Before and After: A $2 Patio Table Makeover

published Jun 13, 2018
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(Image credit: Sydney)

This glass-topped patio table was acquired for the sweet price of $0, but it had a few issues. Enter our reader Sydney, armed with a vision, an X-Acto knife, and $2. Oh, and incredible amounts of patience and precision.

(Image credit: Sydney)

This is so incredibly fun and poppy now! It’s stylish, playful, and nothing but fun—the perfect vibe for relaxing on the patio. I love how the orange-red paint works with the terracotta pots, but I really love that there’s no discernible pattern to the triangles. It makes it feel so much more relaxed, and invites the eye to examine it further. The black metal frame of the table contrasts nicely with the painted triangles and grounds the bright colors.

(Image credit: Sydney)

Our reader Sydney had a clear vision for this project, and a couple of clear issues to resolve:

This table started its life somewhere in Pennsylvania and made its way to me as a freebie with some other used patio furniture I bought on Craigslist. The glass top had originally had some sort of white-ish laminate coating on the underside of the glass, but this coating was either removed or chipped off by the previous owner, leaving flakes of laminate hanging on here and there. The top of the glass had some pretty bad scratches, and it always looked dirty. The whole thing was generally dirty and unsightly.

I’ve been working on revamping our patio space for the summer, and this table was an eyesore. The top always was dirty. On top of that, our patio is pretty small, so we have to store some extra items under the table. Because the glass was clear, the under-the-table-mess always seemed to pop out whenever I looked at the table! I love geometric patterns and have been wanting to incorporate one into a project for a while… this table fit the bill!

Looking for a similar glass patio table? Try these:

(Image credit: Sydney)

As if I wasn’t already impressed enough with Sydney, this project was completed during preps for a major move.

This project took me a week, working mostly in the evenings after work and on the weekend. I’m preparing for a long cross-country move in the fall (mid-Atlantic to California!), so I’m penny-pinching at the moment. I don’t even know if my next apartment will have a patio yet! I had some leftover paint from other projects laying around, and supplemented them with a $2 can of white spray paint from Dollar General… so the total cost was $2, plus leftover paint and painting tape supplies I already had.

I wanted triangles, and I thought I could use an X-acto to cut triangles out of painter’s tape to achieve the effect. I started by disassembling the table and cleaning it, then laid out straight lines of painter’s tape across the underside of the glass. I printed an equilateral triangle that was the same width as my painter’s tape (this way, you only have to use the X-acto on two sides of each triangle), then traced around it a bunch of times on the tape until I could start to see the pattern emerge. I used a long straight edge from my sewing supplies to trace out straight lines to complete the pattern (I messed this part up a few times and had to redo it, so good thing I traced in pencil!).

After I had the pattern traced onto the painter’s tape, I labeled each triangle with a color. I used an exacto knife and a straight edge to cut out the triangles for my first color and painted them with a brush. After that layer of paint dried, I cut out the next set of triangles for the next color and painted them. I repeated this process four times, for each color, doing the last two colors with spray paint. The paint layers overlap on the bottom, but since it’s the underside of the glass you can’t tell from above (I learned this technique from another Apartment Therapy before/after!).

This project requires such painstaking, exacting techniques, so three cheers to Sydney for pulling it off.

(Image credit: Sydney)

But sometimes there are situations that even the most impressively precise people can’t resolve completely:

There were definitely some challenges in this project. For one, I used leftover paint in my house… which included chalk paint, wall paint, and spray paint. It turns out that latex wall paint is not ideal for this sort of project… after the latex paint dried, I tried to cut out my next set tape triangles only to find that the latex paint stuck to the tape and would peel straight back off the glass! I managed to smooth it all out, but spray paint was by far the easiest of all the paints I used. If I were going to do this again, I think I’d just invest in a few bucks of colored spray paint instead of my other paint leftovers.

Another issue is that the legs of the table didn’t fully come off, so there were a few parts of the glass that were not easy to reach via spray paint or brush. If you were to look closely at the finished table, particularly around the outside edges, you can definitely see some imperfections where the legs attach. But the defects aren’t too noticeable from a distance.

One last challenge is that it’s very hard to get all the painter’s tape out. Cutting out the first set of triangles was easy, but as the paint starts to build up on the back, you can’t tell as easily if you’ve cut a full triangle (or left a tiny sliver of blue painter’s tape, obscured to your eye by the previous layer of dried paint).

I didn’t notice any tiny imperfections in the photos of the completed table, and I certainly wouldn’t notice any if I were sitting at it with a cocktail in my hand. I hope that Sydney, who knows exactly where they are, is able to ignore them!

(Image credit: Sydney)

This looks so great, and, fortunately, Sydney seems pretty jazzed about it:

I think it looks a billion times better than before! It adds a bright pop of color to what was a bland patio corner, and the pattern makes it harder to see dirt and water lines/dust that come from the weather. It makes me smile when I see it, and to me that’s worth it, even in spite of the imperfections that are there if you look up close.

Again, I appreciate the realities that are being dealt with here. Unless you happen to have a patio butler who cleans your outdoor furniture several times a day, anything you keep outside is bound to show the effects of weather. Any piece that makes those effects less-noticeable (a little dust or streaking from water drying does not make a table, like, dirty) is a keeper.

Thank you, Sydney!