Dining room table makeover

Back when we found our dining room table on Craigslist, we were just so excited to find an affordable pedestal table for our square dining room, we were willing to overlook some flaws.craigslist dining table

We were never fans of the table top, because of the grooves in it. They were just little valleys for crumbs to fall into.  The other thing we didn’t love about it was that it was 54″ {we had wanted at least 60″} and it was strangely orange…like Lindsay Lohan. The color wasn’t a big deal because we knew we could refinish it, but the size and grooviness {in this case, not a compliment} was something to be dealt with. In fact, it was so much an issue that I started searching for new dining room tables on Craigslist.

Then something serendipitous happened. I found a table with a 60″ wood top. Because it had an ugly metal base, it was listed at a mere $40. The top was the perfect size and grooveless-ness that we needed. So we decided to buy it! Then it sat in our garage all but forgotten for three months while we were busy with other things. Such is life.

At long last we decided to refinish both the new table top and the old table base to darker walnut color. After my previous table refinishing disaster mishap, involving the minwax polyshades, I was a bit leary. A friend had recommended I use General Finishes gel stain. She had done an oak desk in the java color and loved the results. I did some more research, and found tons of other bloggers raving about how easy it was to use.

Here’s what we used:

  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • Klean-Strip Liquid Sander Deglosser
  • Gloves {rubber or latex}
  • General Finishes gel stain {we used Antique Walnut}
  • General Finishes Arm R Seal top coat {we used semi-gloss, but satin is great also}
  • Cotton rags
  • Foam brush

general finishes gel stain and top coat

First Blake removed the pedestal from the table top and transported everything to the garage. The table top was attached to the pedestal base with a square piece of wood. That square piece screwed into both the pedestal and the top. He removed this from the old top, and secured it to the new top.

Removing pedestal from table top

Securing pedestal attachment to new table top

Next up, we sanded the table down with 220 grit sand paper. We used a pad sander for the table top, but we did the base by hand. Then we wiped it down with deglosser and let it dry. We then applied the first coat of gel stain by rubbing it into the wood with a rag. I couldn’t believe how smooth and smudge free this stain was. It went on like a liquidy shoe polish, we just had to rub it around for a thin, even coat.

general finishes gel stain

The first coat didn’t make much of an impact. We waited a full 24 hours before applying the second coat. To get the desired shade, we ended up doing 3 coats on the pedestal base, 4 coats on the top, then three coats of semigloss clear coat {waiting a full day between all coats}. I let it sit in the garage an additional three days after the final coat of sealant to off-gas. As a result, our table sat in our garage nearly two weeks. Because Blake was away on business most of this time, I ended up scrambling to do much of it myself while Noah napped. It was an easy project though!

staining the table pedestal

We applied the clear coat with a foam brush. I wanted it to be a little glossy so I could wipe it off fairly easily. However, if I were doing a dresser or other piece of furniture, I would definitely go with a satin clear coat instead of semigloss. Some blogs recommend sanding with a fine grit between top coats, but I skipped that step {interpret: I was too lazy}.

Here is the re-finished table:

general finishes gel stain antique walnut

general finishes gel stain antique walnut

DSC_0913And here is the before image, to save you from scrolling:

craigslist dining table

Not bad right? The new 60″ table top feels huge compared to the old 54″ one. No more grooves, and no more orangey glow. Now to finally get some artwork up and perhaps find some new chairs.