Your patio can be a haven in the hotter summer months, but you need comfortable seating to get the most out of it. It can be expensive to buy benches, tables, and chairs, but you can make your own with these outdoor bench ideas. We’ll give you the tools, materials, and inspiration you need to turn your patio from drab to fab and create a gathering space that is perfect for friends and family.
Outdoor Bench Idea 1 – Wood and Cinder Blocks
The first outdoor bench idea involves wood, cinder blocks, concrete adhesive, and you can add an option cushion if you want a little more padding when you sit down. You can get all of these items at your local hardware store, and it should cost less than $60 for everything. Additionally, you can put this bench together in under an hour, so you won’t spend all weekend on it. You’ll need:
- Four 4x4x10 lumber pieces
- 12 cinder blocks
- Concrete adhesive
- Cushion(s) (optional)
To start this outdoor bench idea, you’ll need a flat surface to set your cinder blocks on. To start, decide if you’re going to bury half of the cinder blocks in dirt or if you’re putting them on concrete. If you choose to bury them, you’ll flip them so they’re standing up longways with the holes all facing out. Use the concrete adhesive and glue four of them together. Next, take the remaining two and put them on top of your four original ones longways with the holes facing out. Use concrete adhesive to stick them together.
Repeat the process so you have two stacks of six cinder blocks each. These will act as the base of your bench, or the legs. Once everything is dry, you can set them eight feet apart. You should be able to look through the holes in one stack of cinder blocks and see through the other stack. Take your four 4x4x10 pieces of lumber and slide them through the holes in the top bricks. This creates your seating area. You can leave it as bare wood or add a cushion. You can also use the adhesive to stick the boards in place.
The best outdoor bench gives you a spot to gather out in your yard. You don’t have to have a transitional bench, either. Instead, you can make one that is fun, funky, and fits into your design aesthetic perfectly using things you have around the house.
Outdoor Bench Idea Two – Wooden Stumps
This is a super simple and cute outdoor bench idea that uses 2x4s and wooden logs to create rustic seating areas around your patio. Chances are, you’ll most likely have some older logs laying around, and you can quickly repurpose them into a bench or stool. For this project, you’ll need a few items that you have around the house and a few hours of free time. Your items are:
- Two or three stumps cut to the same height
- Three or four 2x4s cut to the same length
- Longer nails or screws to drive the 2x4s into the stump
- Hammer or screw gun
To start, make sure that your logs are the same height because these will form the base of your seating area. You can have one on each end, but if you have a longer seating area, you may want a third one in the middle to provide additional support. Once you decide how long you’d like your outdoor bench idea to be, cut your 2x4s to this length. Place the 2x4s side-by-side and put the ends up on the top of the stumps. You’ll nail or screw these into place to make it secure. You can even create one long seating area to go around your fire pit if you have enough stumps.
Wood stumps are perfect for many outdoor bench ideas because they can withstand wear and tear, humidity, and moisture without warping or falling apart. They’re also very sturdy, and they can handle high amounts of weight.
Outdoor Bench Idea Three – Planter Bench
If you’re a gardener, there’s a high possibility that you’ll have larger planters sitting around that you don’t use every year. If so, you can easily repurpose them into an attractive bench. What’s even better, you can have trees like maples or palms growing up through the bench seat on the ends to add a whimsical touch to it. For this project, you’ll need:
- Two large planters (same size)
- Planting medium
- Two young trees
- Old pallet
- Paint and paintbrush
To start, you’ll take your pallet and cut it down. You want it to be wide enough to fit over the lip of the planters but not too large that the trees have problems growing through it. You want to cut two notches on the sides so you can easily slide your planters into the pallet. Decide how wide you’d like it to be, and cut your pallet down accordingly.
Once you get it cut, sand it so there are no splinters or rough edges. You’re now ready to paint both the pallet and the planters. You can make them the same color or mix and match. When they dry, add a clear coat of sealant to lock moisture out and wait for them to dry. You can now add your planting medium and trees to the pots. Carefully slide the pots into the pallet grooves until the pots completely support it. You’re now ready to enjoy it. If it’s too low, consider adding cinder blocks to the bottom of the planters to give them some height.
