Refinishing Wood Furniture with Stain and Chalk Paint

I think 2017 is the year for makeovers for us! First, our master bathroom, second, our guest bathroom, third, these coffee tables! We haven’t had much success refinishing wood furniture over the past year, but I’m happy to report that this time was a success! It took a bit of elbow grease, but as you can see these coffee tables were in desperate need of a little lightening up:

DIY Coffee Table Before

These were hand-me-downs from my parents that kinda needed a facelift. I was Pinterest-ing awhile back and found an AWESOME project from Nifty Thrifty Mama where she put a new wood top on an existing coffee table. It seemed like the perfect solution for our coffee tables since I wanted to do a natural wood on the top and a clean white chalk paint on the bottom.

EXCEPT, we went to Home Depot to buy some oak wood, and it cost over $150!! Um, no thank you. I could buy new coffee tables for that much. And these aren’t even the nicest tables to begin with!

I conferred with my DIY Sage, AKA my mom, and she said the tables actually had a wood veneer underneath the paint, so we could strip it off and stain the wood. Hmmm… ????


Oh my gaaawwwwsshhhhhh I hate stripping paint, but it’s a necessary evil when refinishing wood. We tried stripping a dresser last summer and it was so annoying (not all DIY projects are bliss, right??). We quit and just painted over the whole thing. Here’s what worked this time: I dumped stripping solution directly onto the entire surface and pushed it around. Literally saturated it. Heck, made it pool on the surface. If it looked dry, it wasn’t coming off!

After letting it sit for about 15 minutes I scraped off the paint with a plastic scraper, and ta daaaaa!

Farmhouse Coffee Table - Table Stripped


So the paint was off, but see how the surface still looked blotchy? That’s where sanding came in. My strong, powerful, determined husband manually sanded the top with 80 grit sandpaper. Afterward, we went out and bought a palm sander. ????

DIY Coffee Table - Sanded Table

After the 80 grit sandpaper, we smoothed out the surface with 220 grit.


Now, this color was a bit light and we wanted a nice rich wood color. We looked through our options at Home Depot and decided on the Minwax oil-based stain “Dark Walnut”.

DIY Coffee Table - Stain Color

We applied the stain with a foam brush, let it sit for 10 minutes, then wiped off the excess with an old rag.

DIY Coffee Table - Staining

Sealing the Finish

Since we stripped the paint and heavily sanded it, the wood was really exposed. This table is going to get a lot of use, so we needed a protective coat on top. I didn’t want anything that would be too shiny, so I decided on a satin finish polyurethane coat.

Coffee Table Refinishing - Polyurethane

I was kind of nervous because I’d never applied polyurethane, but it was seriously easy peasy. I just brushed it on with a regular bristle brush and it was dry to the touch within minutes. I still had to let it set for about 24 hours before we could start using them.

Chalk Painting!!!

Like I mentioned earlier, I wanted to do a clean white paint on the legs of the table. We’ve had some trouble finding the perfect white paint color, so this time I did my research. Apparently, the most popular white paint color for cabinets is “White Dove” by Benjamin Moore, so I went to Home Depot and had them color match it in Behr Marquee (#1 paint, IMHO). Then, I made it into chalk paint using my mama’s handy-dandy chalk paint recipe…

Coffee Table Refinishing - DIY Chalk Paint

The process went like this: Sand, chalk paint, sand, chalk paint, sand. Chalk paint sands REALLY smoothly, which gives it a nice finish! It has a really soft look, almost like it’s glowing!

Refinishing Wood - Chalk Paint

Waxing the Chalk Paint

I’ve learned over the past year that there is a serious art to waxing chalk paint. It’s not like other wax, where you can just rub it on with an old t-shirt. No, don’t do that. Watch this nice-looking mom explain how to properly wax:

In summary…

  1. >Buy a waxing brush<
  2. Wipe off all surfaces
  3. Use the TINIEST amount of wax on the brush
  4. Work the wax into the furniture with the brush
  5. Once it’s worked in, use a lint-free cloth to buff it

Before & Afters

Because no blog post is complete without them! ????


Refinishing Wood - Before


Refinishing Wood - After


Don’t mind the fall decor!

Refinishing Wood - Before


Refinishing wood - After

Final Thoughts on Refinishing Wood…

I am SO happy with how our coffee tables turned out! This experience refinishing wood has given me confidence to do some other pieces in our house. Actually, we have three more pieces of furniture in our living room we’d like to chalk paint. We better get busy!

10 thoughts on “Refinishing Wood Furniture with Stain and Chalk Paint”

  1. Pingback: How to Make a Blanket Ladder, DIY Tutorial, Hello Hayley

  2. How hard was it to cover the dark black with white? Did you do any kind of priming?

    1. We stripped all the black off and sanded it down to bare wood beforehand! That part was a lot of work.

    1. Hi Dawna – Thanks for stopping by! I know some people prefer Annie Sloan; however, it’s very expensive (comparatively) and is hard to find in some areas. For me, the closest location to buy it is 30+ minutes away and I would have had to buy at least $60 worth of paint just for this project. Making my own chalk paint is a great cost-effective option for many readers. However, if you have the budget for Annie Sloan and it’s easy to find, then go for it! ????

  3. What grit of sandpaper did you use on the bottom half in between coats of chalk paint? These look amazing!!

    1. Thanks so much, Joleen!! I think I used 120 or 220 grit. It only needs a super light sanding because chalk paint sands SO easily!! It’s just to smooth it out a bit ????. Hope this helps!!

  4. Pingback: Essential Steps When Painting Furniture | Rise and Renovate

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *