The How-To On Refinishing a Dining Table…

Hello everyone!  Today I wanted to talk about refinishing kitchen/dining tables.  My sweet neighbor, Julie, recently asked me for advice on refinishing hers, so I decided to compile a post on the step by step procedure.

I told her I would give her several different images to choose from, then break down the process for her.  Her table is rectangular and solid oak.  It is a beautiful table, just beginning to show a little wear.  Here are a few images I came across:


Lighter top with black legs and black chairs.



Espresso top with white legs.


All black table.


Espresso top with white legs.


Espresso top with black legs.

Soooooo, I will leave it up to Julie to decide which one she likes best, but if I had to choose it would be:

 I love the dark wood top and white underside and legs.  Now on to the process of refinishing…

  1. Sand the top of the table with an orbital sander using 120 grit sandpaper.  You want to remove all of the existing finish and take it down to raw wood.
  2. Sand the legs with a 200 grit sandpaper.  It is not as important to get all of the stain completely off because you will be painting the legs.
  3. Use a cloth to remove all dust from sanding.
  4. Use a stain blocking spray primer on everything except the top and underside of the top of the table  (everywhere that you are painting).  Zinnser oil based spray primer is supposed to work well. (Available at Stone Lumber)  If any areas aren’t nice and smooth, sand lightly with 220 to make it smooth.
  5. Apply Minwax Red mahogany to the top using a foam brush.  Always go with the grain!  Apply liberally and allow to sit for about 15-20 min.  You want the dark color to penetrate the wood as much as possible.  Wipe off stain.  If you still want a darker color, start the process again.
  6. Paint the base “Creamy” by Sherwin Williams in a semigloss, using a paint brush.
  7. Allow to dry overnight.
  8. Apply a wipeable polyurethane in a satin finish on the entire piece.  Sand lightly using 220 grit sandpaper and reapply.  Apply at least 5 coats, sanding in between.  Follow the directions on the can of polyurethane for more thorough instructions.
  9. Allow to dry for at least 48 hours before any heavy use.

This is the approach I would use if I was doing this project.  I have heard conflicting opinions about stripping a wood piece before sanding.  On some pieces I think stripping is necessary, but in this case, where she is going darker with the stain and the top doesn’t have a thick shiny varnish, I don’t think I would.  Some people believe that applying a wood conditioner after sanding allows for more even stain coverage also.

If anyone has any experience with a similar project, I would love to hear what you think!  I’d like to give Julie the best advice possible!

So what do you think?  Strip it or just sand it?  Is wood conditioner necessary?  Thanks for coming by!


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3 thoughts on “The How-To On Refinishing a Dining Table…

  1. WOW Amy you know your stuff better than I do! I am really proud of all your wonderful projects.One thing before you stain really make sure you have all the dust and debris off of the top, as it will really show up on the finished product, also make sure you have a well ventalated room Jade can fill you in on why that is so necesary. So happy that I know THE SAVVY STAGER <3

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