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Kitchen Table Makeover Using Chalk Paint and Wood Stain

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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  In a world full of waste, it feels so nice to find a way to modify an outdated piece of furniture, creating something new and beautiful.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

Before picture of orange oak table and after picture showing linen paint and wood stain makeover

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 and paint projects 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.

Old oak table prior to re-staining

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.

Oak kitchen table with leaves just prior to painting

TRY THIS OUTDOOR DIY: How to Hang Outdoor String Lights

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SUPPLIES For Kitchen Table Update:

  • Citristrip
  • 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 kitchen 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 an electric 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:

Citristrip taking stain off of oak chair
  • 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.

Read here for more information about removing chalk paint and other types of paints and stains.

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:

Using wood stain to update on old table

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.

DIY tea and steel wool wood stain on chair seat, white chalk paint on rest of chair
  • 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:

brown and grey wood stain on table top compared to vinegar and tea stain on 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:

There is no need to remove old paint for the chalk painting portion of this diy project. The key to painting over old paint, including painting over chalk paint, is to ensure you have a clean, smooth finish before you begin. 

The finished product will only be as good as the surface you are painting over.

So the first thing to do prior to painting is to clean the areas you will be painting.

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.

If you are painting over wood stain with white paint, I would suggest using 1-2 coats of primer. The use of primer will help you avoid bleed through from tannins into your new paint finish.

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.

Glad press and Seal to keep paint off of newly stained chair seat.
  • 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 and table legs, 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

Painting with a brush can be tedious, so using a paint sprayer is certainly something to consider.

What a mess!

Mess during DIY kitchen table makeover process

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.  

There are many other ways to seal chalk paint furniture including polyurethane. and wax. Read this article to determine what type of top coat will work best to seal your chalk paint project.

Chalk Paint Table

With a little bit of effort and a little paint, a dining set can be transformed into what looks like a new table.

The best thing is you can achieve a beautiful finish and create an entirely new look with paint (and stain).

Take a look at my chalk paint dining room table before and after.

Kitchen Table Before:

Orange oak table in breakfast nook

Chalk Paint Farmhouse Table After:

A whole new look!

Painted table 'after' picture with white chair bases, spindles and table base. Stained chair and table top.

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.
  • Polyurethane. General Finishes High Performance Water Based Top Coat is a good option.

Even the best chalk paint will need a good top coat to ensure the paint job will last a long time. Each type of sealant has its pros and cons.

For a farmhouse style or shabby chic look, you may also want to consider distressing your table. The distressed look is a good way to help make occasional paint chipping less noticeable. 

For a table getting heavy use, distressing is a good option to consider!

Another Fresh New Look: Dining Room Table Makeover

Is Chalk Paint Durable for Kitchen Tables?

Yes. The key to chalk paint durability on a kitchen table 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.

I have also found that Heirloom Traditions Paint is an excellent all-in-one paint option. I have used it on several recent projects and have been very happy with the results.

There are many different colors to choose from, even if white paint color isn’t for you.

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:

Wood stain spilled all over living room carpet after kitchen table makeover project.

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?

My kitchen table has held up very well since I first painted it. Read the full description below.

Kitchen Table Makeover // How It’s Holding Up 2 Years Later!

Does chalk paint hold up on kitchen table?

Chalk paint can provide a durable finish for a kitchen table with proper sealing. Polyurethane is the most durable finish for the top of the table due to water exposure.

How do you seal a chalk painted kitchen table?

There are several options to seal furniture projects. The most common are polyurethane, polycrylic, and furniture wax finish. Polyurethane is considered the most durable top coat for a furniture piece. Nearly all top coats come in matte finish, smooth or satin finish, as well as gloss and high gloss finish.

Can I paint my table with chalk paint?

Yes, you can paint an old table with chalk paint with minimal prep work. A popular choice is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, but there are many brands that provide a chalky finish for updating wood furniture.

Is chalk paint Food Safe?

The majority of chalk paint brands are considered non-toxic and low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds) making them safe for use on a kitchen or dining room table set. However, it is a good idea to read the can of the specific paint brands you are considering before beginning big projects.

If you love DIY Furniture Makeovers, take a look at some of my other projects!


Want to remember this? Pin it to your favorite Pinterest board as a reminder!

White chalk painted kitchen table with dark walnut stained top surface.
Yield: 1 painted table

Chalk Paint Kitchen Table DIY Project

Oak kitchen table with pedestal painted white and top stained.

This easy tutorial for a DIY kitchen table makeover will help you update an old dining table or kitchen table with a little bit of effort. The end result will be a stunning, farmhouse table you will love for years to come.

Active Time 4 days
Total Time 4 days


  • Kitchen table
  • Citristrip
  • Drop cloth
  • Mineral spirits
  • Lint free cloths
  • Painters tape
  • Glad Press-n-seal
  • Minwax pre-stain wood conditioner
  • Minwax dark walnut stain
  • Chalk paint in color of choice
  • Topcoat / sealant


  • Plastic putty knife
  • Plastic dish scrubbie
  • Paint brush


  1. Strip table top. If you will be staining the top of the table and seats of the chairs as I did, you will need to get down to bare wood. This means stripping the old stain or paint with Citristrip or an electric sander. I used Citristrip which worked well. Follow instructions on container for best results. A plastic putty knife and dish scrubbie are helpful in removing paint. Have mineral spirits and a cloth on hand to assist with paint removal as needed.
  2. Stain the Top of the Table. Use a pre-stain wood conditioner, then stain the table top using stain color of choice.
  3. Clean portions of table and chairs to be painted. Use mild warm water on cloth to clean the areas of the table you will paint. For tougher stains or grease spots, consider using a degreaser such as TSP.
  4. Cover stained portions of table. Use Glad Press-n-Seal to cover the stained portions of the table and chairs to ensure paint does not get on these areas.
  5. Chalk Paint Table. Using chalk paint in your color of choice (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is a good choice as is Amy Howard), paint a thin coat of chalk paint and allow to dry. Apply second coat of paint. After adequate dry time, apply touch up paint or third coat as needed.
  6. Seal Painted Kitchen Table. Use polycrylic or polyurethane to seal the table top. Chalk paint wax is an option for a top coat, but I find it is not as durable. A kitchen table top gets heavy use, so keep that in mind.


  • Project is best completed in well ventilated area, perhaps in a garage if able as the process will take several days when including dry times
  • Protect the work area with drop clothes.
  • Test stain on underside of table to ensure you are pleased with stain color choice.
  • If painting with white or light colored chalk paint, consider using a primer, especially if painting over wood stain.
  • White or light color paint may need 3+ coats of paint for excellent coverage.

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  1. 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!

    1. 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!

  2. 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.

    1. 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!

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