Learn how to refinish a table with tips on how to remove the finish, prepare the wood for staining, stain the table, and protect it with polyurethane. This post contains affiliate links and sponsored products.
Oh how I wish I could work this fast in real life! Watch me refinish this table in 60 seconds in the video below.
Our breakfast nook table was purchased 8 years ago. When I think about the life of a table that doesn’t seem like a very long time, but our family of four has lived a lot of our lives around this table! We eat our meals, do homework, play board games, complete school projects, execute lego builds, design craft projects, meet deadlines, and complete blog posts at this table. The poor finish on the table was reflecting all of that wear and tear and it was time to do something about it.
I was originally going to just paint the table white and call it a day, but I knew in my heart that the table would chip and I wouldn’t be happy with it long-term. Refinishing a table is a lot more work than painting, but the payoff is worth it!
How to Refinish a Table
Step 1: Gather your tools and supplies.
Step 2: Put on your safety gear (chemical gloves and eye protection), place Citristrip in metal pail, and paint on Citristrip.
Paint on a generous layer of product, about 1/8 inch thick. The packaging states that you can leave the product on between 1-24 hours; however, you don’t want to wait too long before removing the Citristrip because you risk the product drying on the table. It becomes white and flaky as it dries and is much more difficult to remove.
I usually wait about 1.5-2 hrs before beginning to scrape off the product and stain.
Step 3: Scrape product off table using plastic scraper and steel brush.
Using a steel brush to scrape off product may scratch your table if you’re not careful. I was going for a rustic look on this table, so I wasn’t worried if the wood received a few blemishes from the brushes. My goal was to remove the glossy finish and most of the stain from the table but not to get down to bare wood. This method worked perfectly for my goal!
Step 4: Clean off remaining product and stain with mineral spirits and then sand table and remove debris with a tack cloth.
Use your disposable rags and wet them with mineral spirits to clean the remaining product off of your table. I wasn’t interested in taking the table down to absolute bare wood, so I just used a high grit sandpaper (220) to prepare the table for staining. If you want to sand the table properly, start with a coarser grit sandpaper (lower number) and work your way up to a finer grit (higher number) sandpaper. Do you remember how badly damaged the leg of the table was from all of those puppy teeth marks? I was able to fix the leg just by removing the poly & stain and lightly sanding it! The leg looks perfect now with no visible blemishes.
Step 5: Paint on stain and then remove with a clean rag.
Stain is not paint. Stain penetrates into the wood and is meant to be wiped off after application. You simply apply it with a paintbrush and then wipe it off with a clean rag. The amount of time you allow the stain to remain on the wood can affect the richness of color. I like to use disposable foam brushes to paint on my stain. For this table, I used Minwax Classic Gray to tone down the wood and match our Singleton Accent Kitchen Chairs from Raymour & Flanigan. The stain ended up being absolutely perfect for the look I was going for!
Repeat this step several times and follow the directions on the packaging for dry times! I recommend applying between 4-5 coats of poly on a tabletop that will be receiving a lot of wear and tear.
On my table, I used Minwax Matte Polycrylic to give the table protection without altering the gorgeous color or flat sheen. This was my first time using a matte finish, and I love the way it looks!
Let’s revisit how far this table has come!
You might be wondering where my new gorgeous chairs are from! I received the Singleton Accent Kitchen Chairs online from Raymour & Flanigan to review as part of the Raymour & Flanigan Influencer Program. If you’re not familiar with Raymour & Flanigan, they are a furniture and home goods store with showrooms throughout the Northeast United States. They also offer online delivery to most zip codes in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. As well as parts of Washington D.C., Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. If you live on the East Coast, you need to check out their furniture and home accessories!
I was worried about stains on the beautiful upholstery, so upon arrival I scotchgarded every chair with several coats of scotchgard. We’ve used the chairs for a few months now and so far so good! I plan on reapplying the scotchgard every 6 months or so as a protective measure. Our previous chairs were okay; however, they were not comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. My husband disliked our previous chairs and requested that I find some replacements. We use this little kitchen nook so heavily and these comfy Singleton Accent Kitchen Chairs have made a big difference in the look and feel of the space! I’m thrilled with how beautiful and comfy everything looks now.
Curtains: Gray Buffalo Check Fabric
Rug: Maui Jute Braided Rug 8′ Round in Natural by RugsUSA
Thank you Raymour & Flanigan for allowing me to review your Singleton Accent Chairs for this post! All words and opinions are my own. If you liked this post, be sure to check out the related posts below for more tips on furniture refinishing.