Here’s guaranteed family fun on the back deck. It’s a cleverly designed outdoor checkers game table. And it has a secret that makes it both beautiful and functional.
Ashley Phipps from Simply Designing came up with this terrific do-it-yourself idea for our Outdoor Games Style Challenge. Some of our favorite design bloggers are inventing clever ways to DIY outdoor games for summer fun.
Here’s the tutorial for Ashley’s awesome Outdoor Checkers Game Table.
We had built a deck and pergola a few years ago, and then last year we stained our deck! It was perfect for grilling and for just sitting on, but we didn’t have a table on it, so we could never enjoy dining outside. We have been wanting an outdoor table for a long time and with a little brainstorming, I came up with the perfect solution!
This beauty functions as a pretty outdoor mosaic patio table…
But with just a little flip…
Our pretty, tiled table top turns over to reveal not one, but two checkerboards!
I love how stylish and functional it is. And I love that my whole family can play checkers at the same time!!
How to Build the Outdoor Checkers Game Table
- 2 — 2″ x 6″ x 10′ Untreated Cedar Wood Boards
- 4 — 2″ x 2″ x 8′ Untreated Cedar Wood Boards
- 2 — 4″ x 4″ x 8′ Untreated Cedar Wood Boards
- 2 — 2″ x 4″ x 8′ Untreated Cedar Wood Boards
- 1″ x 1″ x 16′ of Trim Board
- 1 — ½” x 2′ x 4′ Sheet of Plywood
- 8 sq. ft. of Tile (I used 12″ x 12″ Desert Sunset Mosaic Tile Sheets)
- 48 — 2″ Flat washers
- 50 — 2 ½” Coarse Kreg Jig Screws
- 1 box 3 ½” Deck Screws
- 1 box 2″ long Brad Nails
- Wood Glue
- Grout Admixture
- Behr Premium Deck Stain in Semi-Transparent Chocolate
- 2 — 2″ Painters Tape Rolls
- 2 — cans Rust-Oleum Heirloom White Spray Paint
- 2 — cans Rust-Oleum Aged Copper Metallic Spray Paint
- 1 — can Outdoor Spray Sealer
- 1 — Brush suitable for staining
- Kreg Jig
- Electric Drill
- Compound Miter Saw
- Brad Nailer
- Electric Sander with 120 grit sand paper
- Mortar Mixing Paddle
- Notched Trowel
- Grout Float Tool
- Large Sponge
- Sealer Sponge
- 3 — Buckets
- And all applicable safety wear (eye and ear protection, etc.)
- Drop cloth
Create the Table Top and the Frame
The first part of this project was to create the table top and the frame.
I cut one of my 2″ x 6″ boards into two 53 ½” lengths. Then I cut the other 2″ x 6″ board into two 35″ lengths and one 24″ length. I used my Kreg Jig and 2 ½” long coarse Kreg Jig Screws to assemble these boards together.
This created my top table top, minus the inserts, which I will talk about later.
(Learn more about using a Kreg Jig on my blog.)
Next I built the frame by cutting my 2″ x 2″ boards into four 58 ½” lengths and two 32″ lengths. I used my Kreg Jig and 2 ½” Kreg Jig Screws to assemble the frame together. And then I screwed the frame directly into the bottom of the table top using 2 ½” long screws. I set my other 2″ x 2″ x 58 ½” lengths aside, these will be used later.
Create the Game Table Base
To create the table base I cut one of my 4″ x 4″ boards to one 29″ length; this created the center post for my table base.
Next, from one of my 2″ x 4″ boards, I cut four 14 ½” lengths. Then I used my Kreg Jig and 2 ½” long coarse Kreg Jig Screws to join the 2″ x 4″ x 14 ½” long pieces to the 4″ x 4″ x 29″ center post together as shown in the photo below.
Out of the remaining 2″ x 4″ boards, I cut four more 14 ½” lengths with one end mitered at 30 degrees.
I used wood glue and a brad nailer with 2″ long nails to attach these boards to the existing 2″ x 4″ lengths on the base as shown in the photo.
Out of the remaining 4″ x 4″ boards, I cut eight 45-degree angle lengths that were approximately 15 ¾” on the long side and approximately 9″ on the short side. I connected four of these boards directly to the center post and then into the bottom legs using 3 ½” deck screws. I set the other four boards aside.