Outdoor Bench Idea Four – Brick and Plank
If you’ve recently edged your walkways or installed hardscapes, you most likely have larger bricks laying around. You can also buy bigger stone bricks like landscape stones that will work wonderfully for this outdoor bench idea. Just make sure you get enough so you can create two sides to your bench, and they’re nice because they’re naturally waterproof. For this project, you’ll need:
- Stone bricks
- Concrete adhesive
- Three or four 2x4s
The first thing you’ll do with this project is decide how wide and long you want your seating area to be. Cut your 2x4s to your desired length. Next, you’ll nail or screw your 2x4s together to create a large slab of wood that will be the main seat of your bench. Sand away any rough areas and stain or seal the wood. Set is aside so it can dry.
While your seating area is drying, you can start building the base of your bench. To do this, you’ll stack your stone bricks up as high as you want them. Add a layer of concrete adhesive between each stack and leave them to dry. You should have two stacks of the same height when you finish. When everything is dry, position the stone bases where you want to set. Add your wooden seat to the top. It’s now ready to sit on and enjoy all summer long.
Outdoor Bench Idea Five – Repurposed Bathtub
Many people like to repurpose old things and upcycle them to keep them out of the environment. This outdoor bench idea takes an old claw-footed bathtub and turns it into a sturdy couch-like seating area that is heavy enough to not blow over in strong winds, and it won’t rust or corrode because it’s a heavy-duty porcelain. You’ll need:
- Old-fashioned claw foot tub
- Measuring tape
- Quickie Saw
- Safety glasses and gloves
- Lacquer Thinner (optional)
The first thing you have to do is get your bathtub. Take your measuring tape and mark where you’d like to cut for the opening of your bench. You’ll create straight lines along one long side of the tub. You can turn the tub on its side and use the quickie saw to carefully cut along your marks. Wear safety goggles and gloves. Have someone hold the piece up before you make the last cut so it doesn’t fall and chip the porcelain interior. Carefully remove the cut piece before taking your grinder and smoothing out the rough edges.
You’ll take a hand scraper and get rid of as much of the paint as possible if it’s peeling. You can add a coat of lacquer thinner to help strip even more away. Clean it off and apply a layer or primer to the entire exterior of the tub. When it dries, you’re ready to add your paint. Ideally, this will be a glossy finish. Let it dry and flip the tub up so it’s sitting ready to put your pillows in. To finish this outdoor bench idea, add your cushions.
Outdoor Bench Idea Six – Pallet Swing
Lounging in a swing is an excellent way to pass a lazy afternoon, and you can make this swing as big or small as you like. It’s a very cost-effective project that looks complicated, but it’s actually very easy to do. You’ll only need a few items, some tools, and a few hours to complete it. You’ll need:
- Two or three pallets (or more if you want a larger swing)
- Three 8-foot 2x4s
- Measuring tape
- Cushion or a mattress (twin sized is nice)
- Rope (high-grade)
- Three Vinyl zippered mattress covers
To start, get your measuring tape out and measure the size of your cushion. This will let you know how many pallets you need to complete your project. For a twin-sized cushion, you’ll need roughly 2.5 pallets, and it works out to around 80 inches long. Also, remember to keep space for the rope you tie in the ends. Take your 2x4s and slide them inside the pallets. You want one on each inside edge with one going straight through the middle, longways.
Get your screwdriver and screws and secure each 2×4 to the sides and bottom of the pallet frame. You can add the additional boards from the pallet to the middle of your swing if it’s not long enough. Once the 2x4s are secured, get your saw and carefully cut any 2×4 ends that are hanging out of the edge of the pallets. Drill holes in each corner of the swing, going through the top and bottom boards. The hole should be large enough for the rope. Slip the rope through the holes and tie it. The rope should go around the 2x4s, and you want to hang the swing. Finally, apply the vinyl covers to the mattress or cushions and set it on your swing.
Outdoor Bench Idea Seven – Toadstools
Maybe you have a smaller rooftop garden and you want to create a small seating area when you come up to relax and kick back. If so, these small toadstool seats are cute, sturdy, and whimsical. You’ll only need a few tools and materials to create these seats, and you can set several of them together to create a nice outdoor bench idea. You’ll need:
- Cut logs for the base
- Wooden salad bowls with flat bottoms
- Spray paint
- Duct tape
Take your logs and cut them to whatever size you like for this outdoor bench idea. They should be tall enough that it’s easy to sit down and get up, but they shouldn’t be so tall that they’re unstable. Take your wooden salad bowls and paint them whatever color you like. You can go for a vibrant red or orange, or you can go unconventional and paint them blue or green. Allow them to dry. Once it dries, you can take your duct tape and cut out circles. White stands out nicely for most colors, and you can put them around the salad bowl to mimic the spots on a toadstool mushroom. Add a layer of clear sealant and set them aside to dry.
