Outdoor Patio Table

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Forum topic by Sidehobby posted 08-03-2017 04:26 PM 566 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 746 days

08-03-2017 04:26 PM

Currently in final design stage for an outdoor table made from reclaimed barn siding. I was able to get barn siding that was already prepped for the intended purpose as hardwood floors. So the boards are tongue and groove. And while that would be great for an indoor table my gut is that I need to rip them down to standard square edge to allow for a 1/4 inch gap in between for expansion and to avoid puddling. The table will be covered most of the time when not in use.
I hate to remove the tongue and groove so wanted to see opinions on any options to use the T&G on the outdoor table either through a sealer (spar/oil/epoxy) or using plywood underneath?
I also plan on keeping up with an annual maintenance of the table top….I like tung oil finish to avoid sheen but worry about whether that would hold up a year in the Northeast.

6 replies so far

View JCamp's profile


996 posts in 1000 days

#1 posted 08-03-2017 05:41 PM

My first thought is just don’t do it.
If you are set on it and will always keep it covered so that water doesn’t set on it then go for it with no gaps.
If water will get on it and you still don’t want the gaps then id make it slope so the water will run off and then seal with a real good deck sealer.
Other than that some other folks that have more experience might have some other ideas but I just don’t see it lasting long IF it is left uncovered from the elements and its not treated in some way to prevent the water from entering it and rotting it out

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View Sidehobby's profile


3 posts in 746 days

#2 posted 08-03-2017 05:48 PM

Thanks JCamp – I am committed to the table, though not committed to keeping the T&G. My gut says rip them down to square edge planks, but wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing an opportunity. My thought is even covered the natural humidity in the great state of NJ would cause even aged barn siding to swell. I plan on sealing pre and post assembly either way. thanks again.

View tmasondarnell's profile


114 posts in 2239 days

#3 posted 08-03-2017 05:55 PM

I would remove the T&G and install them with a gap.

You are putting this table outside. Even though it was be covered, the humidity level is going to vary significantly. Even if you seal the wood, there will be a lot of wood movement, especially across the grain (sealer just slows the rate of change of moisture, it does not stop it).

If you leave the T&G or mount it on plywood, you are asking for problems.

View clin's profile


1051 posts in 1445 days

#4 posted 08-03-2017 08:49 PM

I agree with the concerns about water drainage with the tongue and groove. Expansion is NOT an issue. That’s what T&G is for. If you were to use it, put some space between the boards to allow for expansion. Also, T&G locks the boards together so it functions more as one surface.

But the point of T&G is to allow for expansion and contraction, yet not have a “see through” gap. But since these would be horizontal, water won’t drain as easily (as mentioned in the OP). Also, moisture will tend to accumulate in the grooves risking rot. Finish won’t seal these. Because again, the wood will expand and contract breaking any seal.

Of course you could pre-finish the boards before assembly. And this will help, but I think this would only delay the inevitable. The fewer nooks and crannies that moisture can be trapped in, the better.

So I agree, remove the T&G and build it with a gap. There’s a reason this is common for outdoor wood furniture.

-- Clin

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3 posts in 746 days

#5 posted 08-03-2017 11:05 PM

Great thank you both for the insight. Good point about the T&G. I think ultimately the safest bet is build with the gap and eliminate the issue.

View TungOil's profile


1300 posts in 944 days

#6 posted 08-04-2017 02:56 AM

If this were my project, I would definitely cut off the tenons and build with a generous gap, say 1/4”. I would also seal it well with a spar varnish or similar to protect it from the elements. Tung oil is not durable enough for outdoor projects.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

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