How to Refinish Wood Tables
A fresh coat of stain or paint can give a weathered wooden table a fresh, new look and many more years of use. Whether you opt for a natural wood stain or a bold coat of paint, giving your table a fresh look is so simple that you can complete the project yourself.
Preparing the Table
Step 1 – Cleaning
First, clean the table. Wipe down the tabletop with a damp cloth to get rid of any dust or cobwebs before removing the existing finish.
Step 2 – Sanding
Next, sand away the finish. Start with heavy-grit sandpaper, such as 100-grit, to remove the majority of the finish. Then, give it another pass with 150-grit sandpaper. Finally, sand it with 220-grit sandpaper to smooth out the grain.
Step 3 – Using a Chemical Stripper
Warning: Follow all appropriate safety precautions when using a chemical stripper. Wear gloves and use a face mask.
Next, use a chemical stripper according to the product's directions. Usually, you will apply the stripper to the wood table with a paintbrush and allow the chemicals to loosen the finish. Then, using a plastic — not metal — scraper, remove the finish. If most of the finish doesn’t come off the first time, repeat this step.
Step 4 – Scrubbing With Steel Wool
Once most of the finish is gone, dip a piece of steel wool into the stripping solvent, and rub the steel wool on the table. Go with the grain of the wood when scrubbing. This step will help remove any stubborn spots of the old finish.
Step 5 – Sanding Again
With a piece of medium- or fine-grit sandpaper, go over the table in the direction of the wood grain to remove any last traces of finish. Smooth out rough spots or blemished areas for a uniform look. Use a tack cloth to collect leftover wood dust.
Staining the Table
Step 1 – Applying Stain
If you want to paint the table instead of stain it, move on to the next step. To stain the table, apply the stain evenly with a paintbrush. Remove any drips or excessive stain immediately to avoid patches. Then, use a sheet of cheesecloth to absorb any excess stain. For a deeper finish, repeat this step.
Step 2 – Applying a Clear Coat
For stained tables, apply 2-4 coats of paste wax or polyurethane with a paintbrush to protect the table. Let the table dry for at least 24 hours before using it.
To paint the table, use a paintbrush to apply two coats of paint. Use the brush to wipe up any drips for a more even look. Let the table dry for several hours, or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.