Next, find the center of your bowl and drill a hole through it. Flip the bowl over so the edges hang down and put it over your cut log. Screw the top to the base using the hole you pre-drilled in the last step. You’re now ready to put them around your garden or yard and use them for seating.
Outdoor Bench Idea Eight – Milk Crate Stools
This outdoor bench idea is perfect for creating low seating around a low table or in the corners of your patio under an umbrella with lights. Each crate will be a single seating area, but you can line up a few of them to create a nice bench. You’ll only need a few materials to get started, and you can buy cushions for them or make your own. For the sake of this tutorial, let’s pretend we made the cushions.
- Milk crates
- Staple gun
- Measuring tape
- Mattress pad foam
- Hot glue gun
- Hot glue
If you don’t get someone to cut your plywood when you buy it, you can measure out the dimensions of your milk crate and cut your plywood to match. Make sure you measure the top of the crate, and not the bottom. Take your foam and cut it to size. It should fit to the edges of your cut plywood. Once you have it, you’ll take your fabric pieces and cut them so they’re three or four inches larger than your plywood pieces.
This extra length will give you enough overlap to cover your foam and wrap the fabric around the edges of the plywood before you staple it into place. When you finish assembling your cushions, you’ll hot glue them to the bottom of your milk crates. They’re not ready to use. As a bonus, the crate doubles as storage space.
Outdoor Bench Idea Nine – Twine Wrapped Tires
This outdoor bench idea repurposes old tires to turn them into durable and comfortable seating. If you have larger tires, it’s easy to make a bigger seating area for multiple people to enjoy. You’ll only need a few cost-effective items and tools to create this outdoor bench idea, including:
- New or used tire(s)
- Plywood cut into circles 55cm in diameter (two for each tire)
- Six screws
- 36 feet of twisted sisal rope
- Hot glue
- Hot glue gun
Before you start this project, you want to wipe the tire down with a damp cloth to get rid of any debris and give yourself a clean surface to work with. Let it dry completely. When it does, lay your tire on its side and put one of the plywood circles over it. You’ll three three holes at the edges of the plywood around the tire, and make sure they’re deep enough to go through the rubber. Screw your plywood to your tire, making sure that it’s a very tight and snug fit so they don’t work their way back out. Repeat these steps for the other side.
Unwind a few feet of your sisal rope and add a dot of hot glue to the center point of the plywood. Press the end of the rope into this glue to anchor your starting point. Start taking the rope around in a circle, keeping it very tight between rounds. Add glue to hold it in place, and work your way out until you get to the edge of the plywood. When you get here, glue all of the way around the edge, flip the tire over, and continue covering it with your sisal until you reach the edge of the board on the other side. When you get here, cut the sisal and glue it to the edge, leaving the bottom a sheet of bare wood. Apply a sealant to the sisal and allow it to dry.
Outdoor Bench Idea Ten – Galvanized Steel Bucket Bench
This final outdoor bench idea uses an old galvanized steel bucket and a slab of wood to create a short bench that will look right at home in your garden. You can also use this outdoor bench idea on your patio or along the walkways in your yard. You’ll need a few materials, including:
- Galvanized steel tub
- Sand paper
- One ¼-inch plywood
- 2×6 untreated wood
To start this best outdoor bench, flip your galvanized steel bucket upside down. You’ll lay your sheet of ¼-inch plywood on the top of your bucket, so you can cut it as large or as small as you like. This will be the base of your seat to add a little durability. Once you have it cut, sand the edges down so they’re smooth and have no splinters.
Next, line up your 2×6 untreated wood pieces over the top of the plywood and glue them into place. You should let this dry overnight and give the glue plenty of time to dry. Next, you can stain the pieces of wood and apply a layer of poly to seal out the elements. Add the top of the seat to your galvanized steel bucket and set it up where you want to sit.
These 10 best outdoor bench ideas will help you transform your living space. A few of them can double as an outdoor toy storage area, and you can decide if you want large or small benches around your yard. Take a look, see what you have on hand, and take a few hours to create these gorgeous benches and seats that will last for years.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.