How to Refinish a Table

It’s done (well, it’s been done for a while, but I haven’t had the chance to write it up. What can I say, life happens y’all)! I’ve finally completed my project of refinishing the bar table I picked up from Facebook Marketplace for $50. It was not the easiest project I’ve ever done, but I am so happy I put the effort into the table, rather than just painting it white and calling it a day.

Here are some before shots:

While there was nothing wrong with the table; it’s sturdy, well made and has no large knicks, scratches or dents, it just wasn’t my style. The orange-y oak color wasn’t vibing with the other furniture pieces in our basement. I knew the only thing to do was to stain it a darker color!

Here are the step-by-step directions on how to refinish a solid wood table!

Here is everything (minus an old t-shirt and a hand sander) that I used to conquer this project.

To get started, you’ll pour the Citristrip in the metal bucket. Why do I need a metal bucket, you ask? The metal bucket is important because you need to pour the Citristrip in something in order to paint it on the wood. You don’t want to pour the Citristrip directly on the wood because you won’t be able to control how thick it gets spread on. Make sure you are wearing gloves!

With a paint brush or foam brush, paint on a layer of Citristrip on the wood. Don’t be afraid to paint it on rather thick. You’ll need to make sure that you paint on every surface in order for the chemicals to work correctly. I painted the stripper on the top, base and legs of my table and left the chemicals to work their magic for about a half hour.

Next, with your plastic scraper (and a lot of elbow grease) scrape off the chemicals/stain and everything else off! For me, the stain color combined with the Citristrip it look like caramel! The consistency was even caramel-y. Check out the photo below.

Make sure that you scrape the way the grain goes.

After you scrape everything off the table, base and legs, use the Mineral Spirits to wipe off any remaining Citristrip or stain. You can use an old t-shirt to wipe the Mineral Spirits all over the table. After the Mineral Spirits have dried, it’s now time to whip out your trusty hand sander. What’s that? You don’t have a hand sander? PULL THE TRIGGER ALREADY! Seriously, this was the best $40 I’ve ever spent!


With your hand sander, smooth out any knicks or scratches or if you don’t have any of those, just smooth out the entire table so the stain has a good, clean surface to attach to. Make sure you sand in the same direction of the grain. Here is my table after I have stripped the stain, used the Mineral Spirits and lightly sanded it.

You can see the bare table legs, just screaming to be stained a rich espresso color!

Here comes the fun part, the color! With a foam brush, paint on the stain and don’t be shy with it! I chose to go with a gel stain, simply because it was the only stain that offered the color we needed. After you paint the stain on, its time to wipe it all off! Well, the excess at least. Repeat this process as many times as necessary to get the desired color. For me, I only needed to repeat it twice!


The final step is to seal the table, so it will withstand the everyday uses. I chose a satin stain to match the bar stools. Make sure that your stain has had enough time to fully dry before you seal it, otherwise you run the risk of the sealer bubbling and ruining the stain.

Check out the final product!


Here is the finished product in our basement!


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