Nope, layers are not the way to go. Centauri mentioned it but I will go a little further but before I start let me just say (not aimed at you BTW)
Originally Posted by Another Designer
Notepad? Aw come on folks! There are great editors out there and a ton of them ... no one needs to go back to notepad. I used Edit Plus, there is Ultra Edit, DW (in code view only) etc etc.
Anyways back to your question:
Real quick example here, a menu header and some text
old way (your way right now)
MAN that was painful to write!
<td colspan='2'> header image </td>
<td>menu item 2</td>
etc etc etc
content goes here
footer info here
Now of course you need to style that but just looking at the code doesn't it make a HECK of a lot more sense than the old way? And granted this is a simplified version, some might (myself included sometimes) wrap the menu ul in a div, there can be all sorts of other elements in the ones above but I think you see the point.
<div id='header'>you header here</div>
<li>menu item two</li>
<li>etc ect ect</li>
Your content here
You footer info here
Trust me, once you get into tableless code and really learn it you will look back and say "Why the heck did I EVER use tables?" I know because I say it all the time (yes there was a time when I coded just like you do now)