Dining Table Makeover – From Pine to Dark Stain

Dining Room Table - UsingWhatYouHave.comThis dining table makeover turned out great, even though I ran into a big ‘don’t’ along the way.

Dining Room Table Makeover

I recovered from my mistake and the newly stained table goes so much better in this space than the previous orangey-yellow knotty pine.

Refinishing Dining Room Table - UsingWhatYouHave.com

Background – Dining Table Makeover

Andy bought this solid pine table and 6 chairs from Ikea ~20 years ago.  It was OK in our previous house, which was in a cottage type setting on a heavily treed lot.  The light colored knotty pine of this dining set went well with the bead-board we had installed in the dining room.

But now we are in a more modern city home and the pine does not work.  We briefly considered buying a new table, and ideally we would have wanted either a rectangular table or a very large circular table; either way we did not want yellow knotty pine.  On a day-to-day basis we use the table off our kitchen, and we just don’t entertain enough to make us want to spend a lot of money on a new dining room table.

Pine Dining Room Table - UsingWhatYouHave.com

I am always anxious to re-use an item I have, particularly if it has good bones – and being solid wood qualifies as good bones for me.  So, I decided to try a dining table makeover to bring it more in line with the look we wanted in the room.

Sanding and Staining

After dissembling the table, I used a belt sander to remove the previous finish from all surfaces. I went back over it with a fine grit sandpaper using an orbital sander. I applied the stain generously then immediately wiped of the excess stain.

That was when I learned a lesson I wish I knew before I started – pine does not take stain evenly!  I ended up with some almost black streaks and other sections that remained yellow.  This was not even close to the look I wanted!

Pine Staining Mistake

Alternative view below.

Pine with Dark Stain

So the next step was to try leaving the stain on for the maximum amount of time before wiping it off.  After 15 minutes it was better, but still not great.

Correcting Stain Mistake

The next step was to walk away discouraged.  It took me a week before I could even look at it again and try to decide what to do to salvage it.  I had some experience using the stain/ varnish combination products on several other projects, and I had several on-hand so it would not cost anything to try.

I applied a thin layer (again to a less visible underside piece) with the main objective of getting a more even color tone, while still being able to see the wood grain.

Varnishing dining room tableOne coat did the trick, and although is a bit darker than I intended, it is still possible to see the wood grain, and I am satisfied with the end result.  I finished with a coat of clear varnish.

Re-finished Pine Dining Table

Updating Dining Table Legs

When Andy suggested replacing the table legs with a more interesting shape.  I was reluctant at first. I did not want to put a lot of money into the table that I still see as temporary.  It turns out legs in the size I wanted (2 ¼” top) were inexpensive and look great.

The legs had a tag screwed into the end for displaying in the store, and I was able to use that tag to hang the legs to dry after applying the stain and varnish – yay!

Staining dining room table legsStaining dining room table legs - UsingWhatYouHave.com

I am glad that Andy encouraged me to look for nicer legs.  For a small additional cost ($15 each) they make a big difference.  Other than the product (stain, varnish, sandpaper, paintbrushes) which I had on hand, the only cost for this project was 4 new legs.

Dining Table Makeover - UsingWhatYouHave.com

I am in the process of updating the full dining room, including refinishing the buffet (coming soon) and re-upholstering the parson’s chairs.  The original dining room makeover is here and the article for the current makeover is coming soon!

DIY Makeover Parsons Chair - UsingWhatYouHave.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *