I bought a fire table and got a beige cube instead. How to dress it up?
September 30, 2017 4:16 AM   Subscribe

We recently bought this gas fire table for our patio. Now that we've got it unpacked, we see the owner's manual issues dire warnings against leaving the unit exposed, meaning we are supposed to cover it with its cheap vinyl cover whenever not in use. So instead of the pretty little patio addition I was hoping for, we are stuck looking at an ugly beige plastic cube for most of the year. How can I dress this up?

The surface is Envirostone, a marble, stone and resin composite. The owner's manual states that it should be covered whenever not in use, although it doesn't say exactly what bad things will happen if it sees weather. The plastic cover is basically a fitted beige tablecloth that covers both top and sides all the way to the ground. Options we've considered are cutting down the plastic cover to just cover the top, thereby minimizing the wall of beige; spray painting the cover to something less offensive; making a new cover of clear plastic (requiring a sewing machine purchase, not necessarily a bad thing!) ; or just leaving it uncovered and letting nature have her way. We destroyed the box in the unpacking process, so it's not returnable. It will be visible from inside the house, so just resolving to remove the cover whenever we're sitting outside only solves the problem part of the time. Any other ideas? What would you do to redeem this eyesore into something at least tolerable to look at?
posted by mama penguin to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
If you're at all handy, maybe you could make a wooden cover/lid that can double as a table leaf. It should be waterproof and weather resistent.

It would make your fire table into a normal patio table when it's not being used, and it would shield the top of it, which I presume is the most vulnerable part, from weather exposure. And if it sticks out a bit on all sides, the base would be partially protected too.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:31 AM on September 30, 2017 [5 favorites]

1) It required assembly? Could you operate the thing without the decorative stones? If so, maybe build a new skin of marble scraps, or stone bits, or wood, or whatever. Find a kitchen remodeller, they have tons of really nice scraps, or a bldg supply recycler.

2) I suspect that the glue in the EnviroStone is not UV-resistant, so not using the cover will result in the thing falling apart in a few years. So you might spray it with UV-resist spray. Before you go this route, check to see how hot the top ledge and the sides get and see that the spray you choose is rated for it. Also, test a patch, maybe the underside of the ledge or turn the thing upside down and hit the bottom edge.

3) Paint the thing. Could go natural colors, or could go expressionistic, or kid's primary colors, or whatever. Again, test whether you'll need a hi-temp paint, i doubt you will since the flame is probably very controlled.

4) Stucco it.

5) Same as option 1, but don't remove the original skin. Just pile, or glue marble strips to each surface.

As you say, do nothing. Then visit these options in 3 or 4 years.
posted by at at 4:56 AM on September 30, 2017

I wouldn't assume it's non-returnable just because you destroyed the box. At least ask, if you haven't already.
posted by amtho at 5:42 AM on September 30, 2017 [5 favorites]

it doesn't say exactly what bad things will happen if it sees weather

I can think of a few.

First is rain getting into the burner and pooling and/or causing corrosion damage. You could stop it with any kind of cover for the top that won't blow away. A sheet of marine plywood with rails around the edge could be finished to look OK and double as an actual tabletop.

Second is rain blowing in through the vents and around the edges of the door. You could stuff the vents with plugs of closed-cell foam carved to size and painted to fit with the color scheme of the faux stones, and only you would ever notice them. The door could be treated with self-adhesive foam weather strip.

I wouldn't expect the control plate to let in enough water to worry about.

Last is UV damage to the EnviroStone. I'd be inclined to ignore that and just let it weather, especially given how proud the manufacturer seems to be of their UV resistant surface coating. Even without any coating, I'd expect the stone powder component be opaque enough to limit penetration of UV much below the surface, so I'd expect to see the surface get duller and maybe a bit yellowed and start being a bit powdery over the course of two or three years, but I wouldn't ever expect to see structural damage to the resin.

My main worry with a thing like that would be the fact that it's made of any kind of polymer in the first place. Gas fire + polymers = potential for nasty business in my experience.
posted by flabdablet at 5:49 AM on September 30, 2017

The manufacturer might also be advising a cover to prevent spiders from nesting in the Venturi tubes. It's a common problem for any outdoor gas device.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:12 AM on September 30, 2017

Repurpose an outdoor air conditioner unit cover. (Just one example that breaks up the wall of beige. Amazon has inexpensive ones; a home decorating catalog will be more expensive but will offer more options and may let you choose the fabric.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:17 AM on September 30, 2017

You don't need a sewing machine to make a clear cover. Use a glue made for vinyl fabric, clamps and a good quality shower curtain liner for your materials. instead of sewing your seams just glue them. Inexpensive and you can see your pretty fire table!

I used this technique for a custom rain cover for a mini greenhouse and it has held up all summer.
posted by Requiax at 10:20 AM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

If I were feeling energetic, I'd make a plywood top, cut to fit, and make 4 oil cloth side panels to cover the sides, or even use the ugly beige. The side panels can be attached with tacks.Paint or poly the plywood. Many fabric stores carry oil cloth, or you can get some canvas, and paint it with deck paint. I have a big canvas floor cloth I used on my deck. It's been outdoors for 2 years and is fine. The cover will maybe last 1 year, and the fireplace is expected to last longer, so you're going to be making something one way or another.
posted by theora55 at 10:38 AM on September 30, 2017

You can call a shop that specializes in boat/outdoor furniture cushion covers and check out their Sunbrella fabric selection which comes in different patterns. With a photo and the dimensions, they could give you an accurate quote.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:52 AM on September 30, 2017

I have a similar fire pit and similar cover which is hideous. I've covered the lava rock part with a large metal platter/mini table thing, and a few plants on top of that, easy to move when I want to use the fire part. I haven't used the plastic cover at all. It's been about 2 years and it's just beginning to look a bit faded which isn't bad really, and it's just developing a crack. Conditions rough, Chicago weather (maybe I covered it the first winter?). I'm happy with my choice, that cover is just so unattractive. Maybe some kind of sealant would help?
posted by j810c at 7:36 AM on October 2, 2017

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