In the age of social distancing, we’ve become pros at spending heavy amounts of leisure time outside. Outdoor games have surged in popularity, from the usual sports to more niche activities (think axe-throwing). But when you want to relax and shoot the breeze without wheezing, outdoor games that you can play on the patio are the answer.
After a couple of solid years of yard games, we were ready for new activities to do with family and friends. We were seeking outdoor games suitable for all ages, without being so challenging that the less coordinated would just throw in the towel early on (think spike ball). And we’re kind of over yard games like Giant Jenga and cornhole.
Our solution: outdoor table tennis and shuffleboard tables designed and built for outside use.
What’s the Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Game Tables?
First, full disclosure: our team at Union Wood Co has been making indoor game tables for table tennis and shuffleboard for a few years now, and they’re one of our most popular items aside from wood dining tables.
Figuring out how to make the games tables suitable for a range of weather - from Vancouver’s temperate rainforest to the intensely sunny days of summer - would be the main difference between indoor and outdoor tables. We had to carefully choose enduring, high-quality raw materials.
After a fair amount of research, here’s our answer:
- Compact laminate for a larger playing surface like table tennis. This innovative material consists of layers of kraft paper coated in an impenetrable clear resin. And the icing on the cake is the range of convincing wood grains and solid colors that compact laminate offers.
- Solid wood finished with a waterproof clear coat for the outdoor shuffleboard tables. This transparent sealant coats the surface of porous materials to prevent water damage.
- Powder-coated aluminum for the table frames. Already durable and resistant to corrosion, adding the thick powder coating to aluminum increases its indestructibility. It won’t chip, so it can’t be penetrated by moisture.
As a result, we’ve developed outdoor shuffleboard and ping pong tables to withstand various weather conditions, without losing our original clean-lined, contemporary designs.
Although we’re happy with the choice of these weather-resistant materials, leaving outdoor game tables outside in conditions like snow or torrential rains isn’t recommended. Guarantee any outdoor furniture’s longevity by covering it up and moving it to a sheltered spot.
Shuffleboard is the ideal game to engage non-sporting friends in. It’s easy and no particular talents are necessary–-although things can get competitive fast. You can play with four people at a time.
For some, outdoor shuffleboard brings up images of retirees playing on cruise ship decks. While shuffleboard courts are fun, they require a lot more space and cue sticks. Outdoor shuffleboard tables, however, are narrower, are easily moved by two people, and only require pucks.
Our outdoor shuffleboard’s specs are 24” w x 34" h and 7', 9' or 12' in length and comes in two styles of bases:
- The Break has an angled frame similar to the supportive beams found in industrial areas and bridge construction. Its transitional design allows it to work in a variety of environments.
The Column has two rolled aluminum cylinders as the base. It’s a bolder look meant to blend into modern settings.
Frames are available in black, white, or a custom colour request. We use hard wearing oak wood for the playing surface with a waterproof clear coat.
Despite the use of these durable, weather-resistant materials, it’s a good idea to protect the shuffleboard’s wood surface when not in use with an aluminum hardshell cover. Some folks who get attached to their games (not us, obviously) might prefer to bring their table indoors during the winter months to enjoy continued use.
Outdoor Table Tennis
Table tennis offers a faster-paced fun alternative, and pretty much anyone can play. And like shuffleboard, up to 4 people can play at a time.
The outdoor table tennis tabletop is constructed from compact laminate, so it’s impact- and water-resistant. The table’s base and net are constructed from ultra-durable powder coated aluminum. In other words, they won’t rust. Every table is built to order in our Vancouver workshop, giving you the opportunity to choose the laminate colour, including realistic-looking wood grains and solid hues.
The other difference with our outdoor table tennis table is the removable net. Pop it off and your game table becomes a dining table or extra surface for entertaining. What’s not to love about functional furniture, let alone double-duty game tables?
Just like the outdoor shuffleboard tables above, there are two styles of frames:
- The Break - serves up serious style with its sturdy angled frame. It looks great on almost any type of patio or deck.
The Column - this one swings in a different direction: more commanding and modern (see below).
The weather is starting to be nice enough to socialize outside again. Bring friends and family together, but put those tired yard games away, and up the ante with an outdoor game table. We guarantee hours of gameplay and good times!