How to Strip and Stain a dining room table

DIY instructions for Stripping and Staining a Dining Room Table

strip wood, stain wood, table, wood stain, wood stripper

This post contains amazon affiliate links. See full disclosure policy here.

This project has been a long time coming. I've been dreading it. I've been in denial that it needed to be done.  Over 4 years ago I bought a new-to-me kitchen table.  I loved the shape, but the original finish- not so much. So I painted it gray on top and white legs. See the full post here.

paint, table, gray table with white legs

I was 100% thrilled with how it turned out. But I have kids and the top got damaged. When I tried to touch up the paint, it peeled off.

I had to strategically place items to cover the damage- chargers and a centerpiece for my Thanksgiving table and place settings.

A few weeks ago, I looked up directions how to strip and refinish a table.  Then I took a few weeks to gather my courage.  (I already painted the table once so I knew what an ordeal it was.)

Once I realized how close Thanksgiving was, I HAD to get it done!  We are having guests and need to eat at that table.  So I purchased supplies and there was no turning back.

This table is a beast and it's chilly outside, so I did this project right in my dining room.  I put a plastic drop cloth down to protect the floor.

Supplies needed to Strip and Stain a Dining Room Table

Citristrip Stripping Gel

Citristrip is AWESOME!  It doesn't smell bad and works so well!

I poured the citristrip into a metal bucket.  Then using an inexpensive paint brush, I applied the stripper to the table.

Once the stripper was on the entire top of the table, I covered it with another plastic drop cloth.  Citristrip is really not that smelly.  I thought it smelled, well, citrusy.  But since I was doing it indoors, covering the table kept the fumes to a minimum and helped the stripping to act faster.  The directions say it can be left on up to 24 hours.  I left it on for about 10.

Using the plastic scraper, I scraped the paint off the table going in the direction of the grain.  It was really cool to see the paint come off in big strips!  I kept a box near by to throw the strips of paint in.
I didn't apply the stripper thick enough in some spots, so I had to reapply.

After I scraped it with the plastic scraper, I went back and scraped off bits of paint with a metal putty knife, wire brushes and odorless mineral spirits.

There was a little bit of a shiny finish still left of the table so I applied more citristrip and scraped the top of the table with a wider putter knife.

Then I went back over the table with the putty knife, a wire brush and a rag dipped in mineral spirits
over and over again until there was no more rogue pieces of paint anywhere.

I gave the table another wipe down with mineral spirits and a rag.  Since some of the stripper, a lot of the old paint and some mineral spirits dripped onto the plastic drop cloth, I threw it out.  Then I laid down a fresh drop cloth and got to work staining.

gray stain, stain table

I gave the table a coat of Minwax Classic Gray stain.  To apply, I used a sponge brush.  I brushed on the stain in long strokes with the grain of the table.  I let it sit for a few minutes, then wiped the excess off with a rag.  I waited about 8 hours then repeated the process.

You can't tell in this photo, but the gray stain was a little blue.  I wasn't very happy with it all.

Out in my supplies I found some dark walnut stain.  So I went over the gray stain with it, using the same brush on, wipe off method as above.  This deepened the stain color.  The gray gave it dimension and made it look weathered.  Just the look I was going for!

After waiting another 8 hours for the stain to dry, I gave it a top coat of Polycrylic Protective Finish in matte, following the directions on the can.  After about 2 hours, I lightly sanded with 220 grit sand paper and gave it another coat.  Then waited 2 more hours, sanded and gave it a 3rd coat.

In between coats I stored my paint brush in a baggie so I didn't have to keep washing it out each time.

The directions say the table is dry to the touch after a few hours and safe to use normally after 24.  I gave it 36 just to be safe.

I am SO happy with the way it turned out!

I love the layered, weathered color and the matte finish top coat is beautiful!

Our table was out of commission for almost a week, because of all of the dry time.  I almost quit and burned the table to the ground. But now I'm glad I persevered!  :)

I suppose I'm going to have to let my kids eat at the table again sometime.  I'll probably cover it with a table cloth for a little while longer to protect the finish.

I am so happy with the way it turned out! It was worth how long it took to get done!


Supplies used: