If you’ve been following along on the blog, you know I’ve been updating my Living Room. So far, I’ve trimmed out all four windows, built an overmantel, added craftsman style trim to my french doors and painted them, and installed some fireplace built-ins with Ikea bookcases.
This week I began refinishing my furniture. I have dark flooring, couches and tables in this space, so I’m working hard to brighten things up. This Refinished Coffee Table turned out so beautiful! It only took about 2 1/2 days to complete and that’s mostly because of dry time.
Here is the process I used…
REMOVE THE OLD FINISH
Originally I planned to buy some pine boards and plank the table top. It had a lot of scratches and chips, so I figured it was beyond refinishing. I also knew that this table was mostly made from MDF, but I wasn’t sure what the top was actually made of. I took a chance and decided to strip the finish. If I knew this table was a solid wood, I would have sanded the finish off. But, I had a hunch that it was a thin veneer and I was right.
The first step was to apply CitriStrip all over the top and edges of the table. I used this product to refinish my staircase and it works well. It has an orange smell, but it’s not too bad. In my experience, it works much better on horizontal flat surfaces. You want to let it sit for a while, but not so long that it dries. I left it on the table for about 25 minutes and then I used a plastic scraper to push it off the table into a cardboard box.
I added a second coat and repeated the same process.
This is what it looked like while I was removing the second coat. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the veneer was under all that dark brown varnish!
I desired a light wood top on this table and the finish still had a lot of red stain on it even though the varnish was removed. So I did some research to see if there was a way to lighten wood and found out that you can bleach it. There are three ways to bleach wood and you can read about it here. I just wanted to remove the stain color from my wood top. So I filled a glass jar with regular Clorox bleach, painted it on, and let it dry.
Here is what it looked like. Next, I neutralized the bleach with 50% water and 50% vinegar and wiped it off. Then I wiped the whole surface down with water again and dried it with a towel. I waited until the next day and gave it a very light sanding with 220 grit sandpaper. There is a risk with wood veneer that you can sand through it, so you want to keep the sanding to a minimum.
PAINT THE BASE
I flipped the table over and gave it a light sanding to rough up the surface. Then I wiped the whole base down with mineral spirits to remove any dirt or grease.
I know that most chalk paints say that you don’t have to prime, but I always do. Especially with a dark stain like this one. When you put a lot of time and effort into a project, you just want to know that the finish is durable and you aren’t going to have the old finish bleed through. I covered the base with two coats of Zinsser Bulls Eye Primer.
Then I painted two coats of Rust-Oleum Chalked in Linen White. I lightly sanded in between coats with a 220 grit sand paper and wiped it down.
I have tried many different types of top coats over the years. To be honest, my favorite is General Finishes. I put this finish on my son’s desktop and it has held up really well. However, I had a half can of Valspar’s Sealing Wax (Clear Satin Acrylic) left over from another project, so I decided to use it up.
Working in small sections, I painted the wax on with a nylon brush. Then I waited about two minutes and wiped it off with a folded towel. It’s important to use a high quality lint free shop towel for this, so you don’t get lint in your wax. You also want to work quickly, before the wax sets up.
I love the way the wax turned out on this piece. Especially the top. It has no color, minimal sheen and only darkened the wood grain slightly. Because this is a highly used piece of furniture, I will add one more coat of wax to the top for extra protection. The cure time on the wax is about a month, so you want to be especially careful during that time.
And one image to pin…
This project turned out much easier than I had anticipated. I guess I’ve learned over the years that some projects turn out to be a lot more work than you expect. This was not one of them and I’m looking forward to moving on to my other Living Room furniture.
Let me know what you thought of my Refinished Coffee Table and if you plan to refinish any of your own furniture. Happy painting!