Refinishing 101: From Used to Modern Dining Table

Hola amigos! I’m here today to share the process I took to turn my bargain dining table into the lovely, modern piece it is now. I’m blessed to have a mom that’s been refinishing furniture for years (she’s an Interior Designer by trade), and she showed me how to do the entire process when my parent’s came to visit a couple weekends ago. She’s kind of like my personal Yoda. :)

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a professional. Although I was taught by one, her first advice is always to read the labels first. Please observe all safety instructions and follow handling methods as listed on the materials themselves!

09-14-13 Table Refinishing 101 by Britta Swiderski

Let’s begin with a look at the supplies used for this project. I’ve linked to all of them below mostly so you can see exact specifications of what I used. Everything we used on the project was purchased at Home Depot or a hand-me-down from my mom (most likely also purchased at Home Depot). Really, we should buy stock in Home Depot.

09-14-13 Refinishing 101 Supplies by Britta Swiderski

For staining table top – oil-based:

  • Zinsser Deglosser (amazon)
  • Chemical Safety Gloves (always use these with deglosser!) (amazon)
  • 2″ brush or 2.5″ brush (to be used with oil-based products only) (amazon)
  • Minwax Polyshades Classic Black Satin Stain and Poly in One (amazon)
  • 000 Steel Wool (amazon)
  • Tack cloth (amazon)
  • Mineral Spirits (for cleaning brushes or splatters of stain) (amazon)

For painting table legs – water-based:

  • Rust-oleum Filler Primer in Grey (amazon)
  • Spray handle for easy spraying (the shining hero of the day!) (amazon)
  • 2″ or 2.5″ brush (to be used with water-based products) (amazon)
  • Small paint brush for getting into detail work and tight areas
  • Behr Latex Flat Interior Paint in Aqua Spray (two light coats used approx. 1/3 quart) (home depot)
  • Minwax Polycrylic Water-Based Clear Satin Protective Finish Spray (amazon)

General supplies:

  • Paint drop cloth
  • Soap and water (remove any existing dirt or dust before priming)
  • Sheet of plastic + painters’ tape (to mask off table top)
  • Cardboard to act as a guard for overspray if working in a confined area
  • Plastic wrap (for wrapping up brushes in between coats)
  • Old t-shirts or shop rags
  • Cups and container for holding mineral spirits while and after cleaning

Got it? Okay, let’s refinish a table!


I had cleaned the table thoroughly with soap and water when I got it home, so my mom decided to get off any residual dust or dirt with a quick wipe-down of deglosser on a rag.

09-14-13 Refinishing Table Used to Modern by Britta Swiderski WM2-6

Then, we went over and brushed on a coat of the deglosser onto the entire table. Be careful when handling this stuff – it’s not good to get on skin! Wash it off with soap and water if you drip any onto your arms or legs during this step.

09-14-13 Refinishing Table Used to Modern by Britta Swiderski WM2-7

Let sit according to directions on bottle. This step preps the table for us so we don’t have to sand. YAY!


Stir the PolyShades very gently with a stir stick to avoid adding any bubbles in and then brush the stain on with the grain of the wood, working in sections. This sets very quickly, so work to get the product down and then go over with a final stroke to make everything look pretty before moving on to the next section

Note that the grain on this table was a chevron-type pattern, so we elected to go across the grain. It still looks good, but you can still see strokes in both directions. That was the nature of the beast with this table, though!

09-14-13 Refinishing Table Used to Modern by Britta Swiderski WM2-11

Don’t forget to do these same steps with the leaves as well.

09-14-13 Refinishing Table Used to Modern by Britta Swiderski WM2-13

After the first coat is dry (we waited overnight – it was very humid and hot), go over the surface with 000 (said “triple ot”) steel wool in smallish circles. You don’t need to scour the surface, but you should be able to see where you’ve went over with the wool.

