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How to Refinish a Dining Room Table

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Step one in the process of my dining room redo is complete!  My husband says it’s the biggest transformation I have made yet!  That’s a pretty big compliment for sure.  😊  For the whole plan on what I am doing in my dining room you can check it out here.  For now let’s get into how to refinish a dining room table!

How to Refinish a Table


*This post contains affiliate links.  For more details see my full disclosure.

Step 1 – Sanding

So you want to make sure you are in a well ventilated area because saw dust will be flying!  I wouldn’t recommend doing this in your house, I took my table into the garage.  Make sure you wear a mask and safety goggles.  You will need a sander and sanding pads in the grit of 80, 120 or 150, and 220.  Start with the 80 grit and sand away.  Always move in the direction of the grain or you will see what looks like scratches in the final product.  I started with the top then moved onto the base.

For the curved areas you have to do it by hand, it’s tough work I am not gonna lie!  I worked on the 7 spindles in the base every week night for a week.  I could only work for 45 minutes on it at a time because it was literally back breaking but in short bursts I was able to have all of them sanded with all the sandpaper by the weekend.  Once you have all the shiny finish off and hopefully down to bare wood you can move on to the 120/150 grit sandpaper and repeat with the whole table.  Then the 220 grit, this one gets it to be very smooth.  It’s amazing the difference in the feel from the 80 grit to the 220 grit!

Refinish Dining Room Table

Refinish Dining Room table

See how ugly the table was!  Nineties orange, not very becoming.  But she’s got good bones.

Step 2 – Staining

Once it’s sanded you need to clean it off.  I actually used my leaf blower and blew the table (and my garage floor) and got all the dust off, then I took a wet rag to it and wiped it down.  Let it dry and it’s time to stain.  You will want to wear latex or plastic gloves because stain can do a number on your manicure!  I used a foam brush and stained in the direction of the wood grain.  Leave the stain on for a few minutes, the longer you leave it on the darker the wood will get, then wipe it off.  If you don’t wipe it off it won’t dry right, it will be very sticky.  You will probably need to work in small sections if you have a large table.

Refinish Dining Room Table

Refinish Dining Room Table

Step 3 – Poly

You can either use polyurethane or polycrylic.  Polyurethane has a bit of a yellow tint to it so if you are staining a light color it may be best to use polycrylic.  This is what I did, but on the can it says you can’t use it on red mahogany stain…I don’t know why but it’s always best to check your products directions first. This was my first time using polycrylic and it was good but I think I like the urethane better.  The crylic is a little watery and I felt I needed to do more coats to get a smooth finish.

I used a foam brush to start then switched to a regular paint brush, I usually use foam when I use an oil based product like the stain and polyurethane but polycrylic is water based so it’s easy to clean up.  I did 3 coats on the base and 5 on the top, sanding lightly in between with 220 grit sandpaper.  Polycrylic also dries a lot faster so you can do more coats in a day than if you used polyurethane.  As always go in the direction of the wood grain.


Refinish Dining Room Table

Refinish Dining Room Table

I was trying to match the stain to our floors.  I think it’s pretty close.



Step 3 – Style the table

Yeah it’s done!  I let mine sit for a few days to fully harden, probably don’t need to do that but it made me feel better.  Then I styled the table for Thanksgiving.  Here is the finished product!

Refinish Dining Room Table

Refinish Dining Room Table


Now I could have painted the table, painted the base and stained the top….there are endless options.  I did not use paint because my kitchen table has a painted base with a stained top, my dining room chairs will be painted and my buffet will be painted.  With so many painted pieces I really wanted to have something that wasn’t painted.  And I can’t wait to finish the room.  Again, to see the whole plan you can find it here and for some awesome farmhouse dining room decor I did a post on that as well.  I hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving!


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