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Thread: Outdoor Table Design?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    470

    Outdoor Table Design?

    I'm looking to build several outdoor tables for my pub. They will be outdoors all year round, but under a covered patio, so no direct water. (Well, spilled beer, but not rain).

    I'd like to avoid gaps in the boards if possible (a-la picnic table) or at the least minimize these gaps. Region is central Texas.
    Anyone have ideas?

    Another consideration is that I'd like the tops to be as flat as possible as much board-gaming is done on these tables.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
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    9,645
    So the requirements are: flat, no gaps; and pretty water resistant. Formica on plywood would fill those requirements.

  3. #3
    I'm in the Dallas area so I know the weather here. For an outdoor table the sun would be the only issue and if it's covered a table should be easy enough. Still anytime you have furniture outdoors you have to keep an eye on it and give it maintenance when necessary. You know eventually someone will be carving on the table with a knife. As long as these places are repaired when ever you find them you should be alright. It would be best if you would choose a wood that does well outdoors anyway. You could use pressure treated pine as long as the wood was dried first. It comes from the factory dripping wet and if it's not dry a finish won't adhere and also the wet wood is prone to warp. I'm doing just a deck for someone right now that I purchased the wood and stacked and stickered the wood and allow it to dry a month before I do the job. If you want a nicer wood you might use white oak. White oak hold up well outdoors where red oak turns black and rots easily if gotten wet.

    There really isn't any reason you have to have gaps in the top. As long as you allow for wood movement you can glue up an entire picnic table top in one piece. Over time the width of the top will shrink and you have to mount the top in a manor that the top is allowed to shrink.

    For a finish wood outdoors experiences more wood movement than interior wood so you need a finish that is elastic enough to deal with that movement. A marine grade spar varnish would be a good finish for that application. Epifanes is the best. It is available at places that sell boat supplies. A cheaper spar I've had good luck with is Cabot spar varnish. I'm able to get it at the Lowe's near me.

  4. #4
    Erich, did you ever find plans and build this table? I'm looking to do the same. Strangely, I can't find much on the web or in the WW magazines I subscribe to. Mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    McKean, PA
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    13,562
    What size table are you looking for? Round, rectangular, or other? Preferred base type?
    Lee Schierer
    Captain USNR(Ret)

    My advice, comments and suggestions are free, but it costs money to run the site. If you found something of value here please give a little something back by becoming a contributor! Please Contribute

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Inkerman, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    895
    Teak...............

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hennebury View Post
    Teak...............
    $40 per board foot

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Inkerman, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    895
    Only got to buy it once!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    $40 per board foot

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    825
    For a finish go to a SW paint store and get some # 4 tint base (or whatever they call it now.) Has all the benefits of paint but dries clear and shows off the wood. Much cheaper than Ephianes.

  10. #10
    3/4 “ good one side plywood covered with glued on cotton duck (aka “light canvas”) . Glue and wrap top and edges . Glue and tuck under
    to bottom. Prime and paint. Repaint when you see any wear. Old proven method that was used on porch floors etc. Can be left in rain if
    top is left with blocks under table legs for quick drainage.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Los Angeles, California
    Posts
    476
    Mel is spot on, forgot about this

    We bought a circa 1901 home with an outdoor porch that had this construction. Worked until 2010 when we re did the area.
    Regards,

    Tom

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    7,466
    MDO. Works great for outdoor signs and will work great for you tabletops, too. As long as the edges are sealed it is nearly impervious to the weather.

    John

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    470
    Hi Mel. Interesting. Seems like canvas would trap the water against the plywood and destroy it in short order. If it works for boats and Thomas' porch... must be something to it.
    Will try googling to see examples.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Inkerman, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    895
    Why not just use plywood and epoxy paint , should last about 20 years.

  15. #15
    Erich, many years ago ,19th century or earlier, they just used the paint as the adhesive as well as the weather protection. I use Tite-bond 2,
    then coat with acrylic primer and paint.

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