How to Refinish a Wood Table in Just a Few Easy Steps

The ease of some furniture DIYs might surprise you. There's one in particular that requires minimal tools and investment, and the elbow-grease portion of the work can be completed in a few hours. (Then it's just a matter of practicing your patience while things dry—which is probably the hardest part!)

No, we're not talking about reupholstering your favorite chair, though that's doable, too. Instead we mean refinishing a piece of wood furniture—like that worn-out, beat-up wooden table you've been eyeing for months.

Sure, you could always brush on a coat of paint without the hassle of sanding (more on that in a minute) or even consider whitewashing the table, but sometimes a room needs the warmth of natural wood, and refinishing with the stain of your choice is the way to get it.

How to Refinish a Wood Table in Just a Few Easy Steps

Read on for the short list of helpful tools you'll need, a step-by-step breakdown of how to to refinish a wooden table, and answers to common questions like whether you can paint over varnished wood (yep) or refinish without sanding (also yep).

Once you see how easy refinishing wood tables can be, you'll be tempted to try your hand at refinishing other pieces in your home that have been waiting for facelifts.

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If you happen to have the tools you need (see above) already on hand, then the cost of refinishing a wood table or other piece of wooden furniture is your time. If you don’t have these items, expect to spend around $60 at your local hardware store gathering supplies.

Yes. Use a product called TSP, available at your local hardware store. Apply the product, rinse, and let it dry completely. Then prime your furniture and paint as desired. Don’t skip priming, or the grain from the wood may show through.

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As long as you aren’t staining it, yes. Certain types of paint will adhere to painted or stained furniture without sanding. Check out milk paint (like Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint), Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, or a mineral paint. Or use a good-quality primer that’s labeled for no sanding.

You can also try a liquid deglosser (sometimes called liquid sandpaper), which, when applied to the surface of the wood, will remove the paint/finish. Be warned that it does smell, and is best done outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.