by Megan


How to Redo a Dining Room Table With Gel Stain

5 Materials
5 Hours

I want to share with you how to paint a dining room table and chairs! I have used paint and gel stain for my last two client orders. The orders have been dining room tables and chairs! 14 chairs between the two sets. Lots of painting but I have some tips and tricks to share with you that will make the process of painting your dining room table and chairs simple, affordable, time saving and give you a lasting finish!

Table before

Steps to Painting a Dining Room Table and Chairs

Begin with a clean surface. Look table and chairs over thoroughly for any food that may have been left behind and wipe clean. (It’s important to remove anything that may be stuck to the table because it will show up raised underneath your painted finish.) I typically use a shop towel and water to wipe the table and chairs clean. If table and chairs seems very greasy I will clean with  TSP and rinse with water.

Once surfaces are clean dip paint brush into the paint and begin to add a first coat of paint to the table and chairs. Paint with the grain going in up and down motions.

Adding first coat of paint

When the first coat of paint is dry you are ready to add a second coat of paint. Repeat in the same pattern as you did with the first coat of paint. This table took about three coats of  Dixie Belle Buttercream. You may also need up to three coats of paint depending on the color of your original surface. 

TIP: Seal the painted surface with a clear finishing wax OR a waterbased poly!

Once you have painted the table legs and chairs you are ready to apply the gel stain! General Finishes Java Gel stain is one of my most favorite products to use. It is EXTREMELY durable and beautiful!

Dip your foam brush into the Java Gel stain and going with the grain begin to apply the Java gel stain. It’s important to go with the grain. Add one coat and let it dry. When the first coat of gel stain is dry you are ready to apply a second coat of gel stain. Going with the grain again add a second coat of gel stain. You want to make sure that you can not see the original finish of the table. I like to let this final coat dry overnight.

Applying first coat of gel stain

After the final coat of Java Gel stain has dried overnight you are ready to seal the table top! I used General Finishes Gel Stain topcoat! I LOVE this topcoat! It goes on super shiny and even when dry it looks shiny and wet but will be completely dry and beautiful! 

Apply the Gel Stain topcoat with a foam brush. You want to make sure you apply the topcoat in an up and down motion. Let first coat of gel stain topcoat dry and repeat the same process adding a second coat. Two coats works very well and is extremely durable!

Applying GF gel stain topcoat

After this step your tabletop is complete! Let table dry overnight. I like to add two coats of the gel topcoat for extra durability. Great job!! You did it!!

I’m also recommending you check out this post by The Budget Decorator! She has a great post on MANY different tabletop makeovers! They will inspire you!

Do you have any questions about how to paint a table top and chairs? If so leave a comment below!

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 11 questions
  • Sue Dingmann
    on Nov 8, 2019

    Do you need to wipe the gel stain off with each coat like you do with regular stain?

    • Megan
      on Nov 9, 2019

      Hi Sue! You do not need to wipe the gel stain off after each coat like you would with a regular stain! Just keep applying. :) Let it dry very well in-between coats! :)

  • Chris Sax
    on Nov 9, 2019

    I have a beautiful bedroom set with a large headboard of 4”x4” diamond shaped, inlays and checkered pattern. (It’s a sleigh bed so the footboard as well as the dresser top have that same inlay.)

    Unfortunately an area, about 18” in diameter, was severely scratched. But not not deeply or gouged. It’s a treasured investment from back in my 20’s. I’d love to be able use it again.

    I learned a lot about woodworking from my grandfather growing up and I have the tools. But no idea how to approach this project. Any insight or advice would very much appreciated.

    On a side note; that side of the family hails from Altus AR. Winemakers (Post, Weidker and Mount Bethel.) He graduated Uof A 1930’s as a Chemical Engineer. Relocated to Cincinnati area to work for Seagram’s. I was just looking at college yearbooks he left me. Go Razorsbacks!


    Chris Sax

    • Megan
      on Nov 11, 2019

      Hi Chris!! It is so nice to meet to you! Woo pig! So fun to hear your family has Arkansas roots! AR is a wonderful place to raise a family.

      Your bedroom set sounds beautiful! Are you wanting to keep the diamond shape inlay checkered pattern? If So I would lightly fill in the gouge with a matching color wood putty. Lightly sand and to brighten up the wood and make it look new again use Hemp Oil. Hemp oil is wonderful for wood!

      Here is a link for hemp oil! You can read the reviews!

  • Sherri
    on Nov 24, 2019

    I have a dining set that is clear varnished (light colored wood) and am kind of looking to darken up just the top of the table and the seat of the chairs. Would I have to sand all of those areas down before using the gel stain?

    • Megan
      on Nov 25, 2019

      No! That is what is so wonderful about gel stain! No sanding. I would just wipe clean and begin to apply the gel stain! I just redid a table for a client and we did the chair seats as well! It turned out great! I'll attach a photo below. :)

      Here is a post I wrote on how to apply gel stain to chairs seats~

Join the conversation

4 of 16 comments
  • Elizabeth Burrows
    on Nov 4, 2019

    I have water destruction of plastic finish on an antique round table top - color not changed. Do I need to cover whole top? I the process shown here good for my purpose?

    • Megan
      on Nov 4, 2019

      Hi Elizabeth! Is the antique table top plastic or wood?

  • Jo Ann Stidman
    on Nov 5, 2019

    Great job Megan....from one Razorback to another.

    i am from Egypt, AR, about 4 miles South of Walnut Ridge.

    love seeing my home town on here..

    Now Oroville, WA and Leduc, Alberta, Canada

    • Megan
      on Nov 5, 2019

      Hi Jo Ann! Oh that is so fun!! Woo pig! Love AR. A great place to raise a family. :)

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