Introduction: DIY Outdoor Bench

About: Part MacGyver, part Martha, creator, host and producer of Engineer Your Space, an award winning DIY home design show dedicated to clever, affordable and stylish solutions for common challenges faced by renters…

While working on my friend Lisa’s balcony, I was looking for a seating option that would maximize seating on her small and narrow balcony (it’s only 4.5 ft wide) and give her a place to lounge with her dog Leo. After looking at a few options, I decided to build a simple bench, much like the ones that I had built for my NYC apartment balcony. I tweaked the design a bit to make it wider so it was more like a sofa than a bench and I also added bracing to make it sturdier.


It only cost $30 in materials, plus the stain, and by having all the wood cut at the hardware store, it turned out to be a very quick build using very basic tools: a drill, drill bits and a speed square (clamps optional):

Bench dimensions: 52" long x 24 ¾”" wide x 16 3/4" high

Materials needed-

1”x 4” x 2 x 51”
1” x 4” x 2 x 19 ¼”

1”x 2” x 2 x 52”
1”x5” x 4 x 52”

Legs and bracing:
2”x3” Legs: 4 x 16”

2 x 19 ¼”, 1 x 45 ½”

Weatherproofing stain or paint

Exterior or decking screws (1 1/4", 2")

Step 1: Cut

Cut the pine boards and stud to size (I had mine cut at the hardware store).

Step 2: Build the Frame

You can use corner clamps to hold the pieces together (adding wood glue before doing this will make the joints stronger but skipping the glue will allow you to easily disassemble the bench later). Or you can go free hand - if going with that method, I recommend using a speed square to make sure that the boards are square.

Step 3: Drill Pilot Holes

Drill pilot holes and put in screws (use 1 1/4" screws). After the four sides are put together, add the 2 middle pieces for extra support. Again, using a speed square is helpful to make sure the pieces are square.

Step 4:

Place one of the top 1" x 4" on top of the frame so that it extends 1/2" past the edge of the frame at the ends and on the sides. Drill pilot holes and screw in place.

Step 5:

Screw in place the remaining pine boards, using a scrap piece of 1" x 4" as a spacer.

Step 6: Attach the Legs

You can simply hold the leg in place or you can use clamps to help the leg to the inside of one corner of the frame.

Drill pilot holes and screw in place (use 2" screws).

Step 7: Attach the Bracing

I like to mark where the bracing pieces join before attaching them.

Step 8:

Start with the bracing in between the legs, lining them up in the middle and using a scrap piece of 2”x3” to hold them up. Drill pilot holes and screw them in place with 2” screws.

Step 9: Attach Middle Bracing

Once both sides are done, attach the middle bracing, centered.

Step 10: Staining

And that’s it, your bench is done! After that all that was left was to stain the bench. I recommend staining all the wood prior to assembling it but you can also stain is after, like I did. It’s just a bit challenging to get in between the boards when it’s all assembled. I used a semi-transparent weatherproofing stain from BEHR (coffee color) and applied 2 coats.

Step 11: Add Cushions

For seat cushions, I used 2 HALO outdoor seat cushions from IKEA ($25 each) which are 24”x24”. Since the bench has a wall for a back, I was able to use outdoor pillows for the back.

Step 12: Add Accessories and Enjoy Balcony!

It was the perfect seating option for this balcony and you can watch the entire balcony makeover in this video.

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