How to restain a Duncan Phyfe table?

Nichole Dunst
by Nichole Dunst

Got this Duncan Phyfe table for a really great price. It's got great bones but I want to get rid of the dated red undertones and stain in a darker brown. Looking for suggestions on how to refinish a dining table? Strip, sand, and re-stain?

  14 answers
  • Gk Gk on Jul 10, 2020

    This table would look beautiful if you want to take the time to strip, sand, stain darker and poly. I think I would keep the wood look for this table as it looks to be in beautiful shape. Another option which would eliminate all the work of stripping and sanding is to check into General FInishes stain. These stains comes in a solid coverage and a semi transparent coverage. There is little prep to using these stains. I have used them a few times with beautiful results. You can only go darker not lighter. And you would have to use a clear finish over the stain. Check them out!

    • Nichole Dunst Nichole Dunst on Jul 10, 2020

      Thank you so much, I'll check them out! I'm all for products that make my life easier :)

  • Em Em on Jul 10, 2020

    Yes. Sand and restain. Sanding the legs will be the most time consuming. The top can be done with a small belt sander but they can easily take gouges out of the wood it you aren't used to them. Other than that just go for it. I use a rag to apply stain. If you aren't used to that try it underneath first. A little bit of stain goes a long way on a rag. Dip a small corner and spread over a larger area. You can always add another coat of stain but if you put too much on initially you are stuck with sanding it over is you don't like it. You can control how much goes on with a rag. With a brush it soaks in too fast and too much.

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Jul 10, 2020

    You got it...strip, sand and re-stain is the process.

  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on Jul 10, 2020

    Because you're going darker you probably don't need to sand as deeply as you would expect. After you remove the top coat with a stripper, you could lightly spot sand in one place and see if a black (or very dark like dark walnut) stain won't cover that red right up and give you the look you desire without all the sanding.

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Jul 10, 2020

    Everyone is giving you good advice. Personally, I clean a piece first. It is unbelievable how much dirt, grime and wax build-up is hiding in plain sight. Most household cleaners work, but I use Krud Kutter when I have it. Then, after is dry, apply Citristrip. Do a section at a time to keep it moist and working. If a section does dry, reapply some more. I like to put it on with a brush. I work the finish off with steel wool and a putty knife. I like to work in the shade, outside, but, the odor is minimal, so you can work inside with it. It's messy work (at least for me), so protect all the surfaces around you. A tarp or plastic tablecloth under it is often enough. You'll need a container to scrape the old finish into. I used to use coffee cans, but any cleaned out can will work. Get all the finish off, clean any residue with soap and water, rinse. Let it dry completely. Then sand it. Once you've done all that, time to stain. It is messy and can permanently stain anything it gets on. Practice on scrap wood if you've never stained before. A clear water based sealer will protect the new finish. Good luck and stay safe!

  • William William on Jul 10, 2020

    You can stain over stain with gel stain and minimal prep. You can go darker. Any good brand will do. Minwax has instructions.

  • Morgan McBride Morgan McBride on Jul 10, 2020

    yep, sand, stain, seal!

  • Cindy Cindy on Jul 10, 2020

    Hi Nichole. Yes, you are right. If you want to change the stain on this beauty, you will need to either sand or strip it first. I would use Citristrip. It's a good product and saves a lot of elbow grease. If you sand it, be sure to get all the sanding dust off and then comes the stain. I hope this helps you Nichole. Good luck with your table.

  • K. Rupp K. Rupp on Jul 11, 2020

    WOW this is gorgeous! I am so happy you want to stain it. Painted pieces are beautiful as well but when you have something like that which looks like it is in great shape, wood is nice, no peeling veneer.....I love a pretty stain.

    I wouldn't bother stripping it. Whenever I have used a stripper to remove stain, it never totally does. Just get right to sanding. Just know there will be a ton of dust!! Use a vacuum when sanding. Sand it all down, start with 180 grit and work your way up to 220 grit. Vac...tac cloth.

    To stain:

    Precondition the wood with a wood preconditioner so the wood accepts the stain evenly. Then use whatever stain. To get a pro finish (like in a furniture store), steel wool in between coats. You will want to finish it off with a nice sealer. I like WATERLOX. It's amazing! I hear great things about general Finishes sealers as well.

    Check out my post where I was re-doing a bench and stained it. Follow the instructions here and you will get a very smooth stained finish. I was so surprised because using this method I got a pro furniture store quality and I haven't gotten that quality before using other sealers. This doesn't leave any grittiness. But the key is a few coats of the Waterloo because it is very thin!

    Good luck!! Love the project, it will be beautiful however you refinish it!

  • Unexpected Elegance Unexpected Elegance on Jul 11, 2020

    I would suggest you sand and use a gel stain.

  • Deb K Deb K on Jul 11, 2020

    Hi Nicole, here's one way you can do this, hope it helps you out

    You may also want to think about chalk paint

  • Michael Steinhour Michael Steinhour on Jul 11, 2020

    sand the desired area for the new stain and then stain it. Not easy fir a table like that you have to get all visible areas sanded well. Down to the bare wood. Then apply the stain let it dry and clear coat it. GL

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jul 11, 2020

    Hello Nichole,

    What I would suggest : As the table looks to be in great condition, I would use a heat resistant pad or pads on top or Blanket and polythene, and then use a beautiful Linen Tablecloth on it, or if you don't want to do Linen use Oilcloth tablecloth with padded backing. It would be a great shame to tamper with this lovely table.

  • Janice Janice on Jul 13, 2020

    Sand the wood well and I suggest using a gel stain in the color of your choice. That is a beautiful table.