Refinishing A Dining Room Table with Paint and Wood Stain

By on April 30, 2014
Refinishing Dining Room Table

A co-worker at my job had this old beat up table that she wanted to get rid of quickly to get it out of her house. It was her own “work table” as she described it. Since I’ve been on the prowl for a dining room table to refinish for my own dining room, I was happy to pay the little bit she wanted for it and she even delivered it to my house.

I had a really hard time deciding what to do with this piece. I am typically a paint addict and like to throw color on everything I can and as you can see, it was pretty junky looking. The top was badly scratched up and there were random thick splatters of paint all over it. As beat up as it was, it was sturdy as all get out and the solid wood top was heavy and I could see through the nasty and envision the beautiful wood it could be.

Dining Table Before

Yes, I know, coming from someone who would rather paint furniture almost 100% of the time it’s hard to believe but yes I can appreciate a beautiful wood piece and do like touches of wood in my house. That’s why I decided with this piece, I was going to paint the bottom area including the legs and the side of the table, but the top I decided to refinish and stain a dark shade.

I knew right away I would be using my homemade chalk paint recipe to paint the legs and sides so I didn’t bother doing any sanding to my painted areas other than wiping down the legs with a Lysol wipe just to make sure they didn’t have any gunk on them.

Before I did any painting though, I wanted to take care of any stripping or sanding that would need to be done to the wood top, to keep my mess to a minimum and possible risks of dust settling into the paint.
Paint StripperI picked up this paint and varnish remover from Amazon and sprayed it all over the entire top of the table including the rounded edges. After about 30 minutes of letting it work, I checked on the table and there was a nice thick layer of gel that had formed over it so it was time to grab my plastic scraper and begin the messy part.

Definitely make sure you grab some gloves on this part because it is messy! Having said that, this stuff worked great! It scraped off effortlessly into a yucky brown gel. Towards the end when most of it was removed, I grabbed my bristle pad and scrubbed off any remaining gunk.

Stripping Paint

Now that I had a nice clean wood table top, I could really see some of the major scratches that were in the table top. I grabbed some wood putty and filled in all of the major areas.

Unfinished Tabletop

As a final step before staining, I grabbed my matrix drill with the sander attachment and went to work. I started off using a 100 grit sandpaper to get off all the thick wood putty and any rough areas but then finished it off with a finger 220 grit sandpaper to give it a final smooth finish.

Matrix Sander Attachment

Once the sanding was finished I wiped everything down once more to make sure no dust particles would be in the paint or stain.

Chalk Paint Mix

I decided I would tackle the painting aspect of this project first, so I mixed together my trusty home made chalk paint recipe using Olympic flat paint called Light Sage. If you haven’t made your own chalk paint, I’ve got a great recipe that I use for many of my projects.

I was a bit concerned with the black base color and the chunky white paint splatters on the legs. I was concerned it may show through on the green. To keep that black hidden I decided to use some left over Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Paint I had from my nightstand project and give myself a base coat of white to start with. I’m really glad I did this because there are imperfections in the wood on the legs that let the base color show through and I would not have been happy if that was black. Old white I can handle!

White Legs

After doing the base coat of old white, I then applied the light sage to the legs and to the side wood skirting on the table top. Since I had the white already down, I only needed one coat of the sage for full coverage.

Sage Green Chalk Paint

Finally I gave all my painted pieces a coat of Annie Sloan clear coat wax. To apply it I used my handy dandy Wooster brush and just a soft white cloth to do my buffing.

Next it was time to make that wood top beautiful again. I wanted a deep dark finish so I chose the Minwax Dark Walnut stain for this project. Using a brush I applied a thin coat of the stain in the direction of the grain. After a few minutes I went back over the stain with a clean white cloth to rub away any excess.

Staining Tabletop

STOP! Okay, I need to address something here. When you are staining wood furniture and the directions tell you to wipe away the excess stain within a few minutes…please do it. This isn’t just an extra step they want to make you do for no reason. If you have excess stain sitting on top of your wood furniture that doesn’t soak into the wood, your surface will be sticky. No not just for a few hours…I’m talking days.

