How to Refinish a Dining Room Table


Lesson Learned: I’ve cheated on Kona, and I think I like it.. 

So here we are again.. another one of my favorite DIY projects to take on.. Redoing a kitchen table. It is so fun trust me! Thrilling even! Transforming something old and outdated, into a gorgeous new table you barely recognize- makes you feel extremely accomplished.

This table redo was a request from a family member who was in desperate need for a larger dining table. The solution: My dad and step mom have been in the process of completely redoing their kitchen (which I must say looks AMAZING- maybe I will post final pics for inspiration) and they just so happened to be getting rid of this large dining table! Of course, this style and color was verry outdated… definitely a 90’s theme.. so I was tasked with refinishing it to match their decor!


I have to admit, this project was fun for another reason.. This used to be my kitchen table as a kid. For as long as I can remember, my family and I would sit at it for nearly every meal growing up! So, while I was disassembling and inspecting the old table, I actually found some of my old handwriting etched and pressed into the soft wood! How cool is that?? It was like reading the Da Vinci code. Ha! if only..

Now I want to give you guys the basic steps I take to refinish a table like this. It really is simple to do, and these steps can be used to refinish nearly any type of wood furniture!

Step 1: Remove the old finish

You will need to plan out which part of the table you will want to stain versus paint. For this table, our friends asked for a stained dark top and white painted legs, similar to how I refinished my own personal kitchen table. I recommend for painted portions, lightly sand to rough up the surface and remove some of the old glossy finish. See below!


You can see the difference in shades when you sand. Obviously the lighter leg is the sanded one! You’ll also notice the sheen is gone from the old finish.  These can be set aside and saved for later!


For portions that you plan on staining, I suggest stripping the old finish completely. You can use any brand of stripper, but I prefer to use Goof Off Stripper. This will allow you to get as close to the natural wood as possible, in order to begin sanding.

Apply a thick layer of stripper with an old paint brush and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. It will begin to foam like you see in the picture above. Once the time is up, use a paint scraper and remove the goop that is left! Please please please always scrap in the direction of the grain. This will prevent any of the wood chipping off.

Step 2: Sand Sand Sand

After you have stripped the finish, wipe down the entire area you plan on staining. I suggest using an old rag and warm water.. or TSP. This will ensure you have a clean surface to begin sanding.

Next, SANDDDDD awayy! I hope you saved your energy for this workout! Using your orbital or belt sander, attach a very low grit paper (60-80) and sand away. It is tough to say how long you need to sand for, but I would say go until your wood looks as raw as it can get (raw, as if it were new wood you bought from the store).

After you achieve this level of rawness (is that a word??), sand with a higher grit (120) to smooth out the surface ready for staining.


Step 3: Apply Conditioner and Stain

Now you’re ready for the fun part, adding some color to the table! Wipe down the entire surface you plan on staining with Wood Pre Stain Conditioner. Apply with an old rag, and let it dry. Wipe away an excess after a few minutes.

Then, using a foam brush apply a thick layer of stain. For this table redo, my Aunt picked out Black Cherry from Rustoleum as her color of choice for the top. I have to admit I was unsure to begin but it’s reallllly grown on me. For those of you who have been following my previous posts, you know how much I love the color Kona. This was a biiig step for me to use a different color but I really like the color now and would recommend it. Once you let the stain sit for a couple of minutes, wipe it away with rags. Make sure to wipe away any excess. Continue to apply stain and wipe away until you cover your entire surface, and achieve the desired color. I suggest leaving the stain to cure for a couple of hours.


Step 4: Paint and Protect 

For those of you who decided to paint a portion of your table/furniture, use a paint brush to apply as many coats as it takes to cover the wood sufficiently. I think it took me 3 coats! Let these painted surfaces dry for a few hours before applying a protective finish. I suggest using Polycrylic to protect painted surfaces. Apply this with a rag or foam brush.

Step 5: The grand finale.. Poly!

Are you guys still with me?! We’re almost done! All you need to do now is protect your freshly stained surfaces. I suggest using Polyurethane on stained surfaces to cover these areas, since they tend to be highly used surfaces. Apply the poly with a foam brush, making sure you lay it on thick with as few air bubbles as possible. Let this dry overnight.

If you feel your table needs another coat, lightly sand any imperfections/rough spots with a fine sheet of sandpaper (240 grit). Then, apply another coat of poly… again making sure to paint on a smooth layer.

AND there you have it folks… a refinished table!!! Here is the top of my newfound (second) favorite stain color!


Excuse the messy background, I completed this project in my Dad’s basement!


The table made it home nicely… Oh! and fun fact.. those chairs were originally BLACK. can you believe what a few coats of paint can do!?



How to Refinish a Kitchen Table.jpg

I hope you enjoyed this post, and realized how 4-5 easy steps can COMPLETELY transform a piece of furniture! Remember, reuse and repurpose.. there is no need to spend tons of money on new furniture :).

Much love as always xoxo

ari signature


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s