Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Thrifty Thinking: Make a Custom Picnic Table from an Old Door

By Merri Cvetan

I love to entertain, whether it’s a big party, a small, intimate affair, a planned event or an impromptu gathering of friends and family. I love spending time working on a party theme and deciding which dishes and linens to use. I put just as much thought and planning into a picnic as I do to an indoor dinner—and that includes the furniture.
Depending on the size of your patio and family, a big picnic table might not be practical for daily use. But for those occasions when you need more eating surfaces in your backyard, you can design and make your own outdoor table. Here’s how.
Almost any door can serve as a table, but a flat, even surface is better than a paneled door, unless you plan to add a glass top. I chose to use a pair of hollow core doors from a recent renovation. They weigh less and are easier to move than a solid wood door. Except for the doorknob holes, the doors were in excellent condition. I could have filled in the holes, but I chose not to. They make the perfect place to insert an umbrella on sunny days.
After sanding off the old finish, I applied a coat of white, water-based latex exterior primer. It dries fast, acts as a stain blocker and provides a mildew-resistant coating. Or, you can skip a step by using a paint and primer in one. You get the same durability and dirt and mildew protection in one gallon. I like a semi-gloss finish for exterior surfaces.
Choosing a color for your picnic table is even easier than picking a shade for your interior furniture—there are no rules to follow! I went with a pretty aqua just because it screams “summer.” Plain old paint is fine, but I wanted to add a decorative treatment. That way, there is no need to use a tablecloth.
After two paint coats dried, I placed strips of painter’s tape on the tabletop in a random pattern. Painter’s tape has a medium adhesion so it won’t damage the new paint surface and gives your design a nice, sharp edge. I used a small roller to fill in the space between the strips of tape with white paint. After it dried, I carefully removed the tape to reveal a one-of-a-kind design.
The last step was to rest the doors on top of a base. Sawhorses make the perfect base for a picnic table. Heavy duty folding sawhorses are easy to move and store, but provide enough stability to hold a door or two. The result is a lightweight table that is both pretty and functional.
When someone asks who made the potato salad at your next outdoor bash, tell them you did—right after you made the picnic table!

Merri Cvetan is a crafty designer who likes to incorporate custom designs in her spaces. One of her favorite tools of the trade is paint. She offers some great paint tips for DIYs and updating your decor. To get inspired, check out the complete line of paints at The Home Depot.

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