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How to Stain a Dining Room Table

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Our next call is from Ohio with our friend named Lisa.

    Lisa, how can we help?

    LISA: Hi. I’ve got a question. I’ve got an oak dining room table …


    LISA: … and I want to update it. I want – I like that black – that painted, black furniture that you see in all the furniture stores.

    LESLIE: Something that looks more like a black lacquer or something that looks more like weathered and aged and has a little bit more texture to it? What kind of finish are you thinking?

    LISA: Kind of like – it’s like ebony wood.

    LESLIE: OK. So are you trying to see the grain or is it more opaque?

    LISA: No, I’d like to see the grain.

    LESLIE: Are you happy with the table the way it is?

    LISA: Yeah, I like the table and that’s why I want to paint it. I’m just – I’m tired of the oak, country look …


    LISA: … so I want to kind of make it a little more contemporary.

    TOM: Wants to de-countrify this. (Leslie chuckles)

    LISA: Exactly. (Tom chuckles)

    LESLIE: But you’re happy with the shape of it and you think the shape can translate to this new, modern feeling you want to put to it.

    LISA: Definitely.

    LESLIE: OK. What is the finish on the wood right now?

    LISA: It’s got like a urethane over it, so it’s nice and smooth.

    LESLIE: OK, but …

    TOM: And this is an important question, Lisa. Is it a veneer finish? Is it a laminate or is it solid oak? Are you sure it’s solid oak?

    LISA: Definitely solid oak.

    TOM: Alright. Well, I think, Leslie, she can sand it down, right?

    LESLIE: Yeah. I would say sand it down, especially if there’s a urethane on it, because you don’t want to put anything on top because nothing is going to stick to that. So you need to get it down to the raw wood. It’s going to take a little while but make sure you do that because in doing that you’re going to get that nice, raw wood; it’s going to really accept any sort of stain that you’re going to put on it.

    So once you sand it down, you want to get rid of all that dust. If you have a compressor or a friend who has a compressor, blow that air off of it. If you don’t, make sure you get a butt-load of tack cloth because you’re going to need it. And you want to wipe off all of that dust and any sort of residue that’s on there. And if you see any spots that still sort of have that finish, get rid of it.

    And then I think a good choice would be just an ebony stain. Go for something – if you want it to be really, really black, you can have something that’s mixed. But there’s already – Minwax already makes an ebony stain that’s really, really dark and it’s so beautiful. And make sure – I’m sorry, Tom; go ahead.

    TOM: And before you hit the top of that with the ebony stain, I would turn the table upside down, work on the back of it, sand the back just as much as the front, and then apply the stain to the underside of the table just to get a feel as to what it’s going to look like as a finished product. Fortunately, it’s a solid oak surface, so you can actually really get a good idea of what it’s going to look like and you can experiment that way. If it’s not quite dark enough, it’s easier to make the correction when you’re working on raw wood because you don’t want to put it on and not be happy with it and have to take it off again. That would really stink.

    LESLIE: And it’s interesting, there are a lot of products out there that are the stain and the finishing product combined in one, so it’s like a stain and poly; but they’re not available in as many colors. You might get lucky because they do go on quite nicely. And so pick a stain that you like, go for as opaque or as translucent, do as many coats as you feel until you get to the desired finish. Make sure you sand in between coats lightly just to rough it up so it’ll really take that next coat as well.

    And once you’re happy with the color, definitely seal it. And it doesn’t have to be glossy. It can be satin, it can semi-gloss, but make sure you put in on there so that it will retain the color and also allow you to clean it.

    LISA: Yeah, definitely. OK, well that sounds great. Now if I just get the nerve to tackle the project.

    TOM: Oh, go for it, Lisa. (Tom and Lisa chuckle) Alright.

    LISA: I love your show, Leslie. I’ve been watching for, I don’t know, probably two or three years now.

    LESLIE: Thanks.

    LISA: It’s a lot of fun.

    LESLIE: Thanks so much.

    TOM: Thanks, Lisa. Thanks for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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