Look at almost any DIY blog and you'll find a post about transforming an old piece of furniture with chalk paint. Do you know why it's so popular? Because it's awesome! In a world full of waste, it feels so nice to find a way to modify an outdated piece of furniture, creating something new and beautiful. Chalk paint has a way of breathing new life into something old. I definitely gave my kitchen table new life! Read on to learn all the steps for this kitchen table makeover using chalk paint!
My Kitchen Table Makeover / Labor of Love
My in-laws got this pretty, oak kitchen table for my husband and me as a wedding gift almost 15 years ago. After two kids and everyday daily living, it was beat up and needed some love. I researched lots of potential options and quickly knew chalk paint would be part of the solution.
Get more ideas for furniture makeovers here.
As much as I loved the table, the color no longer matched anything in my home. Plus, the old stain was not holding up well any longer. Here is a close up image of the original finish.
My family was not thrilled with the process required to re-do this kitchen table and chairs. My house was in disarray for about a week during this chalk paint table makeover.
Fortunately, they are all used to my "diy projects" and go about their life while I do my thing. In the end, everyone is typically happy with the outcome.
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SUPPLIES For Kitchen Table Update:
- drop cloths
- Putty knife
- Plastic dish scrubbie
- Mineral Spirits
- Lint-free cloth
- Painter's tape
- Glad Press and Seal
- Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner
- Paint Brush (Purdy is my favorite paintbrush)
- Wood Stain in color of choice (If I were to do this over, I would select Minwax Dark Walnut)
- Paint for table and chair bottoms: Amy Howard Chalk Paint in Linen is what I used. This is rarely available on Amazon. Another chalk paint option is Annie Sloan Old White. OR, If you prefer to avoid chalk paint, consider Benjamin Moore Advance paint. This is a paint that was recommended to me by a local painter that insists it has amazing durability for cabinets (and kitchen tables). If you use this paint, you would NOT need a top coat over the painted portion of your table, ONLY the stained portion.
- Top Coat: A couple of options are Minwax Polycrylic or General Finishes High Performance Top Coat. Some have suggested the Polycrylic can yellow over time when applied over white paint. I have NOT had that issue, but it's something to consider. The General Finishes topcoat is something I've heard good things about, but have not personally tried.
- Drop Cloths
Steps for Kitchen table makeover:
If you will be staining the tabletop, you will need to remove the current stain from the table top. At the time of this post, I did not own a hand sander so opted to use Citristrip to remove the stain. It worked great.
1. Strip off the old stain:
- I stripped the stain from the table top as well as the seat portion of the chairs. I used Citristrip to assist with taking off the old stain. This stuff is fantastic.
Citristrip doing it's thing:
- A plastic (metal could damage your wood!) putty knife is a great tool to scrape off the goopy stain and residue, scraping with the grain. This was SO messy!
In retrospect, I should have done this entire project outside. But, know it can be done indoors, just be prepared to do a LOT of clean up. Also, make sure you open windows and create a well ventilated area and wear gloves.
- After you have scraped off everything you can with your plastic putty scraper, use a plastic dish scrubbie with water to wash the wood surface.
- Be forewarned, this entire process is tedious and time consuming! Then, let your wood surface dry completely. After it has dried, lightly sand with fine grit sandpaper to smooth out your surface. This will sand off any remaining Citristrip as well.
- Consider using mineral spirits on a lint-free cloth to assist with any further cleaning of the table.
Also note that an orbital sander would also work great to remove the stain, but at the time of writing this post, I did not have one.
2. The staining process:
- Wipe the surface well with a clean, dry cloth to get rid of all remaining debris from the sanding process. Next, I applied Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner prior to staining.
- Once you complete this step, you don't have a huge window of opportunity to complete the staining as this needs to be applied within two hours of application of the pre-stain wood conditioner.
Now, it's time for a confession. I panicked a bit during the staining process. I stained the chairs using my favorite staining method of tea and oxidized vinegar/steel wool.
RELATED: Learn how to make the tea stain!
But, soon after I completed the application on the chairs, I thought it looked uneven. So, I impulsively dove into the kitchen table top with a different method. I used a combination of different stains.
My Wood Stains:
I wish I could tell you exactly what I did. But, I couldn't duplicate it if I tried.
Although I do like how the stained portion of the kitchen table turned out, I definitely am not thrilled that it isn't exactly the same as the chairs. Plus, after the chairs had an opportunity to dry, they looked fantastic.
- If I were to completely do it over, I would have just used Minwax Dark Walnut stain on the chair seats and table top and called it a day!
The difference between the kitchen table top color and chair seat:
The table is a bit too blue-toned for my liking. I really wanted to like the Rustoleum wood stain in Driftwood, but it's just not for me. I get a lot of natural light in my kitchen so you can barely notice the difference in color unless you are looking for it.
BUT, I know it's there! It just hasn't made it to the top of my lists of priorities to re-do the table top again. It's a lot of work!
After allowing the stain to thoroughly dry, I was ready to complete the painting portion. Compared to the staining, this was a breeze! I chose Amy Howard One Step Paint in Linen.
- Before painting, I cleaned the base of the table and legs/back of the chair with soap and water. There were a few places with unidentifiable dried food that required sandpaper to remove...yuck!
- After it dried, I taped off around the chair spindles so my new stain wouldn't get ruined. I definitely didn't want to repeat that process! I also used Glad Press and Seal on the seat to avoid paint splatters.
