If your patio table outlived the glass top that once completed it, there's no need to fret. That table base, still durable, functional and fitting for your patio, can be fitted with a new top, whether glass or not. You don't need to relegate the base to a surplus yard or place it out on the curb.
A piece with a small base, such as a patio side table, benefits from a top that doubles as a tray -- use the tray to cart out a pitcher of lemonade and some tumblers, or hot cup of tea and your favorite novel. A wood, metal or high-quality plastic serving tray with handles can serve as both tray and tabletop. Add stick-on hook-and-loop tape strips to the bottom of the tray where the tray and table base meet. Then use hook-and-loop strips -- the type without tape -- over the table framework to attach the frame to the table. This method works for many patio tables, such as those with metal frames. If you have a metal or wood tray, several coats of polyurethane or clear sealer protect it from the elements.
If you've ever wanted a mosaic-topped table to give your patio a tropical or garden-inspired theme, now's your chance. Cut a tabletop shape from plywood, or repurpose an appropriately sized cupboard or cabinet door. Choose small glass or ceramic tiles in your favorite outdoor color scheme, then plot a layout on a piece of paper next to the board to plan your design. Tile nippers allow you to cut triangles and small filler pieces for your design. Opt for a central, themed tile picture such as a smiling sun or a dragonfly, if you'd like. Construction adhesive buttered over the tabletop holds tiles in place. Once it dries, grout between the pieces, and then wipe off the excess with a damp sponge. Glass tiles, wooden word-game tiles or even bits of polished sea glass can be used in place of ceramic tile.
Signs of the Times
Vintage advertising and other signs, such as old stop signs or speed limit signs, serve as playful patio table toppers. Scour flea markets and yard sales for funky finds, and convert them to tabletop use by securing them to the table base with corner brackets or curved fence brackets, depending on the construction of the table base. Gently hammer or file down sharp corners on tin and metal signs to prevent injury.
A vintage leather suitcase, briefcase or a wooden case serves as inspired decor in its new life as a tabletop. The inside of the case tabletop holds magazines, barbecue tools or citronella jar candles, ready for use on a bug-riddled evening. Attach the case to the table base with hook-and-loop tape and straps -- that way you can bring the tabletop inside during inclement weather. Seal the wood or leather with your favorite protectants for added longevity. Portable aluminum briefcases or road cases used for musical gear give the table a themed appearance.