Monday, February 7, 2011

Refinishing the Dining Table – Part 2

In my last post, I had suddenly decided that my dining table needed to be sanded down and re-stained RIGHT NOW (which seems to be how most of my projects come about).  The sanding went so well and I was so pleased with the results.  It was now time to pick the stain!

In case you missed it, here’s what the table looked like before:



I knew I wanted a much darker stain that would match my piano which is mahogany-ish.  At Lowe’s, I couldn’t find the exact stain I was looking for, but the closest I found was a two-in-one stain where the poly is already mixed in.  I really didn’t want to use a two-in-one, but I liked this color the best, so I went with it.  BIG MISTAKE!  This project was about to turn into one of the most frustrating/depressing projects I’ve ever done.

We took the table apart and moved it out to the garage so I could stain without destroying the carpet and fuming everyone out of the house.  SECOND MISTAKE!  It gets a little cold outside in December which makes the stain a little more difficult to apply.  Long, sad story short, it was so difficult to get the stain to go on without brush strokes showing and it would start to “seize up” so quickly that I had a horrible time getting the color to be even across the long expanse of the top.  If I had to do it again, I’d choose a simple stain that I could rub on and wipe off THEN do the poly last.  Even if I had to go with a slightly different color to do it.

I wanted it dark, so I had to do coat after coat – my heart breaking with each one.  I finally moved everything back into the house for the final coat.  That last coat was the easiest I did.  I so wish I had done that earlier. 


After the first coat where I dropped one of the freshly stained legs on the garage floor, getting little tiny pebbles into the stain, my husband figured out how to hang up the legs, so I could stain all sides at once and not worry about dropping them.



You can see a little bit of the wood pattern on the top here.  You can also see the horrible brush strokes.  With each coat I added, the beautiful pattern was disappearing.  So much sadness.


Finally, after (I think) 6 coats, the table was dark enough.  The brush strokes drove me nuts, but I wasn’t about to sand it down again – even if I thought it was possible without completely sanding through the veneer, so I decided to put it all back together again and just live with it for a while.

So, here’s what I’ve learned about staining:

1) NEVER use the two-in-one stain plus poly, the rub on wipe off stain is SO much easier to apply
1b) If you have to use the stain plus poly, get the best brushes you can
2) Don’t stain in a 40 degree garage – bring it inside if you have to
3) Breath (though maybe with a gas mask on).  Don’t panic.   If it’s not perfect, you can always cover it up with some cute decorations, right?

I’ve eaten at it now and I’ve even allowed guests to eat at it.  I’ve gotten some compliments on it and it doesn’t drive me as crazy as it did at first.  I think it’s a little more red than I wanted, so I might go grab another stain with poly in a slightly less red color and do one more coat over the top, but maybe I won’t.

Here it is now:


I found a paint color that matched the stain incredibly well and I painted the chairs.  My plan is to make white slip covers for them, so only the legs will be showing and there was no way I was going to sand those puppies down!  So far, I have about half of one slipcover done, but I’m liking the way it looks:



I’m linking up to:



  1. We can't see all the imperfections. It looks so shiny and new. Aren't we always hardest on ourselves?

  2. Your table is beautiful. Looks brand new! Hope you will stop by for my link up today. All the best!

  3. i agree with shannon! it looks brand new! wonderful job, diane!

  4. I love the table! It loooks awesome! I look forward to following your blog!

  5. I think it looks fabulous. And you're making slip covers?? Rock on, you.

  6. It looks wonderful.

    I completely agree with not using the 2n1. My bathroom cabinets look terrible after using this product, but for now they'll do 'til spring.


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