How To Strip Down Your Dining Table For A Special Occasion

How-To Repurpose / Refurbish
Table Makeover Before & After

Table Makeover Before & After.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I was really wanting a new kitchen table but I knew it wasn’t in the budget.  So I was left with two choices: paint it or stain it (oh, and leaving it as is was not an option for me because my mind was set on changing that table).

I have painted a lot of furniture in my time, but I have never stripped and stained anything (yikes!).  I really wanted the table to have a dark, rich, barnwood look, so staining it was.  I decided though that I would only stain the top and leave the legs as is.  I can tell you that painting furniture is much easier; however, I am really happy with the results and I feel like I have a brand new table.  Check it out…

Table Makeover…Here’s what you’ll need:

 Here’s what you do:

Step 1.  I had to strip the white paint, so I started off by using Citristrip Stripping Gel* (I chose Citristrip because it was low odor).  It goes on orange and slowly peels the paint off.  Then you use a wood scraper to scrape it off.  The Citristrip was taking a little too long for my impatience, and it was not quite pulling all of the paint off. So I switched to Jasco Premium Paint & Epoxy Remover and a metal scraper.  Smart move on my part.  It removed the paint so much quicker and more thoroughly.

Stripping off paint with Citristrip

Stripping off paint with Citristrip.

Citristrip stripping gel

Citristrip stripping gel.

Fnishing the stripping job with Jasco Premium Paint & Epoxy Remover

Fnishing the stripping job with Jasco Premium Paint & Epoxy Remover.

Jasco Premium Paint & Epoxy Remover

Jasco Premium Paint & Epoxy Remover.

Step 2.  Once all of the paint was scraped off, I used my electric sander and sanded down the entire surface until it was really smooth.

Sanding down the entire surface of the table

Sanding down the entire surface of the table.

Step 3.  Next came the staining.  I used Varathane Wood Stain  in the American Walnut color.  I applied the stain with small staining pads and rubbed it into the wood.  I applied two solid coats because I really wanted to make sure it would absorb into the wood and stay dark.  I was really loving what I saw.

Staining the wood with Varathane wood stain

Staining the wood with Varathane wood stain.

Varathane Wood Stain, American Walnut and staining pad

Varathane Wood Stain, American Walnut and staining pad.

Step 4.  Finally, I used Varathane’s clear Polyurethane in a satin finish to seal it.  Two light coats was all it needed to give the tabletop a smooth and protected finish.

Finished off table with Varathane's Clear Polyurethane, satin

Finished off table with Varathane’s Clear Polyurethane, satin.

Step 5.  I let the table sit for 24 hours before bringing it back into the house and using it.  In the end, it didn’t take long, nor did it cost much and I was thrilled with the results and got the exact look that I wanted.

Table makeover after!

Table makeover after!

Here, I’ve dressed my “new” table with just a simple woven runner and lazy Susan centerpiece, my flea market find, a repurposed oil drum chandelier, peers down in approval. Now my dining room is ready for company and for any special occasion…Thanksgiving and Christmas? Bring ’em on!

Update: See how I created this rustic and romantic Thanksgiving tablescape that dressed up my “new” table!

Would you try this DIY project on your dining table? Would you makeover just the top or the whole thing?

Photography by Bridget Johnson, HomeJelly

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Written By Bridget Johnson

Bridget is a personal organizer and veteran DIYer/home decorator. She is a regular HomeJelly contributor who makes over flea market and curbside finds into unique decor pieces and inspires us to simplify our spaces with design flair. She lives in South Orange County with her fantastic cook of a husband and talented two kids.

  • Anna Munoz

    I have a white round table that I also want to stain the top walnut. Can I just use the JASCO premium paint and epoxy remover or must I use the Citristrip stripping gel first then the JASCO?

    This is my first project and kind of worried if I do it right.

    • Skaie Knox

      Hi Anna! You can use either one. The Citristrip is supposed to be more environmentally friendly, and really does work well. Just follow the directions on the bottle and be sure to wear rubber gloves – this stuff can burn!!! Make sure you also work on a tarp or better yet, newspaper – when you start scraping the paint off, you’ll definitely drip some of it on the ground and it’ll be a lot easier to clean if you can simply throw the newspaper away when finished.

      Allow the wood to dry afterward. I’d say for at least 2-3 hours before sanding. Once you’ve sanded and wiped down your tabletop, you can start the real fun of staining!

      We’d SO love to see your progress and “after” photo(s)…if you’d like, please send them to us at [email protected]. I’d personally LOVE to see your results! Goooood luck and “get stupid” and go for it!

  • April


    I love your table!! Great job 🙂
    I was wondering how many coats of the american walnut did you have to apply to get it to be that shade. Thanks,


    • HomeJelly

      Hi April!

      I used only 2 coats of the America walnut stain. You can certainly add another if you’d like a darker look. In my experience, what’s fantastic about DIYing is, you can tailor your project any way you wish. Start with two coats, then, after it dries, see what you think about the color. If you want more, go for it! Thanks for stopping in…good luck on your table!