Easy Way To Refinish A Table

A table is not just a piece of furniture; it’s the centerpiece of a room, a gathering place for family and friends. Over time, tables can lose their luster, with scratches, stains, and worn-out finishes. However, with the right knowledge and tools, you can transform an old, tired-looking table into a stunning focal point. Refinishing a table is a rewarding project that allows you to breathe new life into a beloved piece or give a thrift store find a second chance. In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of refinishing a table, restoring its beauty and durability.

Why Refinish a Table?

Refinishing a table offers numerous benefits and is a popular choice for individuals looking to update their furniture. Here are some compelling reasons why you might consider refinishing a table:

  1. Restoration: Refinishing allows you to restore the table’s original beauty, especially if it is an antique or holds sentimental value. It can revive worn-out wood, repair damage, and bring back the table’s former glory.
  2. Personalization:Refinishing gives you the opportunity to customize the table to suit your personal style and preferences. You can choose a new stain or paint color that complements your existing décor or experiment with different finishes to create a unique look.
  3. Cost-effective:Refinishing a table is generally more affordable than purchasing a brand-new one. By giving your existing table a makeover, you can save money while still achieving a fresh and updated appearance.
  4. Sustainability:Refinishing promotes sustainability by reducing waste and extending the lifespan of your furniture. Instead of discarding a perfectly functional table, refinishing allows you to breathe new life into it, reducing the demand for new resources.
  5. Sentimental value:Refinishing a table can be an emotional journey, especially if it holds sentimental value. Whether it’s a family heirloom or a table that has been a part of your life for years, refinishing can preserve the memories associated with it while giving it a new look.
  6. Increased durability:Refinishing involves applying a protective sealant, such as polyurethane or varnish, which enhances the table’s durability and resistance to scratches, stains, and moisture. This extends the lifespan of the table and ensures it withstands daily use.

How to Refinish a Table


Step 1: Gather the Necessary Tools and Materials

Before you begin the refinishing process, make sure you have all the tools and materials required for the job. You will need:

  • Safety equipment: Gloves, safety goggles, and a dust mask to protect yourself from chemicals and dust.
  • Drop cloths or plastic sheets:To protect your work area from drips and spills.
  • Sandpaper: Different gritssandpaper ranging from coarse to fine to remove the existing finish.
  • Chemical stripper: To remove the old finish effectively.
  • Scraper: To scrape off the old finish and any stubborn residue.
  • Wood filler:For filling any cracks, dents, or imperfections in the table.
  • Stain or paint: To give the table a new color or finish.
  • Polyurethane or varnish: To seal and protect the surface.
  • Brushes, rags, or foam applicators:For applying the stripper, stain, and finish.

Step 2: Prepare the Work Area

Before diving into the refinishing process, set up a well-ventilated area with ample space for maneuvering. Lay down drop cloths or plastic sheets to protect the floor and ensure easy cleanup. If possible, work outdoors to minimize exposure to fumes.

Step 3: Remove the Old Finish

Start by applying the chemical stripper to the table’s surface. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, as different strippers have varying application methods. Allow the stripper to sit on the table for the recommended time, which typically ranges from 15 to 30 minutes.

Once the stripper has loosened the old finish, use a scraper to gently remove it. Be cautious not to damage the wood beneath. Work in the direction of the wood grain, taking care to scrape away any residue left behind.

After scraping off the old finish, use sandpaper to smooth the surface further. Begin with a coarse grit (around 80 or 100) and gradually progress to a finer grit (around 180 or 220). Sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid scratches.

Step 4: Repair and Prepare the Wood

Inspect the table for any cracks, dents, or imperfections. Use wood filler to fill in these areas, following the product instructions for application and drying time. Once the filler has hardened, sand the table again, this time using a medium-grit sandpaper (around 120) to create a smooth and even surface.

Step 5: Apply the Stain or Paint

Now comes the exciting part – applying the stain or paint to achieve the desired finish. Test the stain or paint on a small, inconspicuous area of the table to ensure you are satisfied with the color. Once you are confident, apply the stain or paint evenly, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Use a brush, foam applicator, or rag, depending on the product’s recommendation.

Apply the stain or paint in thin coats, allowing each layer to dry completely before applying the next. This will prevent blotches or uneven coloration. If you desire a deeper color, apply additional coats, ensuring consistency in coverage.

Step 6: Seal and Protect the Surface

To protect the newly refinished table, apply a sealant such as polyurethane or varnish. Choose a finish that suits your style, whether it’s a glossy, satin, or matte appearance. Apply the sealant with a brush, following the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying time and the number of coats needed.

Sand lightly between coats with fine-grit sandpaper (around 220) to achieve a smooth finish. This will also help subsequent coats adhere better.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

Once the sealant has dried completely, inspect the table for any imperfections or rough spots. Lightly sand those areas and apply an additional coat of sealant if necessary.

Finally, clean up your work area, remove the drop cloths or plastic sheets, and let the table cure for the recommended time before using it.


Refinishing a table is a satisfying and transformative DIY project that can give a worn-out piece of furniture a new lease on life. By following these step-by-step instructions, you can successfully refinish your table and create a stunning centerpiece for your home. Remember to prioritize safety, be patient with each stage, and take the time to prepare and repair the wood properly. With careful attention to detail and a bit of creativity, you’ll have a beautifully refinished table that will be the envy of your friends and family.

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