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Tikis outdoors in the south

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I suppose it's pretty common practice in sunny, rain free California to have your wooden tiki out poolside, but here in TN, where the tempranges from 0 to 100 and the rain comes for a week at a time or none for a week, can you put a tiki outside?

Now i suppose you ought to have it on a riser so that it never sits in a puddle. And my man Basement Kahuna has schooled me on the drying of wood. But I still wanna know if we can put wooden tikis around the pool this summer and leave them there and what should be done to keep them in good shape. And if they weigh in over 500 pounds and we don't want to move them, how well will they survive out there? Cracks a certain?


I'm very familiar with your environment. You make a good point. Any standing wood object that is constantly bombarded by water is subject to rot. One possible solution is to coat your tiki in several coats of marine varnish. I have done so and for the past couple years of storm activity, it seems to have done a good job protecting Mr. Tiki. You could also place the tiki on a dolley of sorts. There are plant platforms on casters meant for outdoors that are easy to roll around and keep the object from standing in one place in a pool of moisture.

On 2003-04-27 01:35, Squawker wrote:
I have done so and for the past couple years of storm activity, it seems to have done a good job protecting Mr. Tiki. You could also place the tiki on a dolley of sorts.

Good suggestions. However, winter in California is not nearly as harsh as it is in most other parts of the country. I have a friend in the Pacific Northwest who has some Native American totem poles. The problem he experiences is that in the summer, the poles dry and crack and in the winter the cracks fill with moisture which freeze into ice and expand the cracks. Here in California, a tiki outdoors may last many winters but might not be so durable elsewhere. It simply depends on your environment.

Putting a tiki on a plant dolly/rollable stand makes good sense however, you must also keep in mind that most rollable plant bases are not made to support the weight of a 100+ pound tiki. And in this case, you're looking at supporting 500 pounds! You're best bet (IMHO) is to use industrial casters on a custom made platform you know will support the weight.

Talk to your local hardware supply about your situation and I'm sure they'll be able to recommend a wood sealant that will do the job. I'm sure many homeowners use something similar to protect their decks, etc with it.

My 2 Cents.

I've spent plenty of time in the deep south (particularly Florida), where everything seems moist year round and I was born and grew up in the Pacific Northwest and am very aware of the overall soggy situation there.

The problem is wood is wood. When properly finished or protected with appropriate varnish, it has a long life - even exposed to fairly harsh environments. Standing water is a major source of wood damage. Even in drier climates, the constant exposure to irrigation systems, without proper drainage, will eventually cause rot.

One of my tikis is well over 25 years old and had been displayed outdoors all of the time before I acquired it and did restoration. It held up well even without varnish. Now it's almost indestructable and resides on my deck. Pardon me, but how many people own 500+ pound tikis? My Leroy Schmaltz is five foot tall, over 1 foot in diameter and weighs in somewhere between 150-200 pounds. I've sat it on a tree stand dolley and it moved around okay (I now keep it near my indoor fountain). My 4 foot tall, 10-inch diameter tiki weighs in at maybe 85-95 pounds. A full-size totem pole (like the wonderful Indian ones I remember from my youth in Oregon) could be that heavy and more, and I knowledge that is a particular problem. But then, they were never meant to be moved, once planted. A 500 pound tiki is enormous compared to the majority of available tikis on the market meant for home and yard display. Yes, I've seen some huge ones created for hotels and such. If you've actually gotten one of these, you'll need a crane and an 18-wheeler to move it! (and where would you put it?)

Yes, I agree, a custom-made moving dolley with heavy duty casters would be the smart way to go. I suggest, if what you have a tiki that is very big, you might consider building a platform on strong supports (non-movable like a miniature deck), open to air circulation underneath and consisting of slates above, so water will easily run off. Also, and I did this to mine, apply several layers of marine varnish to the bottom of your tiki, where it contacts the platform, sun deck or whatever. Additionally, it would be advisable to relocate your tiki every month during wet periods so the area underneath could have an opportunity to dry out.

Outside of keeping your tiki indoors, you have to understand the tiki, like yourself, is organic and nothing lasts forever.

[ Edited by: Squawker on 2003-04-28 10:34 ]

Oh, contraire. I have a seven footer that weighs OVER 500 pounds and two 7 1/2 footers that probably don't weigh 150. It's all according to diameter, age, density and what kind of wood. I have seen solid mahogany tikis that top 100 pounds per foot in shipping weight.



I stand corrected. Though the majority I've seen on the market (primarily palm trunk) are still well within the ability of one person to more or less manipulate - two to move (I lugged my 200 pounder up 3 flights of stairs by myself). If you have a number of such heavy tiki's you must experience a serious stress load problem on your floor if you display them indoors. Outdoors, I imagine they have to be be solidly placed on level ground or on a substantial platform riser. Yes, you're right about mahogany being a dense wood (something I forgot about, since most of the tikis I've seen are palm). Rather expensive to expose to the weather, isn't it?


You need to do this:

Make sure the whole thing is coated REAL good with WATER SEALER. be sure to use the clear (milky) kind- NOT anything that looks brown or chocolately, as it will have colorant in it which will alter your tiki's look. Ive seen some that were marked "clear or natural" that were still like this. Use the less expensive thompson's water seal..

Then place it on a stepping stone to keep it up off the ground- dont let it stand on anything wet/moist. If possible, set it on some risers so air can flow underneath it.

That's it. Keep sealing it yearly. The water will bead off of it like a waxed car.


Couldn't have stated it better myself...

Seal the tiki with LOTS of coats of varnish. I've been lucky, I guess, but it seems to work for me.

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