Big Kid's Sand and Water Table + Update

The weather in Houston has been amazing and it's been snowing flower petals in our backyard, it's been a dream!  So we've been spending a lot of time back there and I've started improving things, sprucing up. :)  First, we built a Sand and Water Table last year for our boy's 3rd birthday, it's been a hit:

But our striped umbrella was looking pretty dirty and we needed a taller one for our taller kiddos:

I liked the 5' umbrella frame from World Market in the gray finish so it had to be ordered online and it was only $25!  But the canopy (the fabric part) is sold separately at the store and online!

Now back to how we built the table, we wanted the older kids to be able to use it, so a store bought sand and water table was not going to work.  We started with an old 47" teak octagonal dining table top (it was our first patio table, the original legs had broken and we kept the top) and added legs.  The new legs are treated 4x4s from Home Depot.  We attached them with handy table leg hardware.  The finished table height is 19 inches (an average play table height).  Then on top of the table we put two Rubbermaid 41 qt. Premium Clever Store Clear Totes for the water and sand:

My biggest requirement when we were planning the S&W table was room for a little workspace.  I wanted the table big enough to hold tools and to build something like a castle or a cake, a place to work:

Inevitably the sand always becomes an ice cream shop with the IKEA sand toys:

Ice Cream for sale!
And when we're all done playing, I pour the water out and put the covers on:

If you'd like to build something like this for yourself, there is some upkeep that I don't mind.  I like to replace or wash the sand if the top gets left open, who wants pinworms?!

For peace of mind, I prefer Sandtastik sand from Lakeshore Learning, they were out-of-stock last time needed to replace so I used play sand from Toys R Us.  Try not to google "play sand", just save yourself the controversy and try to buy the expensive sand for this small box, it's washable, tell it to your neighbor!

I searched the internet high and low looking for the most affordable way to recreate this table for you and there are too many variables!  So I suggest either buying a giant outdoor coffee table or an outdoor dining table and chopping or replacing the legs to your desired height.  Just allow room for the combined size of the clear containers, 36" x 29" with a diagonal of around 46" (I cannot believe I just used the Pythagorean Theorem).  This table here is the right size but you'd have to replace the legs.

Another improvement I've made in our backyard is to our bench.  Our Dexter Collection from West Elm has been so good to us!  We've had it for 3 years and we leave it out uncovered year round (we have a lot of shade) and it still looks great!  So this year I added the cushion to it and made it colorful with lumbar pillows from World Market.  And it is all on sale, tell it to your neighbor!  Here are a few picture links:

Time to relax and enjoy the rest of spring!


  1. Sorry I crazy stalked you at church yesterday! I was so excited to read this post over the weekend because I had our useless old outdoor dining table outside taking up space. I called my painter and he came yesterday to cut it down. Thanks for the great idea!!