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Tabletop Design Ideas for drainage for a Nursing Home

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Tabletop Design Ideas for drainage for a Nursing Home

Post  toby8myshoe on 10/8/2012, 3:48 pm

Hi all!! We've been SFG for approx two years and my son wants to build a tabletop SFG for a local nursing home for his Eagle Scout Project. It will be used by the residents and incorporated into their treatment. We've looked as several designs and have decided on a 3'x7' w/ 4x4 legs and a 6" bed. We're hoping that this size will provide plenty of stability. Here are our questions:

1. Several of the residents have expressed an interest in using it for herbs as well as flowers. Are there any concerns with the wood we use? My son's goal is that this will be a box that will last for some time. We've ruled out decking lumber due to chemicals, composite lumber (vinyl/pvc) due to cost. We're thinking of using red cedar even though it's not the cheapest, but will fare well in the weather. For our garden at home, I've been using 2x6 pine and then slathering with white latex paint. Not sure if it's the best approach but it seems to protect the wood. Do you have any other suggestions?

2. We've made a couple tabletops with a plywood base and the plywood starts coming apart due to saturation. We've thought about painting and caulking but we're not sure if we should provide some drainage or if it's OK to be sealed on the bottom and sides? Residents will either wheel chair up to the table, sit in a chair around the table or stand and use the table for support. We really want to avoid leaking water and dirt onto the residents seated around the table. Any suggestions on bottom choices will be extremely helpful.

I apologize for the long post, but the idea is to build a Tabletop SFG that will be used by nursing home residents that plan to sit around the table. Any ideas to make it last, not leak and last for some time will be very much appreciated!!


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Re: Tabletop Design Ideas for drainage for a Nursing Home

Post  Unmutual on 10/8/2012, 4:21 pm

1) Pressure treated lumber is safe to use, as long as it's new(the old stuff had arsenic, the new stuff uses copper, Yellawood uses a different treatment, but is also supposed to be safe).

2) I've used wire mesh(1/2" squares) with a weed cloth on top for the underside of a TT SFG bed. You may have to put the weed cloth up the sides a little and staple it. You can just stable it to the bottom, between the wood and the wire mesh, also. I borrowed that idea from a display at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens.

You may want to invest a little more money and buy the vinyl coated mesh so there are no jagged edges underneath that can catch clothing or skin.


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Re: Tabletop Design Ideas for drainage for a Nursing Home

Post  bnoles on 10/8/2012, 6:16 pm

Hi Rick,

Drainage is going to be a must so don't even think about sealing the bottom off or you will soon have a real mess. Thinking about possible designs, one thing that comes to mind would be to go ahead with at least a 1/2 or even 3/4" marine grade plywood bottom drilled 1 (1/2") hole per SF as Mel recommends. You could then add a 2nd bottom of sheet metal or plastic a couple inches below the 1st bottom to catch the run off and divert it to a planned drainage area where no one would be seated.

It will take some further thinking and design planning, but I think you get the idea. I recently built my 4X4 TT and used the 4X4" legs with 2X8" sides and a plywood bottom supported with cross members every 18" to take the load off the ply. You can see a picture of it in my avatar. It appears to be very sturdy and should last many years.

Good luck on your project and you are lucky to have such a special son that wants to help seniors in such an awesome way.


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Re: Tabletop Design Ideas for drainage for a Nursing Home

Post  walshevak on 10/8/2012, 7:00 pm

I like the idea of using a second layer of a solid material and diverting the water to an open section where no one is sitting. Even a layer of plastic tacked below the bottom of the bed could be used in a pinch. I also use 1/2 wire mesh on the bottoms of my tabletops. And additional support under the wire is essential. The last thing you want is a bottom collapsing into the laps of your nursing home patients.

I commend your scout on a very worth project.



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Re: Tabletop Design Ideas for drainage for a Nursing Home

Post  camprn on 10/8/2012, 7:12 pm

I think Boffer uses angle iron to hold the bottom of his table top beds in. Toby, use the search feature at the bottom of the "Latest Topics" list on the left to find numerous threads about table tops. Good luck with the project and please do come back and post some photos of the final product!

glad you\'re here to the SFG Forum!


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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau



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Re: Tabletop Design Ideas for drainage for a Nursing Home

Post  toby8myshoe on 10/9/2012, 10:46 am

Thanks for the great ideas!! I just assumed that pressure treated decking lumber was out of the question, that is a huge cost saver!! Also the idea of the dual bottoms seems like that will do the trick. We're going to do some sketches and work on a prototype.

I'll post photos as we move along.

Thank You so much for your help!!

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Re: Tabletop Design Ideas for drainage for a Nursing Home

Post  toledobend on 10/9/2012, 11:16 am

I just finished a box using Hardie Siding (4x8 sheet) for the bottom. I cut it in half to make two 4'x4' pieces. It's concrete so it should last forever (I let a piece soak in water for a week and there was no change). It is thin, so it will need some support. I put four 2"x6"x4' runners on bottom to stiffen it up and to also make it portable. I put it on 5 stacks of blocks (one at each corner and one in the middle) right next to the house (to keep the dog from peeing on it). The only problem with the Hardie materials is you absolutely must not breath in the dust when you cut it (wear a mask). It was about $16 so I think it was cheaper than a sheet of plywood.

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