Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Kitchen Table Makeover

Brace yourselves - this is a LOT of work! Took me weeks to complete it .. doesn't help that I have two babies and therefore couldn't just bang it out all in one day, but still.. LOTS of work people, but so worth it!!


- one ugly kitchen table with chairs
- sandpaper (low grit and fine grit - I used 24 grit to begin with, then 80 grit, then 100 grit, then 150 grit) - told you LOTS of work - you'll also need 220 grit or 300 grit for the polyurethane
- sander
- spray paint
- wood stain
- painters tape
- 2 GOOD paint brushes - one for stain, and one for polyurethane - I would splurge on these as they make a huge difference with the polyurethane top coat! We don't want bubbles people!!!
- polyurethane
- clean rags
- patience
- elbow grease

Step 1:

Start with a nasty table in need of some serious TLC... you can find lots of these at places like Goodwill or garage sales - I got mine for free from a friend who was going to chuck it. (I probably would have if I had known how much work it was). I'm also including how to do the chairs in this tutorial ... The chairs were just as bad as the table.. whew...

Look at all the nastiness!!

Step 2:

Sand. Sand. Sand. Sand. Then sand some more. 

I began with 24 Grit. The top of the table had some DEEP gouges in it, so I needed to get a really rough grit to make sure that I could get the top level. Word to the wise - 24 grit will leave marks in the wood if you're not careful - btw - just make sure to keep the sander moving constantly, and you should be fine. After you go over it with the 24, move on up to the 80 grit and make sure that any additional marks or groves that are left and mostly removed. It takes A LOT of time - so don't rush it. I thought the table was smooth enough when I put my first coat of stain on, but it wasn't. And the stain accentuated the grooves... so then I had to sand the stain off. So be patient, make sure that table top is smooth, smooth, smooth.

Now, sand some more.

Move on up to the 100 grit sandpaper and keep going!! The table should feel like silk by the time you're done! After you satisfied with that, sand it with 150 or 180 grit. Like I keep saying, have patience, and take your time! You don't want to have to go back and sand the stain off after you put it on.

For the chairs - I just spray painted mine, so I just gave them a rough sanding. First with 80 grit to get most of the grooves out and then with 100 grit. But if you're going to sand them, you NEED to do the long, painstaking sanding process the same way you're doing it on your table.

By the time you're done sanding - you should have a beautiful blonde wood tabletop! It should look something like this - 

Step 3:

Tape off the edges of the table, if you want your top to look like mine -

It should look something like this:

The top is stained, and the edges are spray painted.

 If you don't like that look, or don't want it, OR your table doesn't have a beveled edge, then skip the taping and move right onto Step 4.

Step 4:

Stain. Make sure that you begin with a clean surface!! Be sure to wipe off all the dust from sanding, and try (if at all possible) to stain in a controlled environment. I don't have a garage or anything, so I just did mine outside, and it was fine. I just tried my best to keep anything off of it if the wind blew anything onto it. Make sense?

Put your first coat of stain on with the paint brush - be generous - and let it sit for 5 min or so. Then take a CLEAN cloth and wipe it off. It will leave the wood and beautiful color!

Wait for that to dry and then repeat for the 2nd coat. Do as many coats as you need until the wood is a color you LOVE!!

*note* - the bottom of my table is already spray painted white when I went to stain my table. BIG MISTAKE. The stain leaked through the painters tape around the edge and I had to repaint my table after I was done staining. See above picture - So STAIN FIRST - PAINT SECOND.

Step 5:

After the wood is a color you love, let's move on to painting. Put a clean, thick cloth (think towel, or felt or something similar) on the top of you table - make sure the stain is COMPLETELY DRY for this part. Make sure you cloth covers the entire top surface and put painter tape around the edge. I don't have a picture for this step, but you need to make sure that the tape is sealed and that the top is completely covered.

Now paint the rest of the table... If you're table has a beveled top like mine, you'll need to make sure that your painters tape is NOT on that part. The tape needs to be JUST on the STAINED part of the table... make sense?? I used spray paint, because I knew I could get an even coating. I used Rust-Oleum's Heirloom White in a Satin finish.

Keep the can of spray paint about 10 inches away and in constant motion to prevent dripping. You'll need to do multiple coats for complete coverage - I think I did 3 coats. Use the same method for the chairs.

Step 6:

This is the trickiest and perhaps the most important step. Sealing the top using polyurethane. I used a fast drying clear gloss polyurethane and it worked great for me.

 This NEEDS to be done in a controlled environment. If you're like me and don't have a garage, then the only option is to do it indoors. I brought my table into my kitchen after I was done staining and painting, and planned to seal it on a day when I knew I'd be gone with my kids. 

I only sealed the part of my table that was stained. The white edge around the top of my table is just paint - and it's been working fine. It hasn't been chipping or anything so I don't feel the need to seal it.

Take your VERY NICE paint brush and begin to apply the polyurethane. Go slow and make sure that you're not leaving bubbles behind. You have to take your time, but you also can't go so slow that it dries before you are done.

After your first coat is COMPLETELY dry - like 24 hours later - BARELY rough it up with some VERY FINE sandpaper - like 220 or 300 grit, and apply a second coat. 

If after the 2nd coat, you still want more shine - repeat the whole process again.

If that didn't make sense to you - here's some more information on how to apply a polyurethane finish-

When you are completely done, you need to WAIT. DON'T use your table, don't touch your table, don't put anything on your table for about 3 days. Longer if possible to make sure that the polyurethane really cures! This was the worst step for me as I have a 2 year old and I had to gate off my kitchen which led to LOTS of meltdowns because he couldn't get his fruit snacks.

When all is said and done, enjoy your new beautiful table!! It was a lot of work, but look how good it looks, and look at what you accomplished!! Amazing!!

Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or anything!!


  1. the table turned out awesome, hailey! wanna come paint my bunk beds? :)

  2. How many cans of paint did you use for the entire project?

  3. Do you remember what color and brand of stain you used?

  4. Yes, do you remember what color of stain you used?