Recycled Plastic v Wood Picnic Tables: Which is Best For Outdoors?

plastic bottles recycled to a picnic bench

Help clean the ocean with a plastic picnic table

With the environment being a hot topic right now, eco-conscious products are becoming more widely available to help reduce our carbon footprint.

Recycled plastic picnic tables are one of them and relatively new to the scene, but they are an ideal way for you to do your part in battling climate change, with many advantages over the regular wooden options.

There’s plenty of reasons that make them better than wood. The primary being that it does not involve chopping down trees just for you to have a place to relax and enjoy some food. There are a few other key factors that make them a better option.

Recycled benches can be quite expensive but don’t let that deter you as they will last for years to come thanks to plastic being so tough to degrade in comparison to wood.

The reason plastic is such a problem in the world is due to it being so unwilling to decompose – making it ideal for an outdoor bench!

Why RECYCLED Plastic Over Wood?

Forest burning with an ape

Thousands of animals are losing their homes

Obviously we would never advise that you get a table made from new plastic but recycled plastic one of the main reasons is that it has a much more positive impact on the environment in comparison to wood.


First of all, by choosing recycled plastic over wood means that there will be no trees chopped down.

Deforestation is one of the main causes for climate change and the reduced number of trees is having a drastic impact on the CO2 levels in the air, meaning we just shouldn’t be cutting them down purely for our luxuries.

The recent amazonian wildfires have not helped the situation at all, that’s why opting for recycled plastic is a better choice in terms of environmental impact.


Plastic stands a much better chance of surviving in tough weather conditions are wood tends to rot easily, giving you many more years of use.


With wood, it will decompose much faster than plastic. Whilst this is positive for wood, plastic is just filling up our waste areas and they are lacking the capacity to deal with it for much longer, so using recycled plastic for a long-life piece of furniture like a picnic table is ideal.

Will a Plastic Picnic Table Rot Outdoors?

This an area where these tables really thrive, I’m sure you’re aware of the problem of rubbish dumps become overwhelmed with plastic due to its longevity.

The weather will have minimal effect thanks to the properties of plastic being so durable and water-resistant even without any added protective layers.

Whereas a wooden picnic table will be covered in mould and may even start to rot after a few rainy weeks, even with weather protection as they are prone to having mildew build up on those moist, warm mornings.

Well, even better news is that with good care you can expect your table to last you well over 20+ years, it’s a huge lifespan in comparison with wood which usually lasts up to 5 years at best.

Take a look at the timeline below, this will give you an indication of why it’s so important to reuse plastic.

plastic decomposition timeline

Are Plastic Picnic Tables Heavy?

Generally plastic is light but when they’re formed with many layers (such as a table) you can expect them to weigh up to 100kg.

This weight is necessary for outdoor furniture, it gives it the stability to cope with high winds – the last thing you want is your brand new table flying away in the wind.

But bear this in mind when you get your hand on your table as you’ll probably need some assistance moving it around.

Does Plastic Furniture Require Much Maintenance?

maintenance man

You don’t have to worry about maintaining it!

Another huge advantage over wood is that you will have little to no maintenance with recycled plastic furniture.

Often with wooden products, you have to apply weather coats to ensure that they survive through rough weather conditions, whereas you will not have this chore as plastic is one of the more durable materials. Hence the reason it’s so widely used!

With it, you’ll find that water simply wipes off and will not soak into it, meaning you can use it straight after a rainstorm without needing it to dry out.

If you happen to mark it, generally you will be able to wipe the mark off with a bit of scrubbing but there’s plenty of paints available to easily paint over it. This also allows you to change the style if you fancy a makeover in the area it’s placed.

Will My Plastic Table Break?

Plastic is very durable, so you should have no issues with it breaking unless you are using some serious force.

The material can also be considered flexible, it will hold up against accidental hits such as your children hitting a football at it.

If you happen to put too much weight on it, you’ll see it start to flex before it snaps but be aware as plastic has the tendency to snap with significant blowback.

Always check the max load of tables before putting any weight on it

Also, it’s much more difficult to break and you will not find any edges breaking away as you do with aged wood.



My name is Shaun Bird and I've been writing about and reviewing outdoor products (mainly tents and gazebos) for over 4 years now. If you're looking for advice before you buy then read my posts or contact me via the about us page.