Help! How Should I Treat This Wood Table To Preserve It For Outdoor Use?

I’ve been looking for an outdoor prep station table for the new grill online and anything decent has been around $100 or it was plasticky looking schlock.  Neither one were options I wanted to act on.

Yesterday to my good fortune I was driving by a yard sale and they had a beautiful old table, the perfect height with two layers to hold food, and grilling equipment. $15 is all it cost.

So here’s the thing.  I don’t want to spend a lot of time or money restoring this table.  I’d just like to do whatever I can with an hour’s worth of elbow greasy and less than $25 in materials to protect it from the elements, knowing it will be left outdoors. 

How would you restore this table and protect it from the elements using the parameters I listed above?  Toby suggested lightly sanding it using a coarse scothch brite pad and then using polyurethane.  Does this seem like the best rout to you?

David Calvo? Anyone else that knows about wood, what are your thoughts?


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17 thoughts on “Help! How Should I Treat This Wood Table To Preserve It For Outdoor Use?

  1. 2 years ago we put Benjamin Moore exterior alkyd semi solid stain on a picnic table. The stain is still perfect and survived outside this past winter. I would go into Ben’s Paint and ask the owner.


  2. Polyurethane would be good, but it will look “glossy” so if you don’t like that you could use an oil based stain instead. Problem with oil based stain is that you’d need to clean the table thoroughly otherwise the stain won’t penetrate.

    Whatever you do, don’t use that Thomspon’s Waterseal stuff. I’ve used it many times before and it’s not that good, doesn’t last very long, and leaves the surface tacky. I used to use it on decks but have switched to a quality oil-based stain there, now – like TWP brand. That might be overkill for your needs, though…


  3. What? You have the fancy-schmancy cover for your grill but can’t cut up an old tarp for the table? 😉
    Me? I would also go with the boiled linseed oil.


  4. Joey. You are going to have to sand it a little so that the finish can mechanically bite into the wood. Once that is done you could buy a small can of deck finish with a stain in it and it would have all the weathering preserves in it. You can also put a watco oil finish on it. They come in small cans with a tint in it and then follow it up with a coat of clear hard finish semi gloss. All said, i would hunt around for a contractor or someone who has a little extra deck paint left over from a job. You don’t need that much to give it a facelift and then you can get back to being the Grilling King


  5. you could use linseed oil but you need to sand first apply coat linseed oil let dry rough sand when dry use tack rag to get sawdust off then linseed oil this procedure should be done at least 4 times easy way might be to paint with marine paint which i used to rain weather etc


  6. No matter what you do, it is not going to stand up terribly well to full time outdoors. The fastenings are not intended for outdoors and the top is likely to split. I tend to use boiled linseed oil with turpentine and tung oil for such work, but I am not sure about food handling on such a surface. Perhaps for that reason use the polyurethane. By all means cover it with glass as Paul suggested or something and make a nice cover to keep the rain off when not using it. You can get a tarp that is not blue 🙂


  7. Don’t use any of the deck stain or wood preservatives on a surface that will be used for food preparation. Seriously, make sure you won’t be poisoning yourself. I would paint it. I’ve spent my life taking paint off of furniture, but the right paint will preserve the table, be washable (unlike oils), and won’t get water rings. Paint it to match or compliment your grill – but not black, it will “cook” the wood as it absorbs the sun’s heat. Hopefully, you won’t leave it out over the winter. You might have trouble with it becoming unglued. Don’t let the legs sit directly on the ground – they will wick water.


  8. Best thing I can think of for your table is West System epoxy. I use it in the boat for wood parts that are often submerged in the bilge, and I get a lot of rain water in my bilge (a Rhodes 19). The rain water can sit in there for a week or more before I get it pumped out. One thing about epoxy is that it is generally non-toxic when cured; you should check with the manufacturer to be sure. Rose’s sells the stuff. I would sand it as much as you can because once you apply the epoxy the wood texture will be permanent. You should use a slower curing hardener to give you more pot life while you apply it. Even at that, you might have to do multiple batches. Do it on a relatively cool day and in the shade.

    You can wet sand the epoxy to a pretty fine finish and even polish it if you want. I would put a couple of coats on the top, sanding in between to build the thickness up. One coat on the legs, etc. should be fine. You aren’t going to get a fine furniture look, but then it isn’t fine furniture.


  9. If you’re using to prepare food, rub it down with mineral oil frequently. Mineral oil will help protect the wood, and it won’t poison you. You could also ‘garden dress’ it and use vegetable or olive oil, but those oils can start to smell over time. You might not even notice the smell if you’re leaving it outside.

    Before applying the first coat of oil, rub the whole thing down with paint thinner and allow it to evaporate. This prep step will make the wood more accepting of the oil into the grain.


  10. Okay… here is my $0.12 worth of advice. Sand it down with 120~180. Don’t Fuss! just sand it. Buy a 1QT can of ‘Waterlox’! Don’t put urethane on it, don’t paint it, use ‘WATERLOX’… 3~4 coats. Go See Anthony Saputo, Andy Orlando or Dom Francis, get a piece of glass for it, put some a 3″ rubber O ring under every corner so it will remain taut and in place. and Done. Awesome looking table, will stand up to Artic weather for YEARS, the glass can be wiped down, and for $60.00 it will bring you happiness. WATERLOX!!!!!! greatest wood preservative on this earth. Makes any wood look like caribbean mahogany.


  11. Hello,
    I’m from northern Canada and I just finished a carved sign that will be hung outside in the weather. After I sealed it with Watco clear sealer I coated it with Beauti-tone Hardrock High Build clear Coat Sealer, with Urethane. The sealer is meant for driveways and walkways and I heard it could be used on wood. The sign turned out great and I am please with the result.


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