Tuesday, September 15, 2009

DIY: strip and stain some tables!

Okay so I REALLY wanted a coffee and end table to go in my new apartment in Chicago, the only problem was that I wasn't too excited about spending around $170 on fake particle board tables that needed assembly and would fall apart SUPER quick.  So, my solution?  Craigslist.  The only problem with this was that I wanted them to be a darker wood an everything that I continued to find were too light.  I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I purchased 2 solid wood tables (manufactured by Broyhill) from a really sweet lady in Lexington for $90 total.

As you can see, they are great tables, only I hate the really light "blonde" look of them - I wanted something more "espresso".  So, I had a brief brain lapse and decided, "HEY!  I should just refinish them!"  Ay yi yi, what a job!  BUT, I love the way they turned out and would consider doing it again!  So here's the skinny:  you need A LOT of time and patience, as well as the following items:
A good staining brush; a stain picked out in your shade; a paint can opener; a stir stick (not pictured) to stir your stain; a drop-cloth; gloves (I recommend ones specifically for stripping as the strip will eat away at other gloves); A LOT of fine steel wool (I went through 3 bags); a stripping solution of some kind (I used Minwax stripping and loved it); sand paper; and mineral spirits (not pictured) to clean your brush.

Okay, first things first, you have to strip the old stain off the tables.  This was quite the job!  The only 2 things not pictured here that you need are gloves (get ones specifically for stripping) and a metal bowl to pour the refinisher in (it will eat away at plastic -- YIKES!).  So how do you strip off stain?  Put on your gloves and pour some refinisher in a metal bowl.  Dip a piece of steel wool into the refinisher and wring it out.  With a lot of elbow grease, work the steel wool in a circular motion on your surface and watch as the stain begins to lift (it's stubborn and will take some time and A LOT of strength). 
You can see inside the middle of the table where the stain has been removed, and then the outer perimeter where I have not yet stripped.

Once the entire stain has been seemingly removed, I used sand paper to really try and sand down the table back to the original wood.

Okay, next up, it's time to start staining!  I purchased a stain by minwax that already had polyurethane in it.  If I were to do this project again, I would seriously consider buying stain without it and then putting a polyurethane coat on at the end.  I felt like the stain with the poly in it didn't go on as smooth as ones I've seen without it and as a result, it's not as even of a stain job as I would like.  Here's what you need to stain:

Again, you can see my stain says "PolyShades" because it came with the polyurethane in it.  So what you'll need is a brush, a can opener, your stain, a stirring stick and a drop cloth.  NOTE ABOUT THE STAIN: you really control the shade - I wanted it to be darker so I bought a darker stain (Antique Walnut) although it took me 6 COATS of stain to get it anywhere near where I wanted it.  So don't be afraid of it being too dark - you'll have complete control over that based on how many coats you want to put on. 
I believe this table is the result of 1-2 coats of stain.  You have to wait 4-6 hours for your stain to dry before you can put a new coat on.  After it has dried for 6 hours, you take a steel wool pad and rub it along the entire surface.  You proceed to wipe down the surface to remove any dust and debris before you add your next coat.  You must do this in between every coat of stain that you apply.
For contrast purposes you can see the difference between 1 coat on the end table and nothing on the coffee table.
1 coat makes it onto the coffee table!
6 coats later....

Cost in the end?  Tables: $90; Knob for end table: $5; Supplies: (roughly) $45; TOTAL: $140 and WELL WORTH IT!  I can't wait for you to see them in the new apartment!

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  1. i am super impressed! good job :)

  2. :) Thanks! (Don't be impressed - you could definitely do it!) Can't wait to hang out with you on Sunday!!!

  3. wow kari! what a woman!! the tables look great
    miss you!

  4. Wow great job... Sandy and i never knew you were so good at stripping. Hidden talent? giggle.

  5. Kari! That is fabulous!! I love home improvement projects. I need a coffee table really bad, but DON'T want to spend so much money on them either. This sounds like a good solution!!

  6. Sorry I didn't comment sooner! These look awesome. Way better solution than particle board.

  7. Great tips! The tables turned out great!

    Thanks for sharing

  8. Great job!! I refinish furniture so I know how tough stripping and re staining can be! Great job and kudos to you for your patience! I just painted those exact tables for a client a couple of months ago! -shaunna :)

  9. Very Impressive! Thank you, for sharing you tips.


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