If you have an old coffee table, or purchased a NEW old coffee table at a thrift store or yard sale you're in the right place! It's not so difficult to refinish a coffee table. I will show you how to bring new life to your old coffee table.
This is my coffee table “before”. I bought it at a thrift store mall. Which is different than a thrift store. It’s one of those places that has “booths” with a lot of vendors. I paid $20.00 for it. Which is definitely over my $5.00 limit. However when I’m buying something for my own personal use, I don’t always stick to my $5.00 limit. It is a very functional table, but with the new changes in my living room I wanted to change the color.
How to Refinish a Coffee Table
Your first step will be to inspect your project piece to make sure it's structure is sound. This is the time to make any repairs before you start to refinish a coffee table.
Rescuing old furniture is not for the weak! I kept waiting for warm weather so I could take it out and sand it. As you can see by the snow in the picture, it wasn’t all that warm on the day I finally decided to brave the cold.
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I sanded the top really well, because I was going to stain it. The rest of the table I just gave a quick sanding so that I could paint it.
Don't forget to clean your project well before proceeding. There are great deglossing products on the market that will aid in taking the shine off of the portion of the coffee table that you intend to paint.
I started with a coat of Kilz primer. (painting it on the kitchen table). If I were to do this again, I would most likely follow the steps outlined in my article Thrift Store Coffee Table using All in One Paint. If you want to save money, and make your own DIY chalky paint primer, find those painting details in my article Queen Anne Coffee Table. All that to say, you really don't need to go the extra step and expense of buying Kilz primer to paint and refinish a coffee table.
I painted 2 coats of Kilz before I started painting it with this quart of glidden paint.
Using Latex Wall Paint on Furniture
The color is Crisp Linen White. I’m sort of over Heirloom White, cause it’s a little too yellow to suit me these days.
Stainable Wood Putty
The next step to refinish a coffee table is to make sure it's ready to stain. Because I use my coffee table for a footstool, the boards were separating slightly. I glued and clamped them, but I wasn’t able to draw them in enough.
Have you used this product before? I picked up this special putty (plastic wood by Dap). I usually use wood filler, but it is not stainable. This putty is already colored. Walnut was the color I chose because that's the stain color I used. Because I had never used this product before, I was surprised to find out that you stain the piece before using the filler.
I puttied the table, not realizing that I should have been a little neater. This stuff was very hard to sand. When I sanded it off, it lightened the stain color. I applied more stain but it wouldn’t take very well. To be honest, this is why I prefer to paint furniture rather than stain it when doing a furniture makeover.
Seal Refinished Coffee Table with Polycrylic
Here is the table now, in my “almost new” living room. You can see that the center is lighter (where I sanded too much).
But it works perfect for me! I love the look of the white and the walnut together!
I sealed the top with polycrylic. It was too cold to seal it outside, and the polycrylic, even though it has an odor, is not as offensive as polyurethane.
I applied about 5-6 coats of the polycrylic.
This table will never be neat. If I were to take a picture right now, you would see: my camera, my camera cord, camera tripod, some coupons, a tape measure, cordless phone, a sheet, (I was sanding earlier, and didn’t want my computer to suck in the dust, so I used the sheet to cover the computer) a drill bit, a couple of bills, and some magazines. And of course my laptop is usually sitting on the corner where I sit.
I am practically finished with the media center base unit. The doors are attached, and the shelf is installed. I still need to caulk a couple of cracks, and paint again. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.
UPDATE how to refinish a coffee table:
The coffee table has been in my living room now for nearly 13 years. The paint and stain have held up well. I wonder, maybe it's time for a new update ? Stay tuned!
Gail Wilson is the author and mastermind behind My Repurposed Life. She is obsessed with finding potential in unexpected places and believes that with a little hard work and imagination, any old thing can be made useful again, including herself!
Gail reinvented herself during a midlife crisis and has found purpose again. She hopes you will find new ideas for old things and pick up a few tools along the way.