This dining table makeover with chalk and spray paint did not require sanding first! Although it wasn’t a quick process, it was easy, and months later the finish looks just as good as it did on day one.
When we were first married we lived in a tiny rental house. There was barely enough space for a dining table at all. We found a small round table with two chairs that would fit in the spot, but high quality it was not. It came in a box with some poorly written instructions and a bag of screws, if that gives you any idea. It served it’s purpose though and really we very rarely ate at the table anyway.
Fast forward a few years and we bought the house that we currently live in. We were fortunate enough to be able to upgrade to a nicer quality dining table when we moved. One that we actually needed delivered because it was already assembled! And one that had more seating to fit our growing family.
The benefits of having a quality piece of furniture are obvious. The downside is that when the look no longer fits your style, you can hardly justify replacing it with something new. This is where I was at with the table more than 10 years later when we replaced the floors in our dining room. The dark wood tone of our new floors really highlighted the red undertones of our table. I considered buying a rug to breakup it up, but the thought of a rug under the dining table with 3 kids did not sound like the best idea.
In addition to the clashing wood tones, there were a couple of small worn spots on the top of the table after years of serving as our eating space and the kids play table. I lived with it for about a year after we replaced the floors until one afternoon on a whim I decided I coudn’t take it anymore. I drug the table out onto the deck and began the makeover.
Sanding and restaining the table top is a process worthy of its own post. There are lots of great tutorials out there on how to refinish a table top with stain (which does require sanding) so I’m not going to cover that here. What I’d like to detail is the process of painting the chairs and base of the table.
The entire process was a little bit of trial and error. I will detail below what worked and what didn’t. Ultimately I loved the end result, but if I would have known then what I know now it certainly would have been a quicker project. Let’s start with the before picture:
- Chalk paint (I used Americana Decor Chalky Finish Paint in Lace)
- Spray paint (I used Rustoleum American Accents 2X Ultra Cover in Heirloom White Satin Finish)
- Foam brushes in various sizes (smaller brushes for spindles and corners, larger brushes for backs and legs)
- Protective top coat (I used Americana Decor Soft-Touch Varnish)
The first step to this process is to give your chairs and table a good cleaning. A degreasing type cleaner works well to give the best chance of the paint really adhering to the wood. Be sure to scrub every nook and cranny and deep into all the corners. These are the spaces that often harbor dust and dirt since they are harder to reach during your everyday cleaning process.
If you’re like me, this is the worst part. I just want to get started and see that first swipe of paint begin to transform the table! However, it’s well worth it to resist the urge to only do a quick wipe down. Instead turn on your favorite tunes and settle in, knowing that your patience (and hand cramps!) will pay off in the end when your made over table looks like you bought it that way and not like it had an obvious paint job.
First Step: Chalk Paint
After thoroughly cleaning, it’s time to apply the paint. I began with the chalk paint and it took about 4 coats to get the coverage I wanted. In hindsight, I wish I would have applied the spray paint after I had applied the first coat or two of chalk paint. There are two reasons for this. One is that it was difficult to get the paint in corners without leaving little globs of paint. The second is that I wasn’t going for a weathered look so I wanted the paint to give full coverage. If I had done a couple of coats of spray paint after a coat or two of chalk paint I think it would have gone faster and I probably could have gotten away with only 2 or 3 coats of paint.
As far as painting with the chalk paint, there was nothing particularly difficult about the process. It was just very time consuming. If I could have cut down the number of coats required by spray painting sooner that would have saved a lot of time (and more hand cramps, and knee pain from all the time kneeling on the floor, and stiff neck muscles….okay, I’ll quit complaining now).
The process I used for applying the chalkpaint was to load the top 1/4 of a foam brush with a moderate amount of paint and then dot the paint along the section I was about to paint. Then I would paint back and forth, in the direction of the wood grain, until I had even coverage. I followed this process for each individual section of the chair and the base of the table. I repeated this process, letting the paint dry thoroughly between coats, until I had close to the coverage I wanted.
Second Step: Spray Paint
Once the coverage was about where I wanted it, I finished off the process with a couple of coats of spray paint. Using a combination of chalk and spray paint can get a little tricky depending on the color you’re using. I was fortunate enough to find two colors that were a very close match and therefore blended together seamlessly. I would probably only recommend using a combination of chalk and spray paint in this manner if you are using a basic color such as white, black or gray.
It only took a couple of coats to really fill in and give the wood the remainder of the coverage it needed. Overall it was a pretty quick process.
Final Step: Protective Coat
I debated on whether to apply a protective coat of polyurethane or wax. Polyurethane can sometimes make a white finish start to yellow over time and I didn’t want to take the chance of that happening. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure the wax would be durable enough for the everyday use this table would get. Ultimately, I decided to take my chances on the wax but when I went to buy it I stumbled across this Soft-Touch Varnish.
The varnish was made to be used with the Americana Decor Chalky Finish Paint. The product description said it provided “superior durability”, a “durable, polyurethane finish”, was “scratch & scuff resitant” and was “resistant to household cleaning chemicals”. It sounded perfect!
The varnish was a dream to apply. In contrast, polyurethane, although a great product, can be a slow and tedious process. You have to apply light coats and go slow to avoid creating bubbles. By this point in the process I was done with slow and tedious. To apply the varnish I just used a foam brush to cover every square inch of the chairs and table base. I decided to go with two coats to be sure the finish was as durable as possible.
It has been several months since the makeover and the finish looks just as good as it did immediately after painting. There has not been one scratch to the paint and there haven’t been any smudges or stains that haven’t easily wiped away.
In the end even though using the combination of chalk paint, spray paint, and varnish was not quick by any means, it was an easy process and provided a durable finish. I will definitely use this process when I refinish the table again in another 10 years!