3. Painting the table and chairs with chalk paint:
Prep before painting chair:
As per above, when painting the chairs, I used the Glad Press N Seal and painter's tape to cover the stained portion of the chairs. Although this is tedious, it's worth the effort to ensure your hard word isn't in vain.
I did not use primer, BUT I have completed many paint projects since this particular project. Since I was painting over wood stain with white paint, I would suggest using 1-2 coats of primer.
To make it easier, you could try primer spray which would help avoid brush strokes. There was no bleed through with my white paint, but I have since had experienced that with other furniture.
- I painted two light coats of the Amy Howard One Step paint in Linen (chalk paint) on the chairs (minus the seats) as well as the base of the pedestal table, allowing time to dry between coats.
- A final (third) touch up coat in only the places that needed it and to ensure good coverage in all the nooks and crannies.
Enough emphasis cannot be put on the effort for this project. I had supplies absolutely everywhere in my kitchen during this project. It was worth it, but my family wasn't very happy with me for a week or so!
Related: Best Paint Brushes for Chalk Paint
What a mess!
4. Seal the table
For the final step, I applied three coats of Minwax Polycrylic protective finish in matte, allowing drying time between coats. The smell is very strong, so as I stated earlier, only complete in a well ventilated space.
My recommendations would be to use a good quality synthetic brush (best for applying the polycrylic) and follow directions on the can for best results. Be sure NOT to shake the can as it can cause bubbles in the finish. Instead, stir prior to use.
The polycrylic was used over the entire table and chairs, both the painted and stained portions.
I didn't allow my family to use the table for a couple days after it was finished sealers need to fully cure. It has been fairly durable considering all of the high traffic use it gets. It's not perfect, but good enough;)
Kitchen Table Before:
Chalk Paint Farmhouse Table After:
A whole new look!
Options to seal chalk paint:
- Polycrylic (what I used and I believe to be durable). Some have reported yellowing over time. Be aware of this if using white chalk paint.
- Chalk Paint wax. I find wax to NOT be terribly durable. I would personally not recommend it for the intense wear and tear a kitchen table will get daily.
- General Finishes High Performance Water Based Top Coat. (Polyurethane)
Another Fresh New Look: Dining Room Table Makeover
Is chalk paint durable for kitchen tables?
Yes. The key is to ensure you have a good and durable seal over the chalk paint. I used polycrylic to seal my table and have been pleased with the durability.
Should you paint OR stain your table?
This is a complete preference. Even though it was a lot more work, I loved the look of a stained table top and stained chair seats. If you are trying to do this more quickly, painting the entire table and chairs might be a good alternative to what I did but would still give you a nice makeover.
Are there other options to using chalk paint?
Yes. Another great option is using Benjamin Moore Advanced paint. I used this when painting some of my basement cabinets and it is wonderful.
- The negative to this paint is it takes at least 24 hours drying time between coats. I would also wait several days after you are finished prior to regular use.
- The positive is that you do NOT need to seal this type of paint.
- IF you decide to go this route, you will need to use a great primer before applying Benjamin Moore Advance. I recommend INSL-X STIX Waterborne bonding primer.
What do you think? This is certainly not a project for the faint of heart.
It takes a LOT of time and hard work. But, if you love the bones of your kitchen table or another piece of furniture and are motivated to make a change, this might be for you.
If you don't have the time to complete the staining process, perhaps you could use chalk paint on the entire piece.
I truly am so glad I did this. I love the change it has made in my kitchen and it's so special to keep the gift that my husband's parents gave to us so many years ago.
Some time soon, I'll post a full before and after of my kitchen. It is so different from when we first moved in 11 years ago.
An Unfortunate mishap that happened after my DIY Table Makeover:
After the ENTIRE project was complete and I was finished with nearly all of the cleanup, I stacked all of my wood stains (a bit precariously) in my arms to carry to my basement.
The stack toppled onto the carpet and left this:
My husband suggested I just stain the rest of the carpet to match. Instead, we just replaced it. It was time anyway (11 year old carpet +2 kids +60 pound dog).
Please leave a comment below and tell me about your kitchen table transformation.
Have you painted and/or stained your kitchen table? If so, I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Hopefully you didn't spill the stain on your carpet;-)
Want to see how the table is holding up two years later?
Read Kitchen Table Makeover // How It's Holding Up 2 Years Later!
If you love DIY Furniture Makeovers, take a look at some of my other projects!
- Piano Makeover with Chalk Paint
- Painting Cabinets without Priming: The Ultimate Amateur's Guide
- Painted Furniture: A Before and After
Want to remember this? Pin it to your favorite Pinterest board as a reminder!
So the citristrip basically replaces tons of sanding? And did you only use it on the parts I planned to stain but not on the parts you planned to paint? Just got a steal on and set like this and am so excited but nervous to start it lol!
[email protected] says
Jenna- Yes, Citristrip was used to help me avoid lots of sanding. Some sanding will still be required. But, this stuff is fantastic. I only used Citristrip where I was going to be staining. It wasn't necessary on the parts I painted. It is a BIG project, but the results are worth it. Best of luck to you!
Brenda P. Collette says
Just to be clear, on the chair seat you used only your DIY Tea stain?? I adore how the seats turn out.. the transparency of the stain bring out the richness of the grain.. I have a set to do as well .. You are very inspiring . Thank you for sharing.
[email protected] says
Brenda, that is correct. I absolutely love the color of the seats and wished the table top were the same. BUT, the tea stain is somewhat unpredictable. If I were to do the table top over, I'd do dark walnut or perhaps special walnut stain color (by Minwax). Best of luck with your project!