Dining Room Table Makeover

We have all encountered those scraped up and rundown dining room tables, wether you’re kicking around a garage sale, wondering through a secondhand store or driving by and see one sitting on the side of the road with a big FREE sign on it. (Lucky You!) There is always this little voice inside your head saying

“This would actually look pretty good if it was refinished.” Well you would be correct and you should do it!

As you can see from the pictures that is exactly what happened. Except I wasn’t the one treasure hunting at every garage sale in town that day, but my parents and sister were and struck refurbishing gold. Being stuck at work on a Saturday is really a bummer sometimes, thankfully my family knows my heart and ok that I also really needed a table, but I prefer the first reason. Picking through the little gold mine they hauled out a solid oak pedestal dining room table for me.

Tip:  Take a good look at whatever item you want to refurbish/repurpose. Often some pieces are missing or something doesn’t run smoothly. If that        happens to be the case, you should be able to get a better deal if it’s priced a little too high. Keep in mind what the cost will be to replace any missing pieces or what it’ll take to make the piece work properly. (Such as drawers, table leaves, etc.) Plus of course whatever is needed to refinish/repurpose, such as sand paper, furniture stripper, paint or stain, glue, drawer pulls, well you get the idea. If you don’t have these things on hand, it can add up. I have made this mistake and overpaid for an item(s), just because I was so excited and terrified someone else would buy it.

With this piece in particular, all the bolts were missing to attach the table top to the pedestal and the leaf didn’t fold in/out properly, gouging the top of the table. It also only had two chairs. Hello savings!!! I ended up paying $30 which I think was a decent price. Thanks to my dad’s negotiation skills, since I wasn’t there.

Like other projects that I have, this didn’t get my much needed attention for quite sometime. Within a short amount of time getting this table, my life got turned upside down. My boyfriend (now husband) was getting transferred for his job. We knew it was going to happen, it just kinda came faster then we thought. So with a great leap of faith, I sold my place and moved in with him for a short while, before we packed up and moved. After the move we set up the table and well, I just placed a table cloth over it to hide the worn, gouged table top and kinda forgot about it.

Ok, so let’s get to the good stuff. When summer finally came and good weather was on my side, it was time to refinish this beast of a piece. I don’t have a workshop at our current home so I have to do all my dirty work outside. That gives me a very small window to get things complete, unless I want to freeze my fingers off. The steps you do to prep a piece to refinish all depends on what you are wanting to do with it and what product you are using. For myself I love to use Fusion Mineral Paint and Stains. It’s beautiful to work with and major plus that the paint virtually has no smell and no (VOC), perfect for painting indoors. If you are interested in more info about the product I have linked their site here.

Items needed:

  1. –   TSP (to clean and remove grease, oil, etc.)
  2. –   small bucket and water (to mix TSP)
  3. –   palm sander
  4. –   sand paper ranging from 40-220 grit (300 or 400 grit is great to use for a light sand in-between coats of paint)
  5. –   stainable wood filler
  6. –   small putty knife (to help apply wood filler) *optional
  7. –   Fusion Mineral Paint -Coal Black
  8. –   Fusion Ultra Grip *only if you are using Fusion products
  9. –   Fusion Stain & Finishing Oil -Cappuccino
  10. –   synthetic paint brush
  11. –   pre-stain wood conditioner *optional (I used Minwax)
  12. –   lint free rags 
  13. –   paint sheet

*Do keep in mind you can use your preferred paint and or stain for you project. Just make sure to follow the instructions on the container to get the best results. Some paints may require a sealant and or wax to finish and make it durable.

Before I started prepping to paint, I went out and picked up the bolts needed to mount the table top to the pedestal. Also I looked to see why the table top was being gouged by the leaf. The previous owner must have lost a bold and replaced it with one that was too long and it was hitting when the leaf was folded in and out. Simple fix, all that was needed was a shorter bolt.  


Start by cleaning all the areas that will be painting, by mixing the tsp in a bucket with some warm water. *Follow the instructions on the container. The type I used is one that does not need to rinsed off. Personally I prefer using this type as it’s one less step. Fusion Mineral Paint does sell a no rinse tsp, but I had another brand on hand so I’m using that up.

After the cleaned wood had dried, use a 220 grit sandpaper to rough up all the areas that are going to be painted. This will give the paint something to adhere to so it won’t scrape off. 220 grit is fine enough that it won’t leave scratch marks on the wood, making it smooth to paint. For this project that would be everything excluding the table top. Once roughed up thoroughly wiping everything down to remove any dust with a dry lint free rag. 

*Prep will change to the type of surface you are painting, so if you haven’t done it before a little research will save many aches and pains.

