Furniture refinishing is a great option when you can’t find the exact piece you’re looking for or when you score an awesome thrift store find. Read this how to guide for refinishing a table.
Recently, while doing one of my daily Pinterest hunts, I came across several images of gorgeous pedestal tables. Since then, I have been on the search for a nice round oak table for my dining room, that was at least 48′ in diameter. Since my dining room is small, I needed something that would look nice in the space, but not take up too much room. I checked a bunch of stores and online, but was not feeling any pricing that these tables were going for. I was on the hunt for something like this:
So, I figured instead purchasing a brand new one for $700+, I would check local thrift stores and Craigslist for the perfect one. Well, a few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one from good old Craigslist for $60! Have a look…
It had the perfect curves, perfect height, but was a horrible orangey oak color that I hated. But, I figured since it was a solid oak table, and I mean SOLID, that I would take a stab at furniture refinishing and stain it into a pretty rich espresso color. Here she is now!
I am so happy with how this project turned out, especially since this was my first time using stain and refinishing a table. If I did this, then you can too!
How To: Refinishing A Table
*This post contains affiliate links*
Using these products, I was able to get a flawless finish that I love so much! To stain my oak table, I used:
- Citristrip which is a paint and varnish stripper. Most wood furnishings have a finish over the top to protect the item scratches. This finish must be removed by a quality varnish and stain remover, and in my opinion this is best.
- A good quality paint brush that works well with paint and stain application
- Latex protective gloves,
- Varathane Stain + Poly (in-one) in Kona Semi-Gloss (oil based)
- Paint and varnish stripping tools
- 320-grit Extra Fine Sandpaper
- 180- grit Sandpaper
- Odorless Mineral Spirits
- Paper towels
- Cheap Paint Brush to apply the Citristrip (cheapest 2 inch brush is fine)
- Drop Cloth
- Dust Mask.
Steps To Refinishing A Table:
Putting on my dust mask (safety first), I applied the Citristrip on top of the table, and around the table base to remove the varnish. For those of you not familiar with varnish, it is a hard, glossy, protective finish used on wood. This protective coat needs to removed by the stripper in order to prepare the surface for the stain. This stripper should be applied by pouring a manageable amount of stripper into a small bowl, and using the cheap 2 inch paint brush to apply in long strokes, making sure to cover all spots.
Once the stripper was applied, I let mine set in overnight, however the instructions on the back of the container only call for an hour of set time.
When checking the table the next morning, the stripper dried the varnish and it was ready to be stripped.
Taking my stripping tool, I began scraping across the top of the table, and the base. I scraped…and scraped…oh…and scraped.
After I finished scraping, I swept off the varnish remnants with a broom. To be sure that all of the varnish is removed, I recommend shining light on the table along with running your hands across to check for any “slick” or shiny parts. Once I ensured its smoothness, it was time to remove the remaining stripper residue. I did this using Odorless Mineral Spirits and pouring it onto a scrubber. I used the back of this scrubbing sponge.
Since Mineral Spirits is a non-toxic paint stripper, and cleaner, it helped to prepare my surface for staining by removing all of the remaining stripper residue. I also used a few damp paper towels to ensure all of the residue was off, and I kept wiping until the paper towel was clean.
Next, it was time to sand. Using my palm sander, we sanded over the table and base, following along in the direction of the wood grain, making sure to sand all of the edges and grooves of the table.
*Sorry, I don’t have any pictures of us sanding the base, but we followed the same steps*
After we sanded, we wiped the oak table and base with several damp paper towels to remove sanding residue. To prepare to stain, we swept the floor to remove the sanding dust and any other particles from the floor.
Staining The Oak Table
After wiping down the table one final time, I began to stain. I applied the stain using a good quality 2 inch paint brush that was compatible with the use of oil paints or stains. The stain was applied using even strokes from top to bottom, still in the direction of the wood stain.
Once I covered the table completely with stain on the top and base, I let it dry for an hour, per the instructions on the stain can. Then I sanded the table lightly using 320-grit sandpaper, to prepare it for the second coat of stain to stick. Again, this should be done very lightly. Just enough to rough up the surface so that the stain has something to adhere to.
I then applied the second coat of stain. This photo gives a good side by side of the first and second coat, and the dimension that the second coat adds.
Left is with the second coat, right is the first coat
And here it is finished with the second coat. Since the stain already had polyurethane in it, there was not a need to add. So I was left with a beautiful, shiny “new” dining room oak table!
For some reason the base looks darker in the photo, but it has the same amount of coats as the top.
Here are a few more finished pics…
I am very happy with the finished product. All in all, staining and refinishing a table is actually pretty easy, it just requires quite a bit of prep work. Now I need some chairs, a rug (this one was a test from another room), a small buffet, and other accessories. Since we are fixing up this room and the kitchen at the same time, I vote to make my backsplash my next project, but knowing me, I might end up doing something else (scatter-brained). I hope to have some updates soon!
Have you ever stained or refinished any furniture? I plan to do more in the future. I would love to hear your experience. Thanks for stopping by!