A Slice of Americana: Foolproof Stain for a Wood Picnic Table

This little corner at the cottage has quickly become one of our favorite spots, but I’m not a perfectionist, particularly when it comes to DIY projects, so finding a foolproof stain for our picnic table was key.

An Icon of Americana: The Wooden Picnic Table

We bought an unfinished 72″pine wood coffee table from Lowes. It’s the perfectly classic type of picnic table that you associate with picking crabs in the summer or laying out a spread of sandwiches and chips while the sun rises high in the sky. It’s an American icon with its simple wood planks and functional style.

We’d flirted with the idea of getting fancy Polywood outdoor dining furniture (and I do love Polywood), but, after doing the math, I couldn’t justify the price. I could buy this wood picnic table ten times over before ever approaching the price of the Polywood set.

And I love the finished result more than I could have imagined. It’s a picturesque place to sit while eating lunch, snacking on happy hour appetizers, or even a spot to work for a few hours. The way it sits nestled below the shade of this tree is a dream.

How I Used This Foolproof Stain for a Wood Picnic Table

But here’s the catch. You can pick up an unfinished table for about $150, but it will need to be stained before it can weather the elements. I went to the hardware store to seek their advice and the associate had me sold as soon as she said “foolproof.” She promised this Ready Seal Exterior Stain and Sealer would be incredibly easy to apply and wouldn’t cause any streaking or runs. As someone with a heavy hand when it comes to paint, I’m the right person to push that claim to its limits.

I opted for the stain in Dark Walnut to get a rich slightly reddish-brown. Before applying the stain, I wiped off the picnic table with a damp towel just to make sure I wasn’t going to preserve any bugs or leaves within the finish. I used a regular paint brush and haphazardly applied the first coat, and then a few hours later, a second. I went back about a week later and did a third. And, y’all, it looks great. The only blemish is where Adam accidentally dropped red paint, and that’s not the stain’s fault.

The finished product is so charming and I know it’s a spot where we’re going to relax and entertain for years to come. I imagine we’ll have to refinish it every few years, but given that it’s a quick project — maybe 30 minutes per coat — it’s well worth it.

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