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How to Refinish a Table

Learning how to refinish a table was so much fun! My mom is the best furniture flipper I know, so she & I did this project together.  My mom and Mother-in-law actually found this table on the side of the road.  It looked pretty rough, with the finish chipping off all over, but my mom knew it was the perfect size for my breakfast nook! 

how to refinish a table

Part I – Strip & Prep the table

We used a few techniques in order to get the finish off of the table. 

Step 1: Sand

To start, I began sanding the tabletop with my palm sander and 220-grit sandpaper.  The finish was flaking off when I got the table; therefore, I knew I didn’t need to use a stronger grit.  I did not want to sand the legs or table base, as there was details in the wood we didn’t want to lose! I decided to disassemble the table and use stripper to remove the remaining finish.

how to refinish a table

Step 2: Oven Cleaner / CitriStrip

dining table

I applied oven cleaner to the legs and the table base.  We let this sit for 15-20 minutes and then using a putty knife we attempted to scraped off the finish.  This was a BIG fail for us!  I bought the oven cleaner at the Dollar Store.  I think if you are going to try this method use Easy-Off Oven Cleaner.  The Dollar Store over cleaner did not work, at all.  

Since we were already into it, we applied CitriStrip to the legs and base and removed the finish.  To clean off any excess finish or remover, I wiped down the table pieces with denatured alcohol.

Part II – Stain & Seal

With the finish fully removed and the table cleaned, we were ready for our stain!  Instead of using just one type of stain, we used 3! For all layers, be sure to follow the wood grain as you apply!

Step 1: Apply Weathered Oak

First, we applied stain number 1!  We used Weathered Oak Stain.  Using a rag, we applied the stain liberally and let it set for approximately 3-5 minutes.  Then we went back over the areas and wiped the excess stain with a clean rag. Allow to dry for 30 minutes.  

Step 2: Apply Whitewash


Whitewashing is both fun and stressful!  To create your whitewash, you mix white paint and water in a 50/50 ratio. Using a disposable foam brush, we applied the whitewash mixture onto the wood. We immediately wiped it off with a clean rag.  This works so much easier with two people.  I applied the whitewash while my mom wiped it. 

NOTE:  The white wash dries quickly, so work in small areas and it really is beneficial if you have 2 people to complete this part.  After you apply the Jacobean, the whitewash shines through, so you need to be very meticulous about this application.  

Step 3: Apply Jacobean

Finally, we applied Jacobean Stain on top!  We applied this using a disposable paint brush and immediately wiped it off with a clean rage. For this layer we again worked as a team! I applied with the disposable paint brush and my mom was right behind me wiping! Allow to dry for 12 hours to ensure the layers of stain are fully dry.

how to refinish a table

NOTE:  If you want your piece to be darker, you can leave the Jacobean on longer.  We wanted a lighter version which is why we wiped is off so quickly.  

Step 4: Apply Wax

Now for the top coat – wax! Using a rag and working in small areas,  I applied a layer of wax onto the table. Immediately after I finished applying the wax, I used a clean rag to buff the wax in a circular motion.  I allowed the wax to dry for 6 hours and then applied a second coat.  

how to refinish a table

NOTE:  The more you buff the more shine your piece will have.

Part II – Reassemble Table

Step 1: Reassemble

Using a wrench, I reassembled my table.  I started by attaching the legs to the base and then attached the base to the tabletop.


As I’m sure you all know, solid wood furniture is hard to find!  The decorative edge of the table was some sort of pressed wood that easily bent into a circle.  When we sanded it the paper that looked like wood came off and exposed the pressed wood.  We were worried about how this section might look but it turned out great! It took the stains /whitewashing really well and blended perfectly.

I couldn’t be happier with my little roadside table!  We are still on the hunt for chairs but in the meantime, we borrowed 2 spare chairs from our dining room table.  We have already been using the heck out of the table, it’s perfect for quick meals and crafts! Big thank you to my momma for all her help on this one, I absolutely love it!

table final

Liked learning How to Refinish a Table? Check out how we refinished Cane Chairs here

How to Refinish a Table Links

how to refinish a table

How to Refinish a Table

Prep Time 3 hours
Build Time 5 hours
Dry Time 1 day 12 hours


  • Palm Sander
  • Rags
  • Disposable Paint Brush
  • Foam Brush
  • Putty Knife
  • Wrench


  • 220 Grit Sandpaper
  • Oven cleaner / Citri Strip
  • Denatured Alcohol
  • Weathered Oak Stain
  • White Paint
  • Water
  • Jacobean Stain
  • Finishing Wax


Strip & Prep the table

  • Sand
  • Oven Cleaner / Citri Strip

Stain & Seal

  • Apply Weathered Oak
  • Paint on Whitewash
  • Apply Jacobean
  • Apply Wax

Reassemble Table

  • Reassemble
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