Painting your Dining Room Table

Painted table. Polycrylic finish
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My wife wanted a new dining room table. Should I build a new table or re-finish one I already had? That was the question I needed to answer. The former would be a challenge and take more time. I decided to do the latter since I already had a table. This post will be about painting your dining room table to give it a new life.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Got a Free Kitchen Table

I didn’t take a photo of the original table but this one is pretty close.

The table I re-finished didn’t start out as a dining room table, at least for me it didn’t. For me, it was a work table for the garage. When I first moved to Oregon, we brought an IKEA kitchen table we’ve had for years with us. It was a simple black table, it expanded when needed and doubled as a homework/craft table. The table leaves could even be stored inside it. It was practical and served us well but we wanted a change.

I ended up with the table that is the subject of this post because my wife (always looking for stuff for me to do) spotted a free table on Buy Nothing and knew I wanted a work surface for the garage.

This Kitchen Table Took a Beating

The dining room table started out as a work table in the garage. By the time I decided to give this old dining room table a new life by painting it, it was a mess. It had blobs of paint that had spilled on it, scratches, and screw holes from where my miter saw was attached. I had given this dining room table a ton of abuse.

The first step in its rehab was to fill all the holes and gouges. I got out my wood filler and filled in all the holes. Once dry, I powered up my random orbit sander and went to town, getting off all the old paint. Starting with an 80 grit to get off all the paint, I worked up to a 220. The finished surface felt really smooth.

First Setback – Staining the Table

I primed the legs with primer and then painted them with Benjamin Moore Advance in a bright white color. This paint is great if you have kids because it is likely that the legs will take a beating. This paint is hard and durable.

Other projects where I have used this paint: cabinet makeover

Weathered Gray tabletop
Weathered Gray Tabletop – Stain didn’t take well.

I stained the top of the table with Weathered Gray. When I went to add the first layer of polyurethane, I was disappointed. There was a pattern on the table. You can see it in the image above. Apparently, some oil or something had soaked into the wood, and those areas did not take up the stain well. After this setback, I was pretty close to getting rid of the table but decided to try something else.

(other projects where I used Weathered Gray)

Try Something Else – Paint the Kitchen Table

Deciding to give it one last shot, I sanded the table down again to remove the polyurethane layer. Now I was going to paint this dining room table. I used the Benjamin Moore Advance paint on the tabletop. The shade I used was “White Water,” and has a silver tint. My application involved three coats, allowing at least 16 hours of dry time between each.

Polycrylic Application – Second Setback

I think I added about 9 layers of Polycrylic and discovered I hate working with Polycrylic. It dries really fast, and no matter how careful I was, I was not happy with the finish. I decided to try finishing with Minwax Polycrylic spay (from a can). The finish looked more even, but no matter how closely I followed the can’s instructions, I kept getting random bubbles. Now I was truly ready to burn this table.

We Have a Winner! Wet Sand the Polycrylic

Then I discovered wet sanding. I made a last-ditch internet search. There were several posts about people that wet sanded their projects with a Polycrylic finish. So I decided why not give this thing one last try. I did dry sand initially with 400 grit paper using a sanding block and a gentle circular motion. It’s best to soak the wet/dry sandpaper overnight in water. If you do this it doesn’t continue to soak up water when you are sanding. If you can’t do that then at least soak for 15 minutes.

With wet sanding, you use a linear motion and spraying a mist of water as you go. Use a sanding block. I started with a 600 grit, then 800, 1000, 1200, and finally 1500. I was really impressed with the final product. The tabletop was now smooth like glass, and the dining table was finally ready to be used.

We gave our old IKEA table to a family on Buy Nothing, keeping it out of the landfill. We have our new table in the dining room.

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