Exteriors

Published on August 17th, 2013 | by Henri

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Restoring a weather-damaged picnic table

Q.    Now I know why all our neighbors in our retirement community have glass picnic tables. After ten years, our lovely redwood has a large dark area with soft fibers. We do cover it for the winter but that must not be adequate.

If it’s possible to renew it, we will cover the top with glass. We can cover the seats with protective covers in the summer. We had these all under a patio roof before and never suspected that constant wetness would harm them. We thought redwood was impervious to rain.

A.    Heartwood redwood (and for that matter, many other trees’ heartwood) is more resistant to decay than summer growth, but most picnic tables and benches are not likely to be made with heartwood.

Depending on the size and depth of the damaged area, it may be possible to get it repaired. If the top of the affected spot is still level, you may be able to “harden” the softened wood with a product like Minwax High Performance Wood Hardener. If it has softened but the damaged area is not too deep, you may be able to dig it up and fill it with Minwax High Performance Wood Filler, or any epoxy product used to repair auto fenders, etc. But it won’t be redwood; you’ll have to stain it or paint it.

However, if the area is quite large, it is simpler to replace the affected board. All wood picnic tables I have ever seen are built with several 2-inch by 6-inch planks cleated together. Any skilled handy person or carpenter can do it easily. Once the repairs have been performed, clean the table and treat it with a wood preservative every year or two. You can get a preservative with a redwood stain.

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