Connect Base to Table Top
With the table top and frame upside down, I placed the base (also upside down) in the center of the table and connected two of the 4″ x 4″ angled lengths from above directly into the center post and then into the table top center board using 3 ½” deck screws.
Then I grabbed my two 2″ x 2″ x 58 ½” lengths I had set aside and placed one on either side of the 4″ x 4″ center post. I used my Kreg Jig to secure each 2″ x 2″ x 58 ½” length into the existing 2″ x 2″ x 32″ frame boards on both ends of the table.
I also used 2 ½” Kreg Jig screws to secure the 2″ x 2″ x 58 ½” boards directly into the 4″ x 4″ center post and into the 2″ x 6″ x 24″ center table top board.
Finally I took my remaining two 4″ x 4″ angled lengths and connected them to the center post with 3 ½” deck screws and into the 2″ x 2″ 58 ½” frame boards on either side of the center post.
Sand and Stain
At this point, the table was basically built! With the table right-side-up, I sanded it well and stained it using Behr Deck Stain and a brush.
Create the Tiled Inserts
To create the tile and checkerboard game inserts, I began by cutting my 2′ x 4′ sheet of plywood in half so that I had two 2′ x 2′ boards.
(I always recommend measuring and cutting these boards to the exact opening you have available.)
Then I sanded these boards well and wiped them clean.
Next I prepared my thinset by using the mortar mixing paddle to mix the thinset with water until I had a toothpaste-like consistency. Then I used my notched trowel to apply the thinset to the tops of both pieces of plywood and then I carefully laid my 12″ x 12″ tile sheets onto the boards and pressed them gently into the thinset. Then I let this dry completely.
Once the thinset was dry, I mixed my grout with grout admixture until I had a toothpaste-like consistency. I applied this with my grout float and then cleaned with a wet sponge. I let this dry completely.
Once it was dry, I used a damp rag to clean the grout haze off.
Finally I applied sealer with my sealer sponge and let it dry completely.
Paint the Checkerboard Pattern
After the tile was completely set, I taped all of the tile off, and spray painted the entire other side with Rust-Oleum Heirloom White.
I let it dry completely, and then I taped off my checkerboard pattern.
Checkerboards have 8 squares by 8 squares. Because my board was 24″ x 24″, I measured and marked off three-inch rows and columns.
I was able to tape off every other row and column, then I spray painted it with Rust-Oleum Aged Copper Metallic spray paint and let it dry completely.
I removed the tape and taped off the remaining rows and columns to complete my checkerboard pattern (see photos for further explanation).
I then painted the board again with Aged Copper Metallic spray paint, let it dry and removed the tape. It sounds confusing, but check out my photos and it will make more sense, I promise!
After the paint was completely dry, I finished the checker board side off with a couple of coats of spray sealer. Be sure to get the edges and sides well too.
Create the Table Ledge
Finally, we cut our 1″ x 1″ trim to fit around the inside lip of the 2′ x 2′ openings. I stained these pieces and then attached them using wood glue and a brad nailer. I placed these at the height that would allow the finished, tiled insert to sit flush with the top of the table.
Create the Checkerboard Game Pieces
And finally, I created my checkerboard game pieces by spray painting (24) 2″ washers Heirloom White and (24) 2″ washers Aged Copper Metallic.
When we aren’t using these, I store them on a large bolt with a washer on the end.
This project definitely sounds more complicated than it was!
It actually went together fairly quickly in just a few evenings worth of work. But it is by far one of my favorite projects that I have ever done! And I am absolutely in love with the fact that we finally have a patio table…that doubles as a fun family game table!
My kids LOVE to play checkers, and they beg nearly every day to go outside and play with us! It is such a great way to spend time together as a family and is truly a great addition to our backyard!
Decorate and Enjoy!
Ashley Phipps is an interior designer by trade, but says she’s a creator by nature. She shares her terrific DIY ideas and advice on her blog Simply Designing. Ashley lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two children.
For more outdoor game ideas, see other Outdoor Games Style Challenge articles here on The Home Depot Blog, and follow our Style Challenge pinboard on Pinterest. Browse our Outdoor Recreation Department for everything you need for fun in the outdoors.
Ashley received a Home Depot gift card to complete her outdoor game DIY project. The ideas and opinions she expressed are her own.