Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dining Table

For our wedding, my in-laws were kind enough to give us their old dining table. We love this table because not only does it have two more leaves to expand with our family, but it is sturdy and well taken care of. However, the color was something to be desired.

This before and after shows you what a nice sand job and a beautiful finish can do for anything. My husband was skeptical at first thinking that buying a new table should be the route we took.

This is the wrong attitude! When thinking about a refinishing project, look past the initial appearance and see the bones, the structure of the piece. Sure a chair at a thrift store may look junky now, but envision it with a fresh coat of paint or a new seat cushion. Look at the bones of a sofa-does it have an interesting shape? What would it look like reupholstered? Once you get good at seeing the potential in all things, projects will start flowing in.

This dining table project took us about a week (we both work full-time) but if you had two dedicated days you could easily complete it.

Step one: Clean off your surfaces to prep for sanding.
Step two: Sand all surfaces with a rough (large grit) sandpaper until you can see the original wood. Then sand with a smooth (small grit) sandpaper to even everything out. We used an electric hand sander for most of the table, but small crevices you will need to tackle with just you and a piece of sandpaper. Helpful hint: sand in a well ventilated area and wear a mask- dust will be flying everywhere!
Step three: Once you are satisfied with your sanding job, clean all surfaces of dust. There are special rags at any hardware store that are slightly sticky to take off the dust.
Step four: Apply one even coat of stain to your table. If the wood is very thirsty, you will need to make sure that each spot is evenly coated. Let dry-refer to the back of your stain to see how long this should be-time varies with type of stain.
Step five: Apply more coats of stain until you reach your desired color. Let dry.
Step six: When the table is completely dry (don't cut corners!), apply a coat of polyurethane to the entire table. We chose a matte polyurethane because we didn't want the table to be too glossy. Let dry- again, refer to the back of the polyurethane for drying times.
Step seven: Lightly sand the surface with the finest sandpaper you can find. This part is the hardest because the table will look so beautiful! But do it anyway. Again, clean off the dust with a slightly sticky rag.
Step eight: Apply another coat of polyurethane. Let dry.
Step nine: Repeat steps seven and eight until you are satisfied with how the table looks.
Step ten: Wait for 48 hours to put anything on your table

Voila! You now have a beautiful new table that cost you maybe $60 to refinish!


  1. I think this blog is a fantastic idea! I need other things to occupy my time. I don't always get everything done I want to in one day, but it sure helps me stay sane.

  2. Your table is absolutely amazing. It helps me know that even if I have to buy DI stuff for the rest of my life, I can refinish it to look gorgeous!

  3. Perfect timing- Kenny and I just got a bunch of hand-me-down furniture that needs refinishing

  4. it looks like brand new! i love your "look at the bones of the piece" attitude!

  5. I am thinking about doing that exact thing with my hand-me-down table... I also have chairs that go with it that have wicker seats and backs. I need inspiration on how to make them look fabulous!

  6. That's awesome! Emily just told me about your blog. Now I'm probably going to become obsessed with all your fab projects!

  7. Thank you for posting this! I am SOOO afraid of staining. I LOVE painting... but you have officially made me want to try to stain my next project.


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