Home Decor DIY: Two Ways to Refinish an End Table

Updated on May 7, 2018
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Tori is a 26-year-old, three-time animal mom DIYer living in Northern Atlanta with her boyfriend.

In this article we'll discuss two awesome end table refinishes that I did last summer!
In this article we'll discuss two awesome end table refinishes that I did last summer! | Source

Getting Started + Motivation

I love home DIY projects (clearly). I had not done any in a while and decided that I needed to start again. To try to satisfy my DIY craving, I refinished a few pieces and resold them after I was done to turn a little bit of a profit.

My boyfriend and I hit the Goodwill jackpot—all of the pieces I have done so far this summer cost me not more than $10 per piece plus supplies. My first two projects were two end tables. One was $10 and the other was $5. I did these projects simultaneously because they were both small enough that I could afford the space. Here's how they turned out!

"Before" picture of the Out Dated End Table
"Before" picture of the Out Dated End Table | Source
"Before" picture of the Rickety Old German Looking End Table
"Before" picture of the Rickety Old German Looking End Table | Source

For a More In-Depth How-To on Sanding and Staining Wood...

I previously wrote a blog post about the coffee table I refinished a couple years ago. If this is your first foray into refurbishing wood, check out that article here for a more in-depth how-to on removing old varnish, sanding, staining, and protecting wooden pieces!

The Outdated End Table

This was the $10 end table. It wasn't TERRIBLE when I bought it but it did have scratches and visible wear & tear, plus a badly fixed hind leg that appeared to have shattered at one point towards the top. I wanted to completely transform it, so I chose to do the base in white and do a bright color on top. After mulling it over at the home improvement store for about 30 minutes, I decided to stain it teal.

First, I started by taking the whole thing apart. When you are trying to refinish something whether it be painting or staining, you should always take it apart because the paint or stain job will look less sloppy. It also makes it easier to get it done in a more timely manner because small pieces are easier to paint than big pieces. This table was very heavy wood held together by wood glue and finishing nails. Luckily the top came off pretty easy, but I did have to let the legs stay connected to the walls because the glue was too strong on some of the connectors.

Once I satisfactorily got the thing apart, I started on the table top first. I started by using Kleen Strip's spray-on paint stripper to remove as much of the varnish as possible. After it set, I scraped as much of the paint stripper as possible and gave it a second try to get more off. Once I got off all that I could, I washed the wood and let it dry till the next day.

When the wood was dry, there was still some visible stains from the varnish on the wood, so I used 80 grit sandpaper paper on my Ryobi belt sander to remove the rest. After the wood was completely clean, I washed it with dish soap and dried it. Once dry, I used a foam brush to apply the stain. This particular stain didn't need a top polurethane coat, so I left it as-is after putting on two layers of stain.

While the table top was drying, I got the legs and base done. I lightly sanded the base with coarse, then fine grit sandpaper, to give the paint something to stick to. I painted the whole base including the drawer with white paint.

After all pieces were dry, I used wood glue to put everything back together, using clamps in places as necessary to hold the pieces together long enough to dry.

I sold this end table for $50. I already had most of the supplies on-hand and the only new thing I had to buy was the blue stain. I ended up making about a $30 profit after everything was said and done!

The Process in Photos: The Outdated End Table

Taking apart the table so I can paint it. You want to take apart as many pieces as possible otherwise the paint job won't turn out as well.
Taking apart the table so I can paint it. You want to take apart as many pieces as possible otherwise the paint job won't turn out as well. | Source
This is the table top after I belt-sanded off the old stain and then used a palm sander with a fine grit sandpaper to smooth it out before staining.
This is the table top after I belt-sanded off the old stain and then used a palm sander with a fine grit sandpaper to smooth it out before staining. | Source
I applied two coats of stain using a foam brush, leaving plenty of time to dry in between each coat. I lightly sanded in between the first and the second coat to avoid bumps in the final layer. After this, I put on a layer of polyurethane sealant.
I applied two coats of stain using a foam brush, leaving plenty of time to dry in between each coat. I lightly sanded in between the first and the second coat to avoid bumps in the final layer. After this, I put on a layer of polyurethane sealant. | Source
I lightly sanded down then painted each piece of the base of the table, and set them out to dry.
I lightly sanded down then painted each piece of the base of the table, and set them out to dry. | Source
Using clamps and wood glue, I put the table back together and left in the sun to dry before reattaching the table top.
Using clamps and wood glue, I put the table back together and left in the sun to dry before reattaching the table top. | Source
And here is the finished product. So pretty!
And here is the finished product. So pretty! | Source

