10 things I wish I knew before my kitchen table refinish
Everyone likes a good DIY project. But if you’re going to put in all that time and effort, you might as well make sure it looks good. A kitchen table refinish is no exception. Here’s 10 things I learned along the way that I wish I had known before I started. Check it out.
So, this kitchen table originally belonged to my grandma. My sister used it for 11 years and finally it got passed on to me. Refinishing a table is much cheaper than buying a brand new one so I knew I was up for the task. However, there were a few mistakes that I make along the way. Here’s what I wish I would have known before my kitchen table refinish.
#1: A kitchen table refinish is a marathon not a sprint
If you think you’re going to have this simple project done over the weekend. Think again. If you want it done right, it’s going to take a while. Several layers of sanding, three layers of paint, staining and three layers of polyurethane. Yep. That’s what it is going to take. But if you’ve accepted that from the beginning, you are less likely to cut corners and end up with a less-than appealing end result.
#2: Use an electric sander
Your paint and your stain won’t adhere to the table unless you sand off all of the finish. This takes time and if you’re doing it by hand, you might go crazy. Spend 50 bucks and invest in an electric sander. You will thank me later. I like the Ryobi Orbit Sander. It’s easy to hold and include a dust bag as well. But really any electric sander will do.
I started with a sandpaper with 80 grit to remove the finish. Then 180 grit to prepare the surface and finally a 320 grit to complete the finish. You can also sand parts of the table that don’t have a flat surface by hand.
#3: Sand in between layers
I know. It sounds weird. But when you light sand each paint layer with a really fine sandpaper, it removes the stroke marks from the paint brush and gives it a really professional, clean look.
#4: Don’t aim for perfection
You’re most likely not doing this DIY project to sell in a professional furniture store. If it’s just going in your kitchen, don’t stress if it’s not perfect. You might have a paint glob here or there or a stroke marks. I figure it just adds character.
#5: Layers, layers, layers
I mentioned this earlier, but the more layers you can add, the better, especially the polyurethane. A kitchen table is the most highly-used piece of furniture in your hope. If you skimp on the layers, you’re going to get knicks right away and it’s going to look kind of crappy.
#6: Choose a dark stain
If you’re looking for a dark stain, just remember it always turns out lighter than you think. I originally used a dark walnut on the top of the table and chairs. It definitely was too light. I end up using the darkest stain I could find which was Varathane ebony wood stain. Then I was able to achieve the look I was hoping for.
#7: Apply a spray polyurethane
They have come a long way with polyurethanes. Save yourself a lot of time and spray the polyurethane on all the surfaces that aren’t flat. I used Varathane Ultimate Spray Polyurethane. Make sure you apply at least three layers of polyurethane. This is what is going to make your table last through the years without any chips or dings. Trust me. It is worth the time, effort and money. Plus, it will make a smoother finish.
#8: Carefully consider oil-based vs. water-based
The jury is still out whether oil-based stains and polyurethanes or water-based is the way to go. I used oil-based because it penetrates the wood and looks better years down the road. According to stormsystem.com, here’s some pros and cons to consider:
Water based stain advantages:
- Dry quickly
- Keep its color for a longer period of time
- Provides a richer hue of color
- No harmful odor or fumes, not flammable
- Breathable stain
- Easier cleanup
- Extremely mildew and mold resistant
Oil-based stain advantages:
- Requires more time to dry which allows for a more even finish
- Penetrates wood deeper
- Extremely durable
- Thicker seal for wood
- Less long-term maintenance
#9: Wait until completely dry
After one day, you might think your finish is completely dry, but think again. You’ll wait to hold off on sitting at and using your table until at least three days. Unless you don’t mind Levi marks forever left on the seats of your chairs.
#10: A plastic table cloth is your friend
After you’ve slaved away for days and days on your table, the last thing you want is for your five-year-old to carve a tic-tac-toe game into your beautiful finish. Yes, that did happen to me. Placing a simple plastic table cloth over your table will provide a simple protection to keep your table looking as good as the day your finished it. I bought an Elaine Karen Clear Tablecloth on Amazon for less than $9 and it is perfect.
What other ideas do you have to make your kitchen table refinish a success? Leave your comments below.
Related link: Step-by-step dresser makeover for $20