Painting a Kitchen Table
March 1, 2012
Hello everyone, I’m so excited to share today’s DIY project with you, it’s all about how to paint a kitchen table. Y’all know I’ve been painting furniture and cabinets for years, but this time I tackled the painting of a kitchen table. A kitchen table is the one surface that will get the most traffic of any piece of furniture in your home, and since it gets the most abuse it must be extremely durable.
To paint an old wood table with success you need three things working together – a primer that blocks stains and also sticks like super glue, an extremely durable paint with a hard finish that can withstand the banging of bowls and plates, and finally, a layer of protectant.
Let’s get started.
First, take a look at this pedestal table before the paint treatment – worn out oak coated with plenty of ick and yuck. Not pretty.
Where did I find this thing? I’ll give you four choices: A) thrift store B) thrift store C) thrift store D) Craigslist. If you guessed A, B or C you were right, oooh you’re smart! It was $45 for this solid wood classically shaped pedestal. My friend needed a table for her new home’s breakfast nook so I spotted this one and then decided to refinish it for her.
What you’ll need to paint your own wood kitchen table: orbital sander, medium grit sanding discs, foam roller, high quality angled paintbrush, medium grade sanding wedge, respirator, bonding/stain blocking primer, enamel based paint, cotton rags, clear paste wax.
First things first, you want to sand off any debris and some of the varnish and that’s why an orbital comes in very handy – use medium grit discs. Doing it by hand is possible, but better to let this tool do most of the work for you.
You don’t need to get rid of all the varnish, the primer (next step) will cling to the surface, varnish or not. You simply want it to be smoooooooooth. Use your hand and closed eyes as your guide, if you can run your hand over the surface and it feels smooth to the touch, you’re good.
Next, wipe it all down and start the priming phase. There are several kinds of primers on the market and a lot of them state they work on glossy surfaces. Not all of them are stain blockers though so carefully read the label. The one that has always worked best for me is Zinsser – I’ve used it for years – their Cover Stain sticks like super glue and blocks any wood stain from coming through, and also dries in an hour. It’s oil based, and not available in some States, but in my opinion it’s the best.
On most furniture the spray version is just fine, but on high traffic horizontal surfaces like tabletops, coffee tables, or bookshelves, I recommend the roll on/brush on formula – it’s thicker and more durable for that reason. Roll on two yes two coats for the tabletop (allowing to fully dry in between coats).
Roll on one coat to the remaining surfaces, wherever the roller can easily reach.
Follow up with the spray version to quickly fill in the crevices.
Allow the primer to fully dry for a full day. Next, use the medium grit sanding wedge to knock down any unevenness from the roller on the primed surface. (The orbital is a little too strong even with a fine grit disc for this phase and doing this by hand doesn’t take long.)
But be sure to wear one of these while you do it.
Once you’ve wiped down your primed tabletop, again run your hand over it to make sure you have a completely smooth surface. Now it’s time to paint! This is where it’s important to buy the right paint – over the past several months I’ve used enamel paints by Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams (Pro Classic) for furniture and both have really fantastic water based enamel alkyd formulas – they will give you a very hard finish like you’d get with oil based paints.
For this table, I’m using the Ben Moore Advance water based enamel alkyd in ‘Swiss Coffee’. Also a Purdy brush, they’re the best!
I prefer to work with paint in temperatures between 55 and 70 degrees, not too hot or too cold, I find it helps with the open time, giving you sufficient time to apply the paint without any drag. Apply two thin coats, just enough to cover, allowing to dry between coats (usually 24 hours). If you choose a dark colored paint (say black, navy, or dark gray) you’ll likely need three thin coats of the enamel paint.
Now here’s the hard part – it takes 3 to 5 days for the paint to cure so that it’s sufficiently hard, so after your final coat of paint do what it says and wait wait wait! This is a tabletop and you need it to be fully cured before you use it to prevent damage to all of your hard work.
After a few days it’s time to protect it and you have several options. I like the Brush on and Wipe On water based Varathane, and you can also use Minwax Polycrylic (I mention that method here) but for white painted furniture, I’m really loving waxes. They will give you a soft hand rubbed finish and won’t change the color of your white paint.
There are various paste waxes on the market, you want one that’s clear, here are three I commonly use but you can also use Fiddes & Sons, Minwax, and Hannant’s as well. With this table, I used the clear Briwax.
Apply a small amount and rub in circles with a clean soft cotton cloth for a thin even coating and allow it to dry for at least an hour. Buff (wipe repeatedly with clean cotton cloth in circles) to a shine, then repeat this step two more times over the course of a day. Make sure to buff it completely so your wax isn’t sticky, and you get a nice matte finish.
You want your surface to repel liquids and stains, so a few layers of wax will help do that. After you’ve buffed your final coat, your table is safe for use. Still I advise you to take it easy for the first few days using it, the paint and wax are mostly cured but will be much more solid after another week has passed.
Here’s the tabletop up close before and after the makeover. From dirty and spotty to fresh and fabulous!
So those are the steps to take to get a beautiful result that will last for years to come.
It looks so fantastic! Amazing what paint can do, right?
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Thank you so much!