Update TV trays


We have some older TV trays (not the best picture but you get the idea). I don't want to have to strip them down, and would like to keep the wood look vs paint. I've never used anything like antique wax, so didn't know what I'd have to do to the surface of the tray before using the wax (or if that's even the best option). Do I need to sand first? Lightly or all the way through the finish that's already there? I'd like to just darken it up a bit (paint the legs as well?). I'm basically open to ideas where there is very little prep work ahead of time (have other projects that will need lots of attention, so want this one to be easy!). We do use them so want to be sure the finish can withstand dishware, etc. Thanks for any suggestions!

q update tv trays
  14 answers
  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Sep 24, 2021

    Hello. This furniture rehab link might be informative.

    Hope this helps.

    How to Refinish a Flea Market Find without Removing the Old Finish • Ron Hazelton


  • Janice Janice on Sep 24, 2021

    Hi, to get the stain to cover well and still see the wood grain, you'll likely need to do a bit of sanding. Minwax is a good stain and I believe they now have a wide variety of colors (not even wood colors). Here's a link to the Minwax site. Always consider the color of your piece. Good luck. You might consider painting the legs in a fun color you love.


  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on Sep 24, 2021

    I would hand sand the top starting with medium grit down to very fine. That should take off plenty to totally erase the marks and give you a great surface to restain or you could just do a later of polyeruathane or polycrylic.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Sep 24, 2021

    you could paint or stain them, you could use peel and stick paper or tiles on them


  • Dee Dee on Sep 24, 2021

    For this project I would use General Finishes wood stain. In my opinion it is much better than Minwax. They also have a very durable top coat. https://generalfinishes.com/ They will answer all your questions and recommend the best products.

  • Lynn Lynn on Sep 24, 2021

    Thanks everyone! I've been looking at all the suggestions you offer and they're all very insightful. Now I just have to make myself tackle the project!

    • Flipturn Flipturn on Sep 24, 2021

      If you are happy with the results of the project, when finished,post a picture here to share with other Hometalkers.icon

  • Mogie Mogie on Sep 24, 2021

    How to Refinish a Wood Table in Just a Few Easy Steps


  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Sep 24, 2021

    Here's a great tutorial:


  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Sep 24, 2021

    Looks like you need a bit of sanding to remove the scratches, go with the grain of the wood and not across it with fine grit sandpaper. You can select the color of stain you prefer, they have a display at diy stores with approximate results.

  • Prep work is always key to refinishing wood. If you want to keep the wood, the best thing to do is sand and then refinish with stain/poly.

  • Lindsay Aratari Lindsay Aratari on Sep 26, 2021

    You should sand first and then stain it

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Sep 29, 2021

    coat of chalk paint ..with nice rice paper or stencils ... You could crackle and decoupage .. omg what an awesome project to have

  • Since they're already sealed, wax isn't going to change much for you. But yes, sanding them lightly will clean them up and you can re-seal which is the fastest and easiest route. What is your end goal with the wax? It's generally not the best sealer for something that sees wear, tear, and warm plates like a tv tray. You might give everything a light sand and try a gel stain then seal.

    • See 1 previous
    • Wax is mostly used to seal less durable paints like chalk. Wax isn’t your best choice here — don’t get caught up in the hype! ;) It could have been any number of things that didn’t pan out for you and gel stain: the original sealer, the wood itself, any hidden stains, combining water and oil based products, not sanding/not sanding enough, or technique, it’s hard to say. Grab a small container and practice before doing the big pieces. Since the sealer isn’t terribly thick on those trays, you can sand it all off and start over with any stain of choice then seal. You’ll get there!

  • Lynn Lynn on Oct 01, 2021

    Thanks for the tip! If I had my way, I'd just paint them, but my husband likes the wood. I like to keep wood if it's a nice piece, etc., but these arent' anything special and painting is so much easier!