New technology and manufacturing processes mean that concrete is no longer the ugly duckling of the outdoor furniture world – but has blossomed into an elegant swan. In short, concrete furniture is a great choice for a patio table – but will it last outside?
Concrete outdoor tables are extremely durable. If covered in the colder and wetter months, and annually treated with concrete sealant against weathering, UV rays and wine spillages – then your concrete table will last for decades.
Let’s dive down into this subject in more detail, and consider just exactly why concrete is good for outdoor dining tables, precisely how long it will last – and how to maintain it properly to prolong its life.
Is Concrete Good For Patio Dining Tables?
Yes. Concrete is a great choice for patio tables.
Concrete tables – you may be flashing back to those road trips where you stopped at state rest stops. They had concrete tables. Heavy (no stealing those tables!), functional and long-lasting, but – ugly. Soooo ugly.
But concrete’s ugly days are long gone. Sure, concrete can be grey, but concrete can also be molded into any shape, color, or texture. You’ll be surprised by concrete’s versatility. Concrete tables can have a modern look that goes with many patio furniture styles. It can be sleek, ornately molded or imposing.
Concrete can be rustic or glossy. Concrete’s smooth, sharp lines make a nice contrast to outdoor sofas and cushions. Concrete is a natural, warm choice. The look of concrete works with other table materials, like steel or wood.
It’s not by accident that most stores where you can buy patio furniture have some concrete choices. Home Depot, Lowes, Wayfair, and Pottery Barn all sell concrete patio tables, just to mention a few. Concrete is a popular choice because it’s functional, long-lasting and beautiful.
Let’s face it, outdoor tables take a beating. Not only do they take a beating from the weather but generally, we don’t take as much care of our outdoor furniture as we do our indoor ones.
Concrete tables are super sturdy. Take a look at the long warranties offered for outdoor concrete patio tables – up to 25 years. Some tables even have steel reinforcements.
Concrete resists scratching and chipping. But when that happens, they can be repaired much easier than most other materials.
Concrete is made with cement and an aggregate. Concrete made with a very fine-grained aggregate has a smooth finish. It can also be made with coarser materials, like small stones. Other materials, like plastic or ceramics, make the cement lighter.
Glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) lightens and reinforces concrete. Many aggregate materials come from the recycling process.
Concrete tables are non-toxic and food safe. They don’t off-gas like some plastics. They won’t catch fire. No blowing into the pool. High-quality cement won’t suffer from freeze-thaw cycles, so you don’t have to bring them in in the winter.
A concrete table will last forever. It won’t end up in a landfill in a couple of years. Plastic waste is a global problem. You could say concrete is a long-term green choice.
Does concrete crack? Yes, your concrete table will probably develop hairline cracks, but you can fix those with some concrete filler. Or leave them, for a more natural, rustic look. Your table can be perfectly imperfect.
For all you hard-core DIYers, here’s how to make a fantastic-looking concrete pub table with LED lights (and a cooler).
How Long Will a Concrete Table Last Outside?
To answer this question, let’s take a look at the history of concrete. Keep in mind, we know about this history because the concrete (not the civilization) is still around today.
The Mayans probably used concrete – at least it was referenced in journals. The first known use of concrete is from 6,500 BC. The Nabataea traders in Syria and Jordan created concrete floors, houses, and cisterns. Their cisterns survive today.
In 3,000 BC, the Egyptians used gypsum and lime mortars to create the Great Pyramids of Giza. The Great Wall of China was also built around then using a form of concrete.
Romans in 600 BC used concrete in most of their construction. They used a mix of volcanic ash, lime, and seawater. The exterior of the Roman Pantheon, finished in 128 AD, is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. The Colosseum is built largely of concrete.
Then, in 1793 John Smeaton used a modern version of concrete to rebuild the Eddystone Lighthouse in Cornwall, England. In 1824, Portland cement was invented by burning finely ground chalk and clay.
