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April 2010
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Outdoor Table Repairs

This is an end view of a popular outdoor table. Call it Table 1. Wood top and seats and metal legs. The boards have warped and ‘cupped’.  Notice the cracking on the end of the boards. More on that later.

Here is another table from the same yard. Call it Table 2.

The difference between these two tables is the paint. Not the brand, not the type, but the coverage. Table two’s wood was completely painted, (all 6 sides) and table 1 was not.
Table 1 was painted a few years ago, and here is one of the seats. Notice the cracks. The paint is only failing where there are cracks that have broken the ‘skin’. This is not a paint failure, this is an application failure.

This is why this table’s wood failed. Because the bottom was not painted or primered,  the weather in Arizona destroyed these boards. Because the wood was not sealed on all sides, the elements and especially heat, sucked the moisture out of the wood and accelerated the damage process.

There is no repair as the wood has dried past the point where any salvage is possible. If you are going to have wood furniture, protect it by sealing it completely. If  you are going to repaint or seal wood furniture, disassemble as far as practical, clean it, sand it , fill it, re prime and repaint. A little time now or a lot of money later.

Since I am replacing the wood, I am adding a bit of blocking to the end of each board. This will cover the end grain of the planks and minimize damage and end grain cracking like you saw in the first photo of table 1. These blocks were ripped from an 2x and were glued(powergrab) and screwed (3” deck screws with countersunk holes drilled beforehand).

This serves two purposes. Stop the current cracking and minimize future damage.

Since wood is an organic material, there is always defects that you can work around. Sometimes. Twisting, warping, cupping, excess moisture, pitch and mold are just a few things to look for when selecting wood.

Modern wood is shit. I don’t care what they brand it as, or how how carefully they grade it, the big box stores are there to move product. I started at the blue store, looking for 8′ material but thinking that I would need 10′ material and have to cut the ends off to get defect free material. We were out of there in 5 minutes, the selection was so bad.

Went to the orange store and spent 30 mins. digging through the stacks to find 4 2×12” for seats and 6 2×10” for the decks. Was able to find 8′ material so I wasn’t going to waste lumber by cutting down 10′ material.  The most surprising thing about this was the width of the boards. A 2×10”  board in theory is 1 1/2” x 9 1/2‘ 9 1/4′ nominal.  (hattip to Derek @ Kensington Bungalow ) There is a certain amount of variation but usually it is small. The material I picked up measured between 9 7/16” down to 9” even.  Modern wood is shit. But I will make it work.

4 comments to Outdoor Table Repairs

  • If you look at the rings on the wood, it looks like it’s “bark side down”. I’ve heard it’s best to have wood the other way, so it doesn’t hold as much water. Tried this on my deck, we’ll see how it lasts. I’ve always heard that a 2×10 is 9.25″ wide, maybe it’s a regional thing.

  • Great post – covering the endgrain is a huge step in keeping the wood preserved.

    You’re right – Today’s wood stinks!

  • Torrance

    Trust me, the wood in the states is a lot better than the crap available in Afghanistan!

  • Derek,
    you are right, they are 9 1/4. So much stuff so many measurements.