their price ranges:

BrandPrice Range (per gallon)
Behr Premium Plus Exterior$30 – $40
Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint Exterior$50 – $60
Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior$60 – $70

Let’s dive deeper into these top brands to understand what makes them stand out:

Behr Premium Plus Exterior

Behr Premium Plus Exterior paint is renowned for its durability and an extensive range of colors. It’s a trusted choice for those looking to spruce up their outdoor picnic tables.

  • Durability: Behr Premium Plus Exterior paint is designed to withstand harsh outdoor conditions, including UV rays and moisture;
  • Vast Color Range: With an array of colors to choose from, you can easily find the perfect shade to complement your outdoor décor.

Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint Exterior Acrylic Latex

Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint Exterior Acrylic Latex is celebrated for its exceptional coverage and longevity. It’s a favorite among homeowners and professionals alike.

  • Excellent Coverage: This paint offers outstanding coverage, ensuring a smooth finish and vibrant colors;
  • Longevity: Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint is designed to last, even in harsh weather conditions.

Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior

Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior paint is well-regarded for its color retention and mildew resistance. It’s an excellent choice for outdoor projects where color longevity is a priority.

  • Color Retention: This paint boasts impressive color retention, ensuring your picnic table remains vibrant year after year;
  • Mildew Resistance: Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior paint is resistant to mildew growth, making it suitable for humid environments.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

While choosing the best paint for an outdoor picnic table is essential, avoiding these pitfalls is equally vital:

Skipping the Primer

One of the most common mistakes when painting outdoor furniture, including picnic tables, is skipping the primer. Primer serves as a crucial preparatory step that provides several benefits:

  • Improves Adhesion: Primer helps the paint adhere better to the surface of the table. Without primer, the paint may not bond properly and can peel or chip easily;
  • Enhances Durability: A good quality primer creates a protective barrier between the wood and the elements, increasing the table’s longevity;
  • Prevents Stains: Primer helps to prevent stains from wood tannins or previous finishes bleeding through the paint.

When choosing a primer, opt for one that is suitable for outdoor use and matches the type of paint you intend to use. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.

Not Cleaning the Table

Painting over a dirty or untreated surface is another common mistake. It’s essential to thoroughly clean and prepare the picnic table before applying any paint. Here’s how to do it:

  • Cleaning: Use a mild detergent or a mixture of water and vinegar to clean the table. Scrub away dirt, grime, and any mildew using a stiff brush;
  • Sanding: After cleaning, sand the table’s surface lightly. Sanding helps remove rough spots, old paint, and imperfections, ensuring a smooth and even finish;
  • Remove Dust: After sanding, wipe down the table with a tack cloth or a damp cloth to remove any sanding dust.

Proper cleaning and sanding create a clean canvas for the paint, allowing it to adhere correctly and provide a uniform finish.

Ignoring the Weather

Ignoring weather conditions when painting your picnic table can lead to paint application problems and poor results. Here are the weather-related mistakes to avoid:

  • Rainy Days: Avoid painting on rainy days or when rain is in the forecast. Moisture can interfere with the paint’s drying process and cause it to run or bubble;
  • Low Temperatures: Painting in temperatures below 50°F (10°C) is not advisable. Cold temperatures can slow down the drying time and affect the paint’s adhesion and finish;
  • High Humidity: High humidity can also cause paint to dry more slowly and may lead to a sticky or uneven finish.

To ensure the best results, choose a dry and mild day with temperatures within the recommended range when painting your picnic table.

Expert Tips

Person painting wooden surface

Whether you’re using latex or oil-based paints, it’s essential to follow expert tips to ensure a successful and long-lasting paint job. Let’s delve into key techniques and recommendations to help you achieve a flawless paint finish.

Test Before You Paint

Before committing to a color, it’s crucial to test it on a small patch of the surface you intend to paint. This step is especially important when dealing with different paint types or surfaces. Consider these factors when testing:

  • Paint Adhesion: Ensure the paint adheres well and doesn’t peel or blister after drying;
  • Color Accuracy: Verify that the color matches your expectations in the specific lighting of your space;
  • Texture: Observe the texture and finish of the paint once it’s dried.

By testing first, you can avoid costly mistakes and make adjustments as needed.

Select the Right Brushes

Choosing the correct brushes is essential for achieving a smooth and even paint finish. The type of brush you need depends on whether you are using latex or oil-based paint:

  • Latex Paints: Synthetic brushes are the best choice for latex paints. They are durable, easy to clean, and maintain their shape when wet. Nylon or polyester brushes are commonly recommended for latex paints;
  • Oil-Based Paints: When working with oil-based paints, natural bristle brushes are ideal. These brushes are excellent at holding and spreading oil-based paints, resulting in a professional-looking finish. Ox hair and China bristle brushes are commonly used for oil-based paints.

Apply Multiple Thin Coats

One common mistake in painting is applying a single thick coat of paint. Instead, follow this expert advice:

  • Apply Multiple Thin Coats: It’s better to apply several thin coats of paint rather than one thick coat. Thin coats dry faster and more evenly, reducing the risk of drips, streaks, or uneven coverage;
  • Adequate Drying Time: Allow each thin coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next one. Refer to the paint manufacturer’s instructions for recommended drying times between coats. This ensures a durable and consistent finish.

Brush Selection Guide

Paint TypeRecommended Brushes
Latex PaintsSynthetic Brushes (Nylon or Polyester)
Oil-Based PaintsNatural Bristle Brushes (Ox hair or China bristle)


While finding the best paint for a picnic table requires some research, the effort ensures your table remains a beautiful centerpiece for your outdoor gatherings for years to come. Remember the science behind the paint, avoid common pitfalls, and consider our expert tips to make your picnic table painting project a roaring success!


What is the best paint for an outdoor picnic table?

While several brands excel, always look for paints labeled ‘exterior grade’, ‘weatherproof’, and with UV and mildew resistance.

Can I use indoor paint for my picnic table?

It’s not recommended. Even the best indoor paint lacks the necessary properties to withstand outdoor conditions.

How often should I repaint my picnic table?

With the best paint for a picnic table, and proper care, you can expect to repaint every 5-7 years.

Do I need to seal my painted picnic table?

While the best paint for an outdoor picnic table might offer excellent protection, an additional sealant can provide an added layer of protection against the elements.