Budget Bench Makeovers: DIY Colourful Picnic Bench

Spruce up your aging garden picnic bench with this budget friendly picnic bench upcycling idea.

If you have a young family, it is highly likely your garden has faced neglect over those first few years. I vaguely remember the days when we had short lawns, borders, and trees that didn’t eclipse the sun entirely from view (well, that’s what Facebook memories tells me anyway). It’s only now we have found the energy to start tackling it again, as we are now emerging from what we have named “the baby cave” phase. Aside from tackling the jungle, I want to make the best of what we already have, so this picnic bench upcycle idea really appealed to me.

Not only do kids take a toll on your energy, they also take a large hit to your wallet. We want to get the garden into a nice enough condition for them to run around in but have a budget of next to nothing. That said, I’m a quirky gal, I want my home and garden to have unique touches. So when I saw that our picnic bench was looking worse for wear, I was excited to dive in and not only prolong it’s life, but make it look snazzier too.

The bench in need of love

Picnic Bench in need of an upcycle

As you can see, our bench has faced the brunt of the elements from the last few years. Mucky, mossy and in need of some TLC. Although a coat of traditional stain would preserve it and keep it useable, I wanted to try something different. So, off to Wilko we popped.

Picnic Bench Surface with mould

I knew I wanted more than one colour, so the cheapest way to do this was to pick a selection of tester pots. Whilst I was there, I also picked up some metal paints for a future project, and some blank homeware items to trial out with my Cricut machine (post on that coming soon!). Also, some new paint brushes, because for some reason paint brushes just disappear into the garage after each decorating job, never to be seen again. All in, the tester pots came to £6, which is a really cheap price point to upcycle a piece of furniture.

Picnic Table Transformation Step 1: Sanding

For the paint to adhere as smoothly and sustainably as possible, the surface it is applied to needs to be as clean as possible. Whilst not an exciting first step, it’s important to sand down all the gunk and junk from the wood top before applying any paints.

Picnic Bench Upcycle - Mid Sanding
You can see the difference between the 2 sanded planks and the 2 unsanded
Sanded Bench Top
All ready for painting

Picnic Table Transformation Step 2: Painting

Bench with painting supplies

The fun part next: painting. I decided to buy 6 tester pots of colour, as there were 6 boards on the top of the bench. This turned out to be the perfect amount of paint to do all surfaces of the bench. In total it probably took about 3-4 hours to paint everything, although I spaced the painting out over a few afternoons. The sun was so warm during these sessions the paint dried almost instantly, making it easy to make progress. I only opted for one coat, as I like the slightly rustic look of the wood grain coming through as it weathers.

Painted Bench Top in green, blue, purple and black

Tip: Keep a wet cloth with you. That way if you slip and put splodges of colour in the wrong place you can correct it before it’s had a chance to stain.

Painting completed on bench upcycle

Picnic Table Transformation Step 3: A Touch of Gold

Gold flecks of paint added to the bench upcycle project
Bench Upcycle finished, picnic bench with blue, green, purple and black planks, with a gold finish on the woodgrain

I had some gold paint (for metal and wood) in the garage from another project and decided to apply some very thin streaks of it to the painted bench; just enough to pick out some of the grain. It really adds a lovely touch of sparkle in the sunshine but isn’t too overbearing on the eye.

What upcycling projects are you currently working on in the garden? Let us know in the comments below.

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