09-14-13 Refinishing Table Used to Modern by Britta Swiderski WM2-14

Pick up dust and any debris with a good wipe-down with a tack cloth. (Tip: be sure to store these sealed up in plastic, as they can dry out if left out in the open for a too long.)

Now apply the second coat of stain and let it dry!

09-14-13 Refinishing Table Used to Modern by Britta Swiderski WM2-15

The next day, mask of your beautifully refinished top with some plastic and secure the edges with painters’ tape. If you’re a pro at painting like my mom, you could skip this step and just use a cardboard shield while spraying your primer.

Oh, here’s a good place to make sure your table legs are clean by going over them with soap and water. Let dry completely.


Apply spray primer to your table legs. I followed the can’s instructions and found that two coats of primer was perfect. I used about a can and a half of primer, so plan accordingly! (I was also learning how to spray paint, so my numbers may be a little skewed.)


After your primer is completely dry (give it a few hours), apply your first coat of paint. Use a small paint brush to get into detail work and grooves. The first coat take about three times longer to paint than the second coat, promise! After the first coat’s dry, apply the second coat.

Let the table dry for as long as possible before sealing it. Once you seal it, nothing underneath is going to be able to breathe to dry any more. I waited overnight just to be safe.


Follow the poly’s instructions to apply the sealer the table. I applied four thin coats of the Polycrylic to get a really good amount of protection. The satin finish of this product is delicious!

09-14-13 Refinishing Table Used to Modern by Britta Swiderski WM2-23

And here’s the finished top. It’s dark, but you can still see some of the woodgrain show through. I love it.

09-14-13 Refinishing Table Used to Modern by Britta Swiderski WM2-26

Here’s a better look of the satin finish on the legs. It’s just so perfectly satin…. and it looks awesome, too.

So what do you think? Was my first refinishing job a success?

It took about 14 hours of total work to complete and was worth every minute. The entire thing was a learning process, so I have a feeling the process won’t be *quite* as long next time. That being said, patience and proper timing is the name of the game in refinishing furniture. I found something so cathartic about this whole process, and being able to learn my mom made this experience all the more special. Since finishing the table, I’ve started work on the dining chairs and already have plans for a few more pieces (at least three – ah!) to refinish from the living room.

I’ve added a new category to the side of my blog titled “DIY Home” and plan to add to it regularly from this point onward. I’ve spent *a lot* of time at Home Depot lately. Teehee! Stay tuned for more of this and more of that. More cards, more crafts and more life.

Thanks for stopping by today and for letting me share my adventure with you!



Filed under DIY Home

31 Responses to Refinishing 101: From Used to Modern Dining Table

  1. conil

    What a great find and boy did you give it a spectacular makeover …camera ready and gorgeous.

  2. Karen G (cardcrazed)

    Gorgeous table Britta :) I have never seen the Polycrylic in a spray can before.. probably some weird Canadian rule about it…. LOVE the aqua.

  3. Your table came out stunning! Great project for you & your mom to do together! I’ve always wanted to refinish some furniture, and this blog post takes a lot of the fear and mystery out of it for me. Thanks, and I hope you post the steps again on your next few pieces!

  4. I bow down to you oh majestic furniture refinisher. What a beautiful transformation……you did it!!! You make me want to paint my new dining room table :)

  5. It’s flat-out gorgeous, Britta! Nice work!

  6. It turned out so beautiful Britta! Great job =)

  7. BarbGhig

    Your table turned out BEAUTIFULLY, Britta! I’m so happy for you that you got to spend time with your mom, and learned how to refinish furniture! I can’t wait to see more projects, too…please post them for us!

    Thanks for sharing all the pics and step-by-step instructions with us…I hope all is well with you!

  8. Valerie Gee

    Amazing! I’m completely inspired to do the kitchen table I just got at a yard sale…. I need to cover the chairs too… Time for me to figure this all out. Thanks for the inspiration, as always! XXOO from CO,

  9. Really amazing work. You have really transformed this table into a brand new modern table.

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    Really pretty :) and of course, now I want to find something to refinish ;) as always, thanks for sharing your inspiring creations!

