Vintage Home Decor

How to Refinish a Dining Room Table

It is easier than you might think to refinish a dining room table! Maybe I just think so, because we had the opportunity to practice on many table sets in the past. Since early 2012, we have been refinishing vintage furniture with specialty paint and painting techniques. I wish I had the before pictures of this project, but unfortunately, I don’t.


At this point, we have already sanded down the old finish all the way to the raw wood. A lovely Stickley, cherry wood table that our client wanted to be refreshed. We used 80 grit sandpaper on a palm sander to get rid of the old layers of stain and varnish. Followed by 220 grit to make it a little smoother to the touch.


Our client opted to go for a painted, distressed finish on the table legs and chairs. This is Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint in the color, Grain Sack. A light gray, neutral color that often changes according to other colors that surround it. Sometimes it looks white, sometimes it looks gray and sometimes it looks beige.

On this table leaf is the first coat of General Finishes, Nutmeg, Gel Stain. It is easy to apply and wipe off. Dries fast and is truly user-friendly! Also not as stinky as some the stains out there. We used a total of two coats of stain. It was applied with a staining sponge and wiped off with a paper towel.

You can keep on layering it until you have reached the desired depth of color, you are looking for. We wanted the grain of the wood to be very visible. The additional layers of High-Performance Top Coat will intensify the color as well.
The picture above was taken after two coats of gel stain and two coats of General Finishes, High-Performance Top Coat, in Satin. Let each coat of stain and top coat dry thoroughly and sand each coat very lightly with a fine sanding sponge. We love to use these…

The third layer of High Performance was added for extra durability. Here is the result… Safely delivered to the happy owner. Don’t you just love the hand rubbed look instead of globs of old-fashioned varnish!? The chairs didn’t come out too “shabby” either. {No pun intended}

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2 Comments

  1. Jennifer D. Domaracki on October 15, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Awesome work!

    Would the table top sand and stain be able to be done with teak wood — or it that a no-no?

    • VintageHipDecor on October 15, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      Yes, absolutely. It can be done with any kind of wood. The end result will obviously look different in each instance. Each type of wood has a different kind of grain. Almost like a thumb print. Choose a stain color according to the end result you are looking for.

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