I have recently enjoyed refinishing furniture. I started doing more projects when the pandemic began in 2020, and found that it was very rewarding.
I was originally given this table by a neighbor who was moving. It is a nice, solid piece, and I just wanted to update it so it would be lighter and brighter. I look on sites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for used furniture, and it is fairly easy to find pieces that are solid wood and styles that I like.
The first step was to remove the top of the table from the base. This coffee table was a pleasure to work with, because the top simply came off after removing about 8 screws. We have had other tables that needed to be completely dismantled.
For the top of the table, I sanded off the dark finish. I started with a rough paper, around 100 grit, and worked my way up to a much finer grit (200+) once the color came off. I recommend starting with something like 120 to see how it is on your project, before going with a coarser grit. You don’t want to leave scratches on your wood surface.
There are also different qualities of sandpaper. I used some cheap Harbor Freight sandpaper, and then switched to 3M – what a difference! (Even cheap sandpaper can serve a purpose – like when I was sanding our staircase railings, which had dark, thick layers of poly).
The table had a lot of stain as well as scratches, which is why I started with a more aggressive approach to remove the imperfections and colors.
I used a palm sander, which took a while. For future projects, I may invest in a better sander. One of the most satisfying parts of a refinishing project is seeing the beautiful wood grain hiding underneath all that dark stain!
For the blue coffee table base, I sanded it lightly with a very fine 220 grit sandpaper. Someone also recommended steel wool, but we already had a wide range of sandpaper on hand, and the 220 was perfect.
I used a sandpaper that had a rubbery backing because of the round shape of the legs. I was able to hold the sandpaper and wrap it around the rounded parts. For flat portions of the table, I wrapped the sandpaper on a block. This did not require a lot of sanding – just enough to rough up the surface and to remove any peeling paint.
I was concerned about my white paint being able to cover and stick well over the dark blue, so I started with Zinsser spray primer. The can cost me about $11 and did about one coat before running out. Be careful about following the instructions for this: shake adequately, do your project in a well-ventilated area, don’t spray too close to your surfaces, keep moving as you spray. I did get a few drips when I wanted to put on a thick layer, so exercise patience.
I did the subsequent coats of spray paint with Rustoleum Paint + Primer, which runs about $5.99 a can. In retrospect, I could have probably gone with the Rustoleum from the start, but the overall project budget was still low. The Rust-Oleum did an amazing job of smoothly coating everything, and I love the semi-gloss finish. I did one coat of Zinssers Primer and two coats of Rustoleum.
For the coffee table top, I wanted to maintain the color as much as possible. I have used oil-based polyurethane before, and for this project, decided to go with a water-based poly instead. The oil-based polyurethanes will add a yellow finish, while the water-based does not change the color as much. It is a thinner product, so it took a little more patience. I did several coats with brushes and foam brushes, sanding between coats to remove lines. For the last few coats, I used a microfiber cloth to brush it on. I had read that it can be tough to tell where you have even applied the water-based polyurethane as you work, and I would agree that is the case.
The final product!
I am so thrilled with the final product! It came out beautifully and is so light and bright. The wood grain is gorgeous and I love the natural color.