At the end of every holiday season we plan our out-of-season gite maintenance work. Usually it’s a combination of minor replacements (of small electrical equipment, furniture, etc) and buildings maintenance (redecoration, interior or exterior painting, flooring, replacement of fittings and major equipment) and it gets done sometime between Christmas and Easter.
But, in reality, keeping up with the general wear-and-tear maintenance is an ongoing job – it never stops. We had already planned to replace the picnic table on the patio at Sandboys Dune before the start of next year’s letting season, and then, suddenly, the job became more urgent. The old timbers in its benches and table-top began to sag. The rot had finally weakened the most exposed wooden parts beyond repair, and it was no longer capable of seating a family for an outdoor meal.
Initially I thought of simply buying a new picnic table. This one was 8 years old, after all. When I found out how much that was going to cost I began to consider more economical (and ecological) alternatives.
The newly-restored picnic table, back on the patio at Sandboys Dune
On close inspection it was clear that the base of the table was relatively sound and that it was only the table-top and benches that needed replacement, so I went out and bought 15 euros worth of pine planks. These needed cutting down from 3 metres to 1.5 metres – done in a jiffy with my hand-held Bosch circular saw. Then these pieces needed cutting down from 22cm wide to 10cm – easy again with the same tool. Some 5 cm wide pieces were needed too – piece of cake! (anyone from Bosch want to sponsor this blog?).
Having cut all the right pieces and stained and varnished them ready to be installed, I took a look at the base section. It was in pretty good shape, but there were some design flaws which gave it a tendancy to wobbliness. With some deft cutting and shaping (Newstar electric mitre saw, Stanley Surform, Ryobi Orbital sander – blog sponsorship still available!) I installed some bracing that completely eliminated the original instability. More stain and varnish – job done!
One week later, the totally refurbished, sleek and glossy picnic table is back at Dune, ready for another 8 or 10 years.
By then I reckon it will only have cost our gite budget 2 euros a year in capital and maintenance costs – and even then it might only need a couple of cheap pine planks to last 8 more years.
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