How do I know this? After applying the first layer of stain I decided to apply a second coat of stain to try and make it even darker. This worked perfectly and I loved the darker color, however, my baby monster grabbed my attention for a bit longer than I had anticipated and I came back to a sticky table top. I didn’t come back within a few minutes to wipe down the second layer and voila…I have stain that didn’t soak.

Stained Tabletop

How did I fix this issue? I researched online and read that I could just wipe it down with a clean cloth and some mineral spirits but I was worried I would have to start all over and resand and stain. Not what I wanted to do. After a bit more research I learned I could just wait it out and it would eventually dry. I opted to go this route and it did dry eventually…after 3 full days. Definitely a lesson learned. Still…it turned out beautiful so I’m okay with the wait. Totally worth it.

After the stain was fully dried it was time to protect my beautiful table top. Since I knew I would be wiping down my dining table quite a bit I knew I decided to go with a water-based finish. I also have a baby who would very likely be stabbing my shiny new table with a fork on many occasions so I wanted something that would go on thicker and more durable than a spray lacquer.

I opted for the Minwax Polycrylic in Satin (Amazon had it for almost a dollar less than my local Lowes did and since I get free shipping as a prime member, I grabbed it from Amazon) and applied it with a basic bristle brush running it along in the direction of the grain. When you first apply it, it does go on in a milky sort of color so don’t be surprised or worry that it won’t dry clear. It absolutely does.

Corner of Table

I ended up doing three coats of the polycrylic, giving it a light sanding with some 220 grit paper between each coat. After the third coat I was thrilled at how thick and smooth the finish was and it had the perfect amount of sheen to it.

*Watch for drips in the edge of your table, this stuff is thin and runs very easily. If you see any just taper your strokes with the brush to clean it up.

Refinished Table

Overall, I am so happy with the way this dining room table makeover turned out. My only reservation is that I do wish I had gone with a darker green instead of the light sage, but like with all things, I will give it a few days and see how it sits with me. Until then, I will be on the prowl for the perfect dining room chairs to go with this new beautiful dining room table.

Happy painting everyone!

I am partying it up with more DIY’ers at:

Savvy Southern Style Treasure Hunt Thursday The Dedicated House The Dedicated House

About Misty Spears

I absolutely love all things DIY, especially when it comes to decorating my own home. I’m a thrift store junkie and my head just explodes with ideas to repurpose old junk into something practical and beautiful when I come across that perfect treasure. I’m a wood furniture rebel and try to paint every surface I can to bring color into my life. My life revolves around my family and enjoying every moment that life serves up to me. You can connect with me on Twitter @diyhomeinterior, Instagram @mistyspears and see my pins on Pinterest for a sneak peak into all the DIY projects I am working on and crazy life happenings.


  1. Bonnnie Gean

    May 1, 2014 at 4:06 am

    This is gorgeous! You did a great job and I loved going through all the pictures from start to finish. I wish I lived closer… ROFL

    I would be over at your house A LOT! hehe

    • Misty Spears

      May 1, 2014 at 11:51 am

      Thank you Bonnie! better watch because if you did, we’d both be covered in paint all the time. :) I so badly need a manicure to dig it all out. haha

  2. Marilyn Thompson

    May 1, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Fabulous table, you make it look so easy!
    That intro image would make a great eBook cover, which know you will do one day.

    • Misty Spears

      May 2, 2014 at 12:32 pm

      Thank you Marilyn! Maybe one day a book…one day. lol

  3. Serena

    August 13, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Love this and have a question as I will be doing 2 tables soon.

    When you stain the top, do you tape off the sides where it was painted? or do you stain first then tape?
    (meaning the sides that attach to the legs, but are generally connected to the top of the table when you take it all apart.)

    This is my only issue – do you stain that? Its probably a preference thing..


  4. Misty Spears

    August 27, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Good question. You’ll notice in the pictures I have the legs off and the top of the table is on the ground. I did the legs and table pretty much at the same time. I didn’t tape off the sides (the skirting) of the underneath part, mainly because I knew it would be painted with chalk paint, so no matter what I got on it, it wouldn’t matter. Amazingly though, because the table hangs over pretty far, it was pretty clean. So after the stain was dry, I put the table on top of a block to raise it up and painted the undersides the same color as the legs. I think you could really do it in any order, that just made the most sense for me. Good luck with your project!

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