Dining Table Refinish

7 Materials
1 Week

Have you ever been offered a piece of furniture that was solid, sturdy, had character but just didn’t quite fit your color scheme? That was us with this dining table and chairs. Keep reading to see how we refinished the table to fit our decor style.

This is her before picture. This is how she looked when we picked her up. She wasn’t in bad shape or condition. The fabric on the chairs needed to be updated, but overall didn’t didn’t have structure damage or really anything wrong other than she wouldn’t fit our color scheme. We have darker wood tones, grays and whites.

List of materials:

• electric hand sander

• sand paper (we use 80 and 120 grit)

• small can of stain; we used minwax classic gray

• old rags or t-shirts (lint free)

• polyurethane (I like using a thick one)

• Quart size can of paint; we used chalk paint antique white in color.

• paint brush

• wax seal for chalk paint

Let’s get started!

The first thing we did was wash down the table. Then sand the existing stain off the top of the table and the leaves. This table came with 2 leaves. We always sand with the gain of the wood.

Next we wiped the table down again to get rid of all the dust. Then applied the first coat of stain, again going with the grain of the wood. *(the grain of the wood refers to the pattern in the wood)* We use old t-shirts to apply the stain. Some people like to brush it on, it’s personal preference.

Let the first coat dry completely. The amount of drying time depends on the type of wood, some take longer to dry than others. We usually let sit 6-10 hours before applying a second coat of stain.

** Painter/ Decorators tip** some pieces may only need one coat of stain. Or you may like it with only one coat. Others may need two or three coats, depending on the desired outcome.

The above photo is after two coats of stain.

The next step is to poly the top to give a barrier between the stain and moisture. Because we knew we would use this table quite a bit we applied 3 coats of thick poly. Letting each coat completely dry before adding another one. We had a quick drying poly and were able to apply two coats in one day.

**tip** if you lightly tap the poly and it’s sticky or tacky- it’s still wet and needs to dry before adding the next coat.

Once the stain and poly were finished it was time to work on the base and legs of the table. I like to work with my darker colors first and then move to the lighter colors just in case I drip or spill, it’s easier to fix.

On the base and legs of the table we painted painted it with chalk paint in an antique white color. I paint thin layers so it took 3 layers of paint to accomplish the look I wanted. I like working in thinner layers as to avoid drips, running paint or globs of paint. I let each layer dry completely (anywhere from 4 to 10 hours) before applying the next coat.

**painter/decorator tip** again, according to the desired look or outcome for your project will depend on how much and how many layers of paint you’ll need.

***we had enough paint left over in the quart size can to paint the chairs***

After I had the base and legs painted and dried, it was time for distressing them. I used sand paper and by hand rubbed the paint until the underneath color came through. I made sure to randomly select areas that would be exposed to dents, dings, scratches or wear and tear.

The final step was to seal the chalk paint with clear wax seal for chalk paint. I use a paint brush to brush on the wax. Some people like to use a lint free cloth. The wax seal goes a long way and comes in a much smaller can than the paint.

**rememer to wash your brushes out with warm soapy water and let dry completely before using again**

**with my chalk paint I like to use a stiffer brush, like a bristle brush. **

This is how she turned out and looks so good in our dining room. It makes the space light and bright instead of dark and dreary.

Stay tuned for a tutorial on how we refinished and reupholstered the chairs.

You can check out more views of our dining room and other furniture projects on our Instagram page.

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Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Tinna
    on Aug 21, 2019

    I was brought up believing that you could not stain over a already treated and stained table. Are you saying I can take my light colored dining room table and stain it a darker color? All I need to do is sand it down first? It is a beautiful table I would hate to ruin it, but it just does not go with my new house.

    • Bonnie
      on Aug 21, 2019

      As long as you get all of the finish sanded off and are down to bare wood you should be able to stain again. I use a wood conditioner before staining so it stains evenly.

    • Veronica
      on Aug 21, 2019

      Yes Tinna, you were taught wrong. Bonnie is absolutely right. I never pay attention to conventional rules when it comes to refinishing furniture. That’s how I discover really neat effects that I otherwise wouldn’t find! Good luck with your table.

    • Cindy Hagemann
      on Aug 21, 2019

      With the new gel stain - you don't even have to sand it all down first. Gel stain is thick and when wiped on will stain the top coat and make it darker (going lighter will not work).

    • V Smith
      on Aug 21, 2019

      Tinna, I'm in the camp with Joleen, Veronica and Bonnie. If you want a very predictable result you should clean it, sand it (a light hand if it is veneer), condition it, stain it, and seal it. Gel stains are great, especially for vertical surfaces, but can react in different ways with the original sealed finish. It is always better to do the prep work because it will pay off on the end.

    • John Biermacher
      on Aug 21, 2019

      using a refinisher before or after sanding will work some of the existing finish into the wood to serve as a sealer giving you a more even staining. If you want to keep a lighter color, use the refinisher before (maybe instead of) sanding. If you are going for darker then refinish after sanding.

      Prior to staining wet the entire surface with mineral spirts to see how uniformity the stain will work.

      Should mention that I only use oil based products.

    • Robin Shane
      on Aug 21, 2019

      Yes you can do that. I’ve done it many times. After sanding down the table apply some stain pretreat to be sure it will stain evenly. Though I like the uneven look.

    • GMS
      on Aug 21, 2019

      I have also restained after sanding down a piece of furniture

    • Victoria
      on Aug 21, 2019

      What an impressive transformation! Thanks for sharing, and Your tutorial was very thorough, meaning I could (maybe?) attempt this process myself.

    • Joleen | Beaus and Belles
      on Aug 22, 2019

      Yes, you can sand down pieces and restrain. Just like the above comments have mentioned. All good advice there. 😊 I like to sand the finish and stain off because then I can see what I’m working with. Veener

      tops you do need to be careful with, but generally can still be sanded.

    • Joleen | Beaus and Belles
      on Aug 22, 2019

      Thank you Victoria! I’m glad the tutorial was thorough! I hope you try it out! 😊

  • Cerita
    on Sep 8, 2019

    Where did you purchase the fabric for the chairs?

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