DIY Edition: How to Refinish an Old Table

Refinishing an old wood table can be a satisfying project that can give new life to a piece of furniture.

Whether you inherited a table from a family member or found one at a thrift store, refinishing it can be a great way to customize it to your taste and make it look like new again.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to refinish an old wood table.

Let’s dive in.

a table topped with different types of tools

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Before starting, gather all the necessary supplies. You’ll need:

  1. sandpaper,
  2. a sanding block or orbital sander
  3. wood stain or paint
  4. brushes or rollers
  5. a finish such as polyurethane or wax

You may also need a scraper or putty knife, depending on the condition of the table.

two hammers beside screwdriver

Step 2: Prepare the Table

Start by removing any old finish or paint from the table.

You can use a scraper or putty knife to remove the bulk of the old finish, and then use sandpaper to remove any remaining bits.

If the table has deep scratches or gouges, use wood filler to repair them before sanding.

person holding yellow and black cordless power tool

Step 3: Sand the Table

Once the old finish is removed, it’s time to sand the table.

Sand the surface of the table with a coarse grit sandpaper, and then move to a finer grit to smooth out the surface.

If you’re using an orbital sander, start with a coarse grit and work your way up to a fine grit.

Sand with the grain of the wood, and make sure to sand evenly to avoid any uneven spots.

brown wooden handle brush on brown wooden table

Step 4: Apply Stain or Paint

Once the table is sanded, it’s time to apply your chosen stain or paint.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application, and make sure to apply evenly.

Use a brush or roller to apply the stain or paint, and allow it to dry completely before applying a second coat.

brown wooden handle brush on brown wooden table

Step 5: Apply a Finish

After the stain or paint is dry, apply a finish to protect the surface of the table.

You can use polyurethane, wax, or another type of finish depending on your preference.

Apply the finish in thin coats, following the manufacturer’s instructions for application and drying time.

Sand lightly between coats if necessary.

selective focus photography of snake plant in vase

Step 6: Enjoy Your Newly Refinished Table

Once the finish is dry, your table is ready to use!

Enjoy your newly refinished piece of furniture and take pride in the fact that you gave it a new life.

With proper care, your refinished table can last for many years to come.


Refinishing an old wood table can be a fun and rewarding DIY project.

It requires some patience and attention to detail, but the end result is a customized piece of furniture that you can be proud of.

With the right tools and techniques, you can bring an old table back to life and make it look like new again.