Now comes the biggest job, to sand down the table top so it could be re-stained. Using the palm sander I started with a very course 40 grit sand paper to remove the old stain and smooth out the scratches and gouges. With sanding you want to slowly and evenly go over the whole table top following the grain of the wood. Then on to a lighter grit of sand paper using 80 grit, 120 grit and 220 grit. Doing the exact same process that was done with the 40 grit, so that a smooth even look was achieved. 

I ended up having to use a little bit of wood filler in the area the table leaf had damaged. It had left to deep of marks to sand out. Because I was staining the table top, I made sure to use a stainable wood filler. I usually use a putty knife to apply the wood filler so that it’s easier to be flush with the table top which means less sanding. If you don’t have one, that is ok, you can use your finger to apply and smooth. Once the wood filler is dry (check instructions on container for drying time) take a piece of 220 grit sand paper and lightly go over it to sand any bumps out, making it flush with the rest of the table top. Once the sanding was complete I wiped down with a dry lint free rag.

Setting the table top aside and moved on to painting. Now the air quality outside in our area was awful due to large wildfires throughout British Columbia, so I moved in doors. Which I can do with Fusion Mineral Paint as it has zero VOC and has virtually no smell. Our house is a true 70s home that sections off each room, leaving very little space to spread out and paint. So I took over our dining area/kitchen space, my poor husband Tony had to step around me a few times. I think though he was excited to see me giddy and updating this 90s piece that he really didn’t mind.

For the chairs, I did paint the spokes on the backs with a product from Fusion called Ultra Grip. *This is a product to use with Fusion Mineral Paint if you have a surface that makes paint hard to adhere too. It might have not been necessary, but I wasn’t able to do a very good job roughing that area up with sandpaper because of all the little bumps and grooves. I thought I’d rather be safe than sorry. After the Ultra Grip dried it was painting time! For this project I chose Fusion Coal Black as it gives it more of an industrial vibe. 

I like to pour a little bit of paint in a small container to work with as I tend to be extremely accident prone and would prefer not to nock over a full container. Obviously this is by no means necessary, just a little tip for others that have the same skill set as me. With a synthetic brush (I use one from Fusion) dip into the paint to get a decent coating, wiping off just a touch, do want it to be to heavily coated or things get messy. Then just start painting, I don’t worry to much about getting perfect coverage on the first coat as I follow up with a second coat to give it more durability. Some paints my require three coats, but with Fusion Coal Black this wasn’t necessary. 

Once both chairs had its first coat, I moved on to paint the pedestal and around the table top’s lower section. With this product it’s suggested to leave 24 hours between coats, so that is what I did. For an extremely smooth, beautiful finish lightly use a 300-400 grit sand paper between coats, followed by wiping down with a lint free cloth. Our hardware store didn’t have any in stock so I had to forgo this step. Once the second coat was applied, it got set aside for another 24 hours to dry. 

Now for my favourite part, staining the table top. *Please note that this should be done in a well ventilated area. I prepped by attached the table top to the pedestal and folded out the table leaves and giving it a quick wipe down with a clean dry cloth. This next step is not necessary for staining products, but because of using some wood filler and the table had curved edges, I opted to use a Minwax pre-stain wood conditioner. Wood filler and edges soak up stain differently than the top surface and a wood conditioner will help give a better even stained finish. I applied the conditioner with a lint free rag as evenly as possible across the whole table top and edges, waiting 15 minutes before wiping off with clean lint free rag. *Follow the instructions on the container for whatever brand of wood conditioner you use. 

With this specific brand you must apply the stain within two hours of wiping off the conditioner. The stain I chose to use is Fusion’s Stain and Finishing Oil in cappuccino. Applying an even coat with a lint free rag, you can use a brush if you prefer follow the grain of the wood. Let it sit for 15 minutes for the oil to penetrate the wood and then remove the excess by wiping in the direction of the wood grain with a lint free rag. I did do a second coat to add a little durability and intensify the colour a bit more, but it’s not necessary if you like the colour as is. All that’s left is to let it dry.

With the product it does take 21 days to fully cure, so we avoided using it for a couple weeks. Of course I got anxious and used it before 21 days, but it was very light use. Once cured this paint is hearty and extremely durable, which is one of the many, many reasons I love it.

I absolutely love this dining room set now. At first I thought it would be fun to redo and sell, but there is no way you can pry this piece out of my hands. It’s not perfect by any means as I am always learning and trying to improve my painting technique, but only I will ever know what isn’t exactly perfect. Unless someone takes a magnifying glass to it and no sane person is going to do that. Well let’s hope not. So when you are tackling a project you feel a little intimidated by, just go for it. Ask the questions you need to, the DIY world is full of extremely supportive people. Just think when that intimidating project is done, you might smile just a touch, bust your finest dance moves or full on beam with pride and that feeling continues every time you walk past it.

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