So when we bought our home there were a few more projects than we had initially planned on and they were way more in costs than what we had initially thought we would need for budget. (So when exactly did paint like double in price…) So we had to decide what could buy new and what we had to live with. One of those things we had to live with was our kitchen table…reluctantly…very reluctantly on my part…
I need to give a little background. My husband is divorced; hence me being a new mom to a 15 year old. It was not a pretty divorce and there is animosity there…sadly. The kitchen table was the table that he and his previous wife bought when they moved into their new home. I know I am not the only woman alive who feels this way…that furniture MUST go! It just seems wrong to have something in our new home that represents the life they used to have, especially when the feelings are raw regarding the person from the previous relationship. He actually feels the same way; the old furniture must go as soon as possible.
So, for now, I couldn’t get rid of it. We needed it and our funds needed to go to other necessary furniture, furniture that we didn’t have. But I couldn’t just leave it the way it was. Not only would doing so make it still theirs but it also looked like a complete eyesore in our new kitchen. Your eye would travel pleasantly around the room and halt on this yellow pine table and chairs with stained green and ivory gingham chair seats.
I had stained the top of the bar on my pantry cabinets and loved the color so I had this brilliant idea of refinishing my table and chairs and reupholstering the chairs. I mean that’s recycling at its best – taking something old and giving it new life. I was recycling furniture! That was my plan anyways…
Plan A: Staining and Refinishing
So the plan was to stain the chairs and entire table the dark stain that was the same stain as I used on the bar. It was a beautiful ebony stain. Rich and dark and a contrast from our white tile floor and our gray cabinets.
So first word of advice, don’t have your 15 year old son help you sand unless you want to hear complaining the whole time. Second piece of advice, if you find “poke-at-someone” humor annoying, don’t have your comedian husband help either. Okay…I normally appreciate my husband and his desire to help but this was one I could have done without considering I elected to do this project when So Cal was having its Hades hot and humid spell…we are talking over a 100 degrees with high humidity and my patience was thin, extremely thin. I would step outside to work and come in feeling like I just stepped out of the shower. As I said, very thin patience. (I keep telling God, probably not going to learn that lesson well so let’s stop testing my patience. He doesn’t seem to listen on that one.)
So we started the project by taking the existing seats of the chairs and moving everything outside. (Chairs will be covered in the next post.) The table (and chairs) proved to be a challenge. I started first by using TSP. Mental note…TSP and 100 degree heat don’t mix. No sooner than I pasted the TSP on, it was dry. It had no time to penetrate the stain. No amount of scraping would get the stain and finish off. As it turns out, it really didn’t matter.
Next, I tried sanding. Typically you just need to remove the polyurethane protective coating in order to re-stain. You don’t typically need to get down to fresh wood, especially if you are going darker. However, whoever had stained this had done so with a wax. As you can see in the picture of the chair back, the stain would not take. As I said, the fact the TSP didn’t work really didn’t matter. My refinishing recycling furniture project was rapidly looking like it wasn’t going to happen.
Plan B: Painting
Okay…so staining was out because the amount of sanding required would take me months to get done. Painting! My husband and I discussed painting the table light gray and the chairs dark. Ultimately this plan was abandoned because of the abundance of gray would go from pleasing to overwhelming. Plus, over time with the way I know my boys act at tables, the table would get scratched and ruin the paint job.
Plan C: Combination of Stain and Paint
So here is what we decided since once I set my mind to something, I will see it through. For the table, I would grin and bear and sand the top to its raw wood and stain the wood more of a mottled look. Then I would paint the legs a light gray…the same as our upper ceiling cabinets. The chairs would also be painted this same gray. This allowed a rich top which provided a different color while the painted legs and chairs added a contrast from the dark gray on the bottom cabinets. Additionally the light gray offered enough contrast from the fabric I had chosen for the seats.
So I began to sand. Sanding is definitely a project that should be done outside. And in this case especially, sawdust was going to get everywhere. With the flat surface, I was able to use an electric sander. I worked in small areas making sure before I moved on to the next that I was down to the wood itself. It’s hard to see but in the pictures below, you can see the difference in the tone of the wood showing where the stain had been removed and where it had not. After sanding, you will always need to wipe down the surface before you do anything else with your project.
Painting a Picasso…okay Painting a Table
In a previous post on Painting Cabinets, I mentioned that spray paint guns tend to clog during extreme heat. I would recommend using a sponge tip brush for this job. Starting where the base of the table met the legs, I first painted on a primer coat. I allowed this to dry 24 hours. Yes 24 hours even in the extreme heat. The next day, I painted on the gray coat. The trick to not have stroke marks is to make sure your sponge tip brush is not overly loaded with paint. Again, I allowed this to dry 24 hours.
From Pine to Ebony
Next, it was on to the top. I used a wet rag and wiped down the table as best I could and thanks to the heat, the drying time was nothing.
Whenever you are going to stain, these are tools and items I recommend:
- Several rags to wipe up the stain
- Sponge tip brush – size appropriate to the project (small project, small brush. Large project, large brush.)
- Liquid stain in color of your choice – I like Minwax and I chose Ebony for this project
- Flathead Screw Driver or Can Opening Tool
- PolyAcrylic or Polyurethane
- Wet rags
I start by shaking up my stain. Typically I roll it and then once open stir with a paint stick. Once opened, dip the brush into the stain and lightly glide it up against the side to control the amount of stain. Brush on the stain making sure you go with the grain. You will need to let each coat absorb in, about 15 minutes, and then wipe up the excess. The longer you let it sit, the darker the stain. If you are doing more than one coat of stain, which is typical, you will need to let it dry for 1 to 2 hours. Then repeat the staining process. You can do this several times, but note that each time you do, the stain will get darker.
For the look I was trying to achieve, I repeated the staining process twice. This allowed the table top to be a dark and rich ebony color but also allowed some of the natural color of the wood to show through. It gives it more of mottled effect than a solid effect. I preferred this look because it added color without adding too much heaviness.
Next was sealing it and protecting it. For this project, a “clear” polyurethane works perfectly. I really liked the Rust-Oleum for this type of project because if it happens to yellow, it really won’t show due to the dark stain and it is about $20 cheaper than Minwax. You will want to wait a full 8 hours for the stain to completely dry before you apply your protective coat. You will apply it in the same manner as the stain. I recommend using the foam brush again and again you want to make sure you go with the grain. Wait at least 1 hour between coats. You will also want to make sure you apply at least three or more coats to truly give it the protection it needs.
Now, I know it is tempting to use your project right away…believe me it was all I could muster to keep my husband patient…but you will need to let it completely dry for at least 48 hours and let it cure a full 7 before you start using it. But I think my table was worth the wait. I love the stain which I think brings out the table setting and the color of the legs and chairs offer a great and soft contrast between the other elements in the room. But that’s just my opinion. What’s yours?
See you next post for the chairs!