In 1849, steel rods were added to concrete buildings. The first steel-reinforced bridge was built by Joseph Monier in 1875.
Here’s the last concrete story: Thomas Edison, as well as inventing the light bulb, also began a trend in concrete furniture. He set up the Edison Portland Cement Company. One of his many innovative concrete furniture pieces was the concrete phonograph cabinet.
He also proposed concrete musical instruments. Just goes to show – you can’t win them all.
So, how long will your outdoor concrete table last outside? Answer – it will last for the ages. Years, tens of years, maybe even millennia.
Do Concrete Outdoor Tables Scratch Easily?
No, not at all. Cement is a hard material.
But, if you do manage to scratch it, it can be fixed easily. Long, thin scratches can be filled in with a cement filler or even grout. Use a premixed grout in your table’s color. You can fix chips the same way. Try some cement filler or grout.
First, fill in the crack or chip then use some medium-grained sandpaper (120-grit), then some finer paper (180+) to smooth out the filler.
Do Concrete Patio Tables Stain?
Yup. Concrete is surprisingly porous. Spill some wine on it and it might not come out.
But this failing can be fixed with a coating of high-quality concrete sealer. Sealers are sold in many stores. You can even buy a sealant that is also UV resistant, so your concrete won’t fade in the sun.
Or you can use beeswax or concrete floor wax. The good news is – one coating could be good for years – even decades!
Some experts recommend a product called a penetrating densifier. This product seals concrete by hardening the concrete. No need to apply a sealer because you’ve actually changed the porosity of the cement for the top few centimeters. If you’re not sure whether this is what you want, test out a small area that’s hidden from view and see if you like it.
If you have stained it accidentally, you can re-polish the table. The worst-case scenario – you can stain the entire table to mask the spill. You might even like the new color better.
How Do You Care For & Clean a Concrete Outdoor Table?
Here are some tips from a concrete patio table expert:
- Most cement patio tables come with a sealant. Ask when you buy. If yours didn’t, buy a high-quality cement sealer and apply it. Here’s a website with good advice on sealants. If you’re not sure whether you’ll like the sealant finish – too shiny? Then try a small area in a hidden spot first.
- When water doesn’t bead up on your table, that means that the sealant is getting old. Reapply sealant.
- Use trivets for hot objects. Hot objects won’t hurt the cement but may discolor the sealant.
- Clean up acidic spills like lemon juice or vinegar, which can discolor the sealant.
- Avoid using mechanical cleaning methods. Just use a spray of water and dish washing soap with a soft cloth.
- Use a non-abrasive cleaner to clean the table up after every meal. Avoid cleaners that use mild acids like lemon or vinegar. Often these are labeled “green” cleaners (and they are), but they aren’t good for the sealant.
- Avoid cleaners that have acetone or denatured alcohol. Also – no bleach.
- Avoid power washers or garden hoses with high-pressure nozzles.
- Seasonally, use a high-quality furniture wax, like carnauba wax or beeswax on your tabletop. To apply, use a damp, wrung-out cloth. Apply a thin layer of wax in a circular way to small areas. Remove excess wax. Go over the entire table and then buff it.
Do I Need To Cover My Concrete Patio Table?
Yes. Even though your concrete table will last for ages, you should cover it with your other outdoor furniture for the winter.
Concrete is an extremely durable material for making outdoor patio tables – and gone are the days when it just looked grey and boring too. New technology means concrete structures can now be elegant and functional pieces of outdoor furniture that last for decades.
You’ll still have to care for your concrete table though, even if it can be left outside all year round. A coat or two of concrete sealer every year will be enough to keep those UV rays and wine stains at bay, whilst also stopping any cracking from weathering. This means you’ll also need to keep your table covered in wetter and colder months too.
But if you take these cursory precautions you’ll be enjoying your concrete outdoor table for literally a lifetime. 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry James founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >