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How To Refinish A Wooden Kitchen Table Using Burlap

November 20, 2019

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Refinishing your worn kitchen table is a great alternative to buying new.

Especially when you already love what you have.

It also protects the wood and the process is easier than you think.

Farmhouse Table DIY with apples and flowers in white bowls and pitchers

 Several months ago, we remodeled our bathroom and it opened a huge can of decorating worms.

One thing certainly does lead to another and I've been moving around from one "another" to "another" since April. Here's my latest unintentional DIY.

And it all started in the kitchen.

I was working on my new curtains, trying to decide what to do with that beautiful fabric, taking pictures to see the room a little better, when I noticed the condition of my island.

Oh no. Not good.

Refinishing Table Before with arrows pointing to damage

But fitting, since this sucker is old. I got it when I worked at Pottery Barn over 20 years ago and it was almost free.

It was the main table in our old cottage and when we moved here we turned it into an island with a little creativity and a quick cheat. It was the best DIY decision we ever made.

As an island, it's served as the hub and furniture workhorse of our home. Cooking, baking, three meals a day, holiday gatherings, Play-Doh and homework. You name it, it's happened here.

And it showed.

Wooden table with damage and wear spots in the kitchen

When we updated it the first time, we didn't refinish the top, we just stained the "legs" to mostly match the top.

However, the top is pine and the legs are oak, so it was never really a seamless blend.

Plus, time had taken its toll on the whole piece and it was looking shabby. The wood was also becoming damaged where the stain has worn away.

I'd been telling my husband for over a year that it needed help. I'd already repaired the chair's rush seat to look like new.

That table needed to catch up.

Of course, he was so busy with all the other renovations that this was last on the list. However, now, its condition was really taking away from all the new things in the room.

So one chilly Saturday morning, he took it outside and began the makeover.

How To Refinish A Wooden Kitchen Table

1. The first step was to sand the table down.

I have to be honest, I wasn't thrilled with this step.

My babies have been writing on this table for over 20 years. Imprints of their names and their 3rd grade math homework were worn into the finish. I loved that.

But Mr. DoItTheRightWay told me he had to sand it all the way to get the old finish off before he could add new or it'd be a mess.

 wasn't any way around it. Sad face.

Sanded Wooded Table outside on a patio

He used a lightweight electric orbital sander to make easy work of the job. When he was done he dusted the table off and got it ready for stain.

2. Add Stain.

In order to get the color as close to what it was before, because I loved that, he had to give it several coats in different colors.

He just used whatever we had in the garage and he applied one coat at a time with a rag. He used long even strokes in the direction of the wood grain.

I've since found a new stain that I love and used to refinish my mantel.

3. Wipe Off Excess.

Then he grabbed a dry rag and went over table with the same long, even motions, to remove excess.

He repeated this procedure until the desired color was reached. So far, very simple, sand and stain complete in one afternoon.

Stained Wooden Table outside in yard

4. Let It Dry.

Then he came inside and let that table set for a few days to dry completely before he added a sealer. This was important since it's a kitchen table/ island.

5. Add Sealer.

Just like our DIY wooden bathroom countertop, it needs to stand up to all sorts of abuse....including water, food spills and various other messes.

Also, I didn't want a glossy table. My style is more rugged, rustic and worn. Sparkle was not in the plan. So he chose this Watco Wipe-On Poly in a satin finish.

It boasted a hand rubbed appearance.

Watco Wipe On Poly

And since all these chemicals are nasty, he protected his hands with these very strong gloves.

He also wore a mask, even though he was outside.

He rubbed on 3 or 4 coats with a rag - in the same direction as the wood - and let each dry thoroughly in between. One coat per day.

This part cannot be rushed.

Grease Monkey Nitrile Gloves

And. After all these good intentions the table was still a tad too shiny for my taste.

That's ok, my DIY hero seems to have an answer for everything.

6. Take Down The Shine.

He'd read somewhere that if you rub a piece of burlap over the totally dry and cured finish it would take it down a bit.

Fabulous. I had burlap.

It was an old Easter banner, one I'd used for fall, too , but I was willing to sacrifice it in the name of a good DIY. And it was totally worth it because it worked like a charm, besides it was cheap. I could buy another.

A few swipes over the table top in the direction of the wood grain did the trick.

Burlap banner on a table

The entire table was refreshed.

The worn spots on top, the peeling sides and the legs all blend perfectly and have been restored to showroom quality.

Wooden Table After Staining Makeover

It's actually almost a little too perfect for my taste, but that's ok.

I have a big family and the holidays are coming up. It'll have that loved and lived in look in no time.

As a matter of fact my daughter dropped a can on it the other day and when she told me, my response was Great!! Do it again.

I've even resorted to bribing them with cookies to do their homework at the island instead of on campus.

I'm not sure college level statistics will have the same charm as 3rd grade division.

But the view is certainly so much better.

Charming Cottage Kitchen with white round table and wooden kitchen island

And besides, maybe I'll learn something.

Although, I hate math.

Maybe I should ask them to do their English homework here instead.


What do you think of my new view?

Update Your Old Kitchen Table with these easy steps text over damaged table photo
Kim Signature

Post a Comment | 36 Comments

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  1. Kim this is beautiful. I can imagine it was tough letting go of the memories of kids doing their homework. Look at the end result and as you said it will be worn in, in no time. Especially with baking and cooking season upon us.

    Did your daughter look at you like you were crazy when you said do it again?🤭


    1. So funny, Cindy!! She knew where I was coming from so she wasn’t surprised. She told me she’d do her best to “not be careful” another day. 😉 They know I’m nuts when it comes to decor!! And thank you!!

  2. Oh Kim this came out sooooo pretty. Love it. I loved it worn too. That is just me and loving the shabby look. The new color and finish are perfect. I love your round table and the chairs too especially the upholstered chair you did. Looks so awesome in your kitchen.

    1. Thanks Kris! It was lovely shabby, but the wood was starting to check and separate where the finish had worn off. Water was getting inside, so we had to do something. Hopefully, my messy kids will have it transformed to a better version of its former shabby self in no time! ☺️ They have those kind of skills! Ha!

  3. I love how great your table came out Kim! I also have a Wood kitchen table that is worn out but I love it! It’s great having a handy husband. :)

    1. I live the worn look, too, Julie. I hope it’ll be back to looking loved soon! In the meantime it’s pretty spiffy!

  4. It turned out beautifully, Kim. We have refinished a lot of wood and you did it just right. That is such a pretty room with a pretty view..Happy Wednesday..xxoJudy

    1. Thank you, Judy! It’s my favorite piece and I’m pleased with the results! Happy Wednesday! xo

  5. Isn't it funny how you start with redoing one thing & then you see all these other things that need makeovers??? Well the table is beautiful & he made the process look so easy. I'm sure it will grow on you even though all the old embedded initials are gone.

    1. Thanks Florence, I really do like it. It's very pristine now...and it looks good with the rest of the new things in the room. And we'll make new initials!

  6. I love it! It really turned out beautiful - perfect color and matte finish. And who would have thought burlap would make that much of a change?

    1. Thanks Mari! And I know, that burlap trick took me by surprise, but it worked out really well.

  7. Kim,
    WOW!! what a great transformation!! It came out beautiful!! Love it!! Thanks so much for taking the time to visit!!

    1. Always fun to visit you, Debbie and thanks for the sweet comment. Have a super Thursday!

  8. beautiful look Kim. It really makes a big difference. saving money and retaining the look you love.

    1. Thanks Linda...and all in pretty short order! Quick and easy, just how I like it!

  9. WOW, it looks brand new. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Betty. It’s been pretty abused, so it was about time. ☺️

  10. Beautiful! I have an old table that needs refinishing and now you've given me a winter project to focus on!

    1. Oh so glad you found some inspiration here today, Debbie! If you try the burlap tip, you'll have to let me know!

  11. Your table looks great, Kim! I love the color of stain your hubby used. So rich and pretty. Hugs, Nancy

    1. Thank you so much, Nancy! It took a few coats in two different colors to get it there, but I'm all smiles about it now. Hope you're enjoying this pre-holiday season at home and at work!! Hugs to you, friend!

  12. Oh it looks wonderful Kim!! I just said to Sweetie the other day that my dining room table needs some TLC. It's an antique, which I purchased with the house, but they surely beat it near to death. It even has cigarette burns on it! I really need to sand it down and refinish it, like I did with my island last year.

    1. There's no table like an old table, Debbie!! But I'd probably look better without the cigarette burns! Keep us posted!

  13. Kim, we have a table that is very similar and needs some TLC. Guess who I am sharing this post with? Yep! The Mr.
    Happy Thanksgiving,

    1. Happy Thanksgiving! You'll have to let me know how that table turns out!

  14. Oh and when my Mr. does redo our table.. I will be sad too, I have the same imprints on my table. That might be why I am so slow about the redo.
    xx oo

    1. I know, Carla! 😔 I held out for as long as I could. The table was starting to get damaged so I had no choice. It’s funny though, a few of the imprints were deep and still there - ever so faintly. Sometimes during dinner we all search to see what we can find!

  15. It turned out wonderful! I will have to remember that burlap trick!

    1. Thanks Penny! It was a new to me trick, too!

  16. It truly looks beautiful Kim. Drop those cans girls!!

  17. "you can't rush this part... you can't rush this part... you can't rush this part..."
    I'm afraid this project wouldn't stand a chance at my house! It would either be rushed or never finished.
    It's such a good thing you have a HHH to do the long-haul projects! Great job! I'll have to remember the burlap trick. (But I'd have to go buy the burlap, as I don't keep any in the house!)

    1. Lucky indeed...I'm great with the crafting jobs, but when it's a true, power tool kind of DIY, I'm out!!

  18. Oh dear I think my heart would have been a little sore too Kim. Isn't it wonderful how a well loved piece becomes like that, filled with memories and special dings and dangs that make you smile. Now you have a whole new canvas for all the memories waiting to happen, and who knows, maybe one day the grandbabies will be making their own special little marks to enjoy