If you want to give your old table a new look, there are a few ways to do it, and each of them can be refreshing for your table. You do not need a lot of material and tools to finish the table and give it a new spin.

However, you should know how to refinish table tops and restore them properly so that you enjoy seeing them every day after that. Many furniture enthusiasts like to get involved in new projects, so why not pick out an old table from your home and turn it into a new one?

The processes we share here are easy and will make you look for more tables to turn around for a new look. 

Materials and Supplies

Here are some materials that you would need to restore the table top. Some of you might think they are unnecessary, but try them and you will see how they can be an integral part of the whole plan. Here is the list of things you would need:

  • Putty knife or stripper,
  • Oil-based paint,
  • Tung oil or oil-based polyurethane,
  • Sandpaper 
  • Cotton rags,
  • Fine steel wool,
  • Disposable stain brushes,
  • Long-sleeve rubber gloves
  • Orbital sander
  • Mineral spirits,
  • Splash-proof goggles.

Step-by-step Guide to Refinish The Table

Before you start polishing the surface, make sure that you clean it properly. Sometimes, this may require washing with soap and water, while other times, a simple damp wipe might do if your table has been lying in the attic and has layers of dust, a soapy cleaner will be better.

However, if you are re-polishing a tabletop that is already clean, there is no harm in only using a damp cloth. Begin the next step when the table is absolutely dry. 


Applying the Stripper 

Stripper is a chemical agent that reduces the paint on the surface. If the table is painted, you can use the stripper to remove the layer altogether. There are several kinds of strippers available at home improvement stores. Whichever one you select will do, but ensure you follow the box's instructions. 

You will need goggles and long-sleeved gloves for this step, as the chemical can sting. Leave the stripper on for the recommended time, and then use a putty knife to scrape the remaining strokes of paint. Keep wiping the knife to ensure that you get all the paint off without any resistance. If the table is old and the paint has penetrated through the cracks, a second layer of the stripper might be needed. 


Clean the table top with mineral spirit once the paint has completely come off. The stripped table top will need some gentle touch, which the mineral spirits can provide. This spirit will remove any residual stripper and prepare the tabletop for the next step. 

After the mineral spirits layer, you can start grinding the surface with sandpaper. Usually, 100 to 250 grit sandpaper works best when you start with a rough sanding step and then buff the table to make it smooth. 

Applying the paint

Now, the moment of truth has arrived, as it is time for you to apply the paint. You may start with a thinner layer of paint so that the strokes are even. Using oil-based stain means you will have to give each layer of paint some time to set. Remember to see if the surface looks even when the paint is done. You can use a light buff to remove any prominent stain strokes. We have done this before, and I assure you, the result is always smooth. Using a light buff over the paint layer will not harm the finish. 

This finish coat is Tung oil, or polyurethane, which can be procured from a home store. Apply two or more coats, although we have seen that two coats are the best finish. Every coat must be fully cured before you spread the next one. Use a sealant or a varnish to seal the deal! This layer of finish will give the table top a gloss and an exquisite look that will make you smile. 

Restoring a table top

Restoring a tabletop is not as easy as refinishing it because this means you want to keep the table’s look as it is, but you want it to be protected. If the table requires any repairs, get them done before you start the stain refinishing. Moreover, restoring the table can make it look like new. You can restore a table by following the steps here:

  • Use a soapy wipe to clean the surface of the table.
  • Buff it when it is dry and apply the finishing touches to the painted surface only in places where the paint is uneven. If the table top has a design or color that you cannot make by yourself, you can try to get the home store assistants to create the right color for you. 

Once the pain dries, apply a coat of finish to let it set.

  • Apply a layer of varnish to protect and keep the surface from hot and cold food items placed on it.