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Pre & Post: The Painted Dining Table

April 1, 2011

Formal dining room + low-budget to fill it + lack of willingness to commit because you are renting = sad dining room! Eating at a glass top Ikea desk seems pretty pathetic post-college.  Way post-college.  I needed a dining table and I needed one now for next to nothing.  I had been cruising Craigslist, perusing rummage sales, and dreaming of overpriced designer models when I came across this gem on Craigslist:

Okay, it’s nothing like a “gem,” but it had fairly clean lines, a leaf, and it was $30.  $30?! It spoke to me.  Plus, the legs come off allowing it to be crammed into a hatchback car.  Obviously, I couldn’t leave it as is… a putrid yellowy wood veneer.

The veneer didn’t seem to be in any shape to be refinished, and I had basically already decided the traditional, dark, wood-heavy dining room needed a pop of color.  Since I already had cream and orange chairs, turquoise was in order.  I had no idea how to paint a table, but these  resources were the most useful to me:



And, the ever handy Home Depot.  I sanded, I primed, and then I applied what was going to be 2 coats of high gloss latex paint.  Seemed to work out just fine.  I wanted to finish it with a clear, high gloss, top coat.  After much debate, consulting Home Depot and handy friends, I decided on a clear, high gloss polycrylic.  Long story short: BAD IDEA. High gloss apparently does not like to adhere to high gloss, even if you sand in between coats.  Even if you switch to a foam brush. Brush strokes and streaks took over by beautiful turquoise masterpiece.  In hindsight, I would have used a matte paint.  Instead I ended up adding another coat of latex turquoise OVER the streaky polycrylic, but was still in need of that top coat.  I felt raw paint wouldn’t hold up to the whole dining aspect.

A clear coat of Rustoleum saved the day.  Rustoleum is basically clear latex paint so the table is not as hard or as resilient as it would have been with a polycrylic or polyurethane top coat.  I applied 2 coats of Rustoleum with a foam brush (not a foam roller!), and finished off by applying two coats of carnauba wax to the top of the table.  Yes, I waxed the table like a car!  It added shine, and I think it helps to protect the table.  Or provides that new car smell to your dining room; you decide.

One week, about $100+/-, four Home Depot trips, one Auto Zone trip, and a lot of frustration later, at least the dining room has semi-grown up.  Here’s the final product:

Brunch anyone?

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2011 10:33 am

    Wow, you have done a brilliant job at transforming a horribel table into something beautiful, even if it it did involve lots of caots of paint and varnish! Looks lovely.

  2. April 1, 2011 12:16 pm

    Thanks so much!

  3. julia permalink
    April 1, 2011 2:14 pm

    brunch? yes please! looks fabulous!

  4. April 4, 2011 10:48 pm

    Love! Love! Love! The Turquoise looks great with the orange and cream chairs!

  5. Mitzi Green permalink
    June 14, 2011 8:56 pm

    love it love it love it love it love it love it love it love it!!!! those chairs are to die for and the table (esp the color) just sets them off! (i’m a retro nerd.) i’m getting ready to paint my own vintage set (also a CL purchase)–someone stained the original blonde wood dark and the veneer just didn’t seem like it would withstand another deep stripping/sanding to refinish. i too am using high-gloss paint, glad i read this–would polyurethane work, or would it also cause the streaking problem?

    • June 14, 2011 10:25 pm

      Thanks sooooo much! The chairs were a CL buy too! I think you’ll have better results with the polyurethane; from my understanding it should go on smoother, esp. if it’s oil-based. The best applicator I tried was the foam brush. Good luck; let me know how it turns out!


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