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 22 questions
  • Donna
    on Oct 13, 2020

    I noticed you did the Table in your house. Does the gel stain not smell too strong? I cannot move my table out of the kitchen. Thanks. Donna

    • Megan
      on Oct 16, 2020

      Hi Donna! The gel stain does not smell nearly as strong as a regular stain. Gel staining in your house is totally okay as long as everything is protected from the stain. I would recommend wearing gloves and if you have any health issues a mask never hurts. :)

  • Randall Haveman
    Randall Haveman
    on Dec 1, 2020

    If you do not send your table top and chair seats, can you go lighter rather than darker with the gel stain?

    • Megan
      on Dec 1, 2020

      Hi Randall!

      Yes you can go lighter with the gel stain if you do not stand. But it does require more coats so that you do not see the original table finish.

      General Finishes does make lighter colored gel stains as well! Hope that helps!

  • Linda Battles
    Linda Battles
    on Dec 7, 2020

    Did you do any sanding on the table top before you put the gel stain on?

Join the conversation

4 of 30 comments
  • Teresa
    on Sep 21, 2020

    Thank you Jeanne for the info. I will keep that in mind. Thank you for sharing.

  • Jody Price
    Jody Price
    on Sep 22, 2020

    And, can I apply the java gel indoors? Smell?

    • Megan
      on Oct 4, 2020

      Hi Jody! It does not smell NEARLY as strong as a regular stain. I have applied it indoors and outdoors. Really depends on the size of project you are working on and the time of year. :)

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