Outdated End Table Supplies

Product
Buy From...
Cost
Rust-Oleum Painters Touch Latex Paint in White
Home Depot, Amazon, or other local home improvement store
$15
Varathane 3X Vintage Aqua Premium Wood Interior Stain
Home Depot, Amazon, or other local home improvement store
$17
Foam paint brush (for applying the stain)
Home Depot, Amazon, or other local home improvement store
$.60
Wooster 2 in. Nylon/Polyester Short Handle Angle Sash Brush (for applying the paint)
Home Depot, Amazon, or other local home improvement store
$9
Elmer's Wood Glue
Home Depot, Amazon, or other local home improvement store
$3
I already had all of these supplies at home except for the blue stain and had used them previously, so it wasn't as expensive on a per-piece basis. I definitely recommend that if you choose to do a similar project, that you choose colors that you wil

The Rickety German-Looking End Table

I have to be honest with you on this second end table - I only bought it because it was $5. I thought it was uglier than anything. It looked like it came out of an old lady's house in Germany. It was incredibly rickety and whoever had stained it previously did a terrible job.

I started by taking everything apart. I decided I wanted the table top to be natural wood, and that the base should be a bright color. Using a belt sander, I took the old stain off of the table top. I washed it down with soap and water to remove any residue. Then I applied wood conditioner, let it set for an hour or two, and a protective coat of polyurethane to it. I was able to complete the table top in just a few hours (of course, the polyurethane had to dry overnight).

The base of the table was also easy, but took just a little longer due to multiple coats of paint. I lightly hand sanded with a coarse-grit sandpaper, then a smaller grit sandpaper to get enough grip on the wood for the paint not to peel off. After washing the wood down with soap and water to remove residue, I painted the base red. Two layers of paint seemed to do the job. After putting the table back together, it started growing on me, and instead of selling it I decided to keep it.

The Process in Photos: The Rickety German-Looking End Table

I started off by taking everything apart. I sanded down the table with a belt sander to remove the old stain, then smoothed out using a palm sander. I didn't have to use any varnish stripper for this one because the sanding did such a good job!
I started off by taking everything apart. I sanded down the table with a belt sander to remove the old stain, then smoothed out using a palm sander. I didn't have to use any varnish stripper for this one because the sanding did such a good job! | Source
I painted each of the base pieces red. While these were drying, I added a coat of polyurethane to the table top. I didn't stain the table top because we really liked how the natural wood looked.
I painted each of the base pieces red. While these were drying, I added a coat of polyurethane to the table top. I didn't stain the table top because we really liked how the natural wood looked. | Source
Here's the color I used...this is such a beautiful color!
Here's the color I used...this is such a beautiful color! | Source
The finished, reassembled product... we also replaced the screws that were holding everything together to ensure it wasn't as rickety as when we started!
The finished, reassembled product... we also replaced the screws that were holding everything together to ensure it wasn't as rickety as when we started! | Source

Rickety German-Looking End Table Supplies

Product
Buy From...
Cost
Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch Ultra Cover Latex Paint in Colonial Red
Home Depot, Amazon, or other Home Improvement Store
$15
Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner
Home Depot, Amazon, or other Home Improvement Store
$5
Minwax Polyurethane Clear Semi-Gloss
Home Depot, Amazon, or other Home Improvement Store
$5
Foam Paint Brush (for applying polyurethane)
Anywhere
$.60
Wooster Nylon/Polyester Short Handle Angle Sash Brush (for applying the paint)
Home Depot, Amazon, or other Home Improvement Store
$9
Again, I had all of these supplies already except for the red paint. Choosing colors you will use again is a must!

In Conclusion...

Redoing these end tables was very cheap and incredibly easy. If you're looking for a good project to start with for refinishing, a cheap end table from Goodwill is a great place to start. The nicest thing about starting with an end table is that you don't need a lot of space to do the project - you can do it on the patio of your apartment home if you wanted!

Happy refurbishing and check back soon for more DIY articles coming soon!

Source

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