Refinishing an Old Table

Refinishing an Old Table

Refinishing an old table.

If you haven’t jumped on the up-cycling bandwagon yet you should!  Turning old, decrepit furnishings into something gorgeous is one way to be a hip, sustainable up-cycler.  It’s also a great way to get cool furniture for cheap.

Making old furniture fabulous again may be easier than you think.  It’s fun, fairly simple and it’s an inexpensive way to furnish a house or porch.

table 4

I found an old, ugly table at a thrift store.

It had 5 coats of assorted paint on it – mostly yellow.

It was heavy, chunky and solid.

I liked the “bones” of it.

table 1

I also liked the price.  It was $19.99.

I thought with a little love it could be nice.

I also figured if it didn’t turn out nice it wasn’t the end of the world.

So, I took it home and put it in our garage.  table 2

I spent a good month dreading the stripping process.  It is hard to strip round legs.

table Collage 2Once I got motivated the stripping began.  First the top.  Then the sides and then……… the legs.

I won’t lie, stripping the legs was not fun.

They were round – ugh.

They were huge – ugh.

They had 5 coats of paint on them – ugh.

I ran out of stripper 3 times while stripping the legs of this table.

I spent 3 times as much on stripper as I spent on the table.  $60 worth of stripper.  
table 7

Once it was naked I sanded it and wiped it down with a damp cloth to get all the dust off.  That’s my oldest daughter – she helped.

Now comes the fun part.  Making something old beautiful again.  table 8

I moved the table back into the garage and began applying coats of stain.  I stained the top darker and the legs lighter.

I used a Minwax oil-based stain.  I actually used several Minwax oil-based stains.  All you have to do is rub it on with a dry washcloth.  Applying stain this way is fast, fun and easy.  It is nearly impossible to mess up.

Here’s some useful tips:

  1. Start light – you can always apply more coats of stain or change color if you want it to be deeper.
  2. Dilute your stain with some paint thinner in order to keep the color lighter (remember you can always add more)
  3. Use an old, dry wash cloth (or rag) to apply stain.  I find it is more forgiving and won’t get gloppy or gluey like it can with a brush.
  4. To give it an ‘old world’ look use a wash cloth to rub on some ebony (jet black) paint on top of the stain.  It will stick in all the cracks, scratches and grooves and give it a great look.
  5. Just keep applying different coats and colors until you get the look you want.  I have about 30 cans of paints and stains in my garage, so this is always free.
  6. On the legs I sporadically applied some ivory colored paint.  Then I  rubbed more stain over the paint.
  7. Dry brushing paint onto a piece is a great look.

Just keep layering paint and stain until you like it.  There is no way to mess this up.  Sandpaper is the eraser that will fix everything.  Mineral Spirits or paint thinner can be used to lighten up “too dark” areas.

Have fun & make it your own.

table 9

I like everything to look like it is 500 years old.  Not only is this look rustic and awesome, it is also timeless and very forgiving.   When you have a number of children using and assaulting your furniture, an aged look works in your favor.

After the stain dried I brushed several coats of clear, satin-finish poly on the entire table (top, sides & legs).  Of course, I let each coat of poly dry between coats.  I think this table has 4 coats on it.  I have 4 kids, so that’s a coat per kid.  That should help it survive the abuse.
table 10

It is a lovely addition to my screened-in, back porch.
table 11

I think it turned out great.  Upscale furniture stores are asking close to $1,000 for vintage, rustic tables that look similar to this one.

Mine was only $80 (table-$20 and refinishing supplies-$60).  Not bad, eh?

It can get rained on, snowed on or whatever else on and I don’t have to stress about it.


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