  12. Amazing now I want to go out and find a table just like this and do the same im mad about the colour. well done :)

  13. Terri

    I had to laugh- I wanted to refinish my table that I got from my grandmother. While searching for ideas I saw your pin- it’s the exact same table! I am ready to start the stain now. I hope mine turns out as pretty as yours!

  14. I’m working on refinishing a table and chairs. The last step where you sealed, did you use the minwax clear satin spray? Did you spray it on both the legs and the top?

    Great job, it looks fantastic

    • Hey Beth! I only spray-finished the table legs (the places that were covered with paint). The polyshades stain has a sealant built into it, plus it’s oil-based, so I would’ve had to use a different type of sealant had I wanted to provide extra protection to the top. :) Hope that helps!

  15. sarah

    I just got this same table amd was wondering how to finish it what you did and that you explained step by step..ill be doing this tomorrow..thank u

  16. Tina

    Wow, your table is amazing! Now, I’m totally inspired to refurbish my kitchen table.
    How did you end up doing your chairs? Are they black like the table top or light blue like the table legs??

    • Thank you so much for your sweet words! I actually ended up painting them four shades and two shades darker than the table legs. I had 5 chairs, so the extra chair is the same color as the table legs. It looks awesome and just mis-matched enough for it to still fit into my original concept. I used some striped fabric from Ikea (where I pulled the blue from in the first place for the darkest chair) I’ve been wanting to do a post about refinishing the chairs, but time has gotten away from me (ehem… a year of time… oops). Here’s a picture of the finished set all together!

      Finished Chairs

      Thanks for asking! Do you think I should still do a follow-up post about the chairs?

      • Tina

        I’m obsessed with your finished product! You should most definitely do a follow-up post about the chairs. The table alone was amazing, but with the chairs, it takes it to a whole new level! Thank you for sharing your DIY knowledge!

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  18. Looks amazing. I have a table been wanting to do with stain top and I thought I had to sand all the way down to the grain. This has me more excited to get started on it :) Your table is beautiful !!

  19. April

    Hi. Britta,

    You did a fantastic job with this project. Was the top of this table laminate or just lacquer over stain?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hey April,

      I’m not sure which you’re referring to: the table before we refinished it or the method we used to finish it, so I’ll address both. The table is solid wood with a bit of veneer on the top table surface. We cleaned, added deglosser and stained it. The stain we used, PolyShades, is both a stain and a sealant. After the second coat was dry, the tabletop was sealed and ready to go.

      Hope that helps and thanks so much for stopping by!


  20. lauren

    Hi!!! I love this table! I have my grandmother’s table and want to do the same thing. It’s stained and sealed a honey color. So we want to do a similar color pallet you did. How has it held up? I have 2 small kids and want this to be resilliant against them lol. Thanks!!

    • The table has held up well! The paint does mar pretty easily on the legs, so I would put a couple more coats of sealant on it if you don’t care for the “broken in” look. Haha! But the top is great. It puts up with a lot! The only things that have made little marks on it are things like dropping a knife on the table (I’m insanely clumsy), and the leaves have a bit of wear and tear from being pulled in and out of storage. I wouldn’t do anything differently knowing what I know now except maybe adding another coat of varnish. :)

  21. Dc

    I just finished a project very similar to this and I love the way it came out! I also used a polyacrylic satin spray as my finish and it seems to keep getting scratch marks. I don’t know how to clean it off? What do you use? I’m thinking about going over it with semi-gloss, do you think it would help it not to get marks?

    • Hey Dc,
      My satin finish definitely shows some scratch marks, but it doesn’t bother me very much. If you’re looking for a really flawless finish, though, I recommend going over with a “harder” finish, or even a finish with a brush, to provide better coverage. Satin is a very pretty finish, but it definitely isn’t the most durable. Adding a new layer of sealant over the satin should help with any marks. Hope this helps!

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