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Modern Furniture Refinishing

Would you like to refinish a wood table like a pro? Then you will want to follow along to learn more about Modern Furniture Refinishing.

Updated post from October 8, 2017


modern furniture refinishing 2.1 shows a completed refinished and painted kitchen table


Difficulty rating: easy to moderate  

Time Required: 2-3 days for drying time

A few years back, I refinished my kitchen table, and wrote about it here. I have to admit, I had never used polyurethane on a kitchen table.

Well, as you can see from the image below, it did not hold up well. Since I regularly use placemats on my table, the table had yellowed underneath the placemats. This started a few months after the refinishing project. I was not happy!!!

modern furniture refinishing 4.1 shows the yellowing the polyurethane finish left on the table

Let me reiterate my story from October of 2017:

  • I recently took a look at my wooden kitchen table and realized it was time for an update or upgrade. It is a sturdy set that is just the right dimensions for my kitchen. The chairs seemed to still be in pretty good condition, so I decided to go with an update. I had refinished furniture before, but mostly by stripping down the original finish and refinishing with a stain and polyurethane. This project was going to be a little bit different.  I have a bar with a light-colored stained top and chair bottoms with cream-color paint everywhere else. I wanted to attempt to match my table to that bar set.

Needless to say, the polyurethane was not the way to go. I have since learned that polycrylic is a better choice to avoid yellowing. However, this is not the easiest product to work with.


  • It is very important when applying the polycrylic to work in one direction and sand in between applications.
  • Polycrylic dries fast (within minutes), requiring you to work very quickly.
  • If you follow the instructions on the can, it is very difficult to avoid ending up with streaks in your finished project.


  • Drop cloth
  • Steel wool – to take down the finish on the table
  • Sandpaper– for all other sanding work
  • Paint tray
  • Paint roller and brush – mine had a textured finish
  • Flat latex paint
  • Paper towels
  • Disposable gloves
  • Polycrylic

modern furniture refinishing 3.1 shows the supplies used including drop cloth, paint tray with roller, paint, sand paper, polycrylic and paper towels


Step One:

It is best to take your table to the garage for this project since painting with a roller can produce little spots of paint. Spread out your drop cloth on the floor, and ensure that nothing is within a few feet on all sides of your project.

Using the steel wool (one in each hand) in a circular motion, go around the table several times to rough up the finish on the table.  If you are removing the finish from a table that has not previously been painted, I would use one piece of steel wool and move in a back and forth motion, going with the grain of the wood. Do not sand so well that you start removing the color of the stain unless that is what you want to do.

modern furniture refinishing 5.1 shows sanding the table with steel wood

Using slightly damp paper towels, remove the sanded residue from the table. Let this dry for at least 30 minutes before moving on to the painting.

Step Two:

Using a flat latex paint, fill the paint tray with a good amount of paint (especially if you are mixing colors because it is really hard to remix the same color if you run out). My table is 3’ x 4’, and I started out with about ½ quart of paint in the tray. It is also possible to use paint that you have on hand which is what I did. But flat is better since you want the polycrylic to stick well.

I used a textured roller to roll on the paint. This helps to hide any imperfections in the wood. Just dip the roller in some paint, and use the ridged upper edge of the tray to work back and forth to get the paint evenly on the roller before rolling on the table. Go in the direction of the wood, covering the whole top and edges if desired. Let this dry overnight before moving on to Step Three.

NOTES: It is a good idea to save any paint if you mixed different colors just in case you need to do any touch-ups in the future. Just store it in a glass jar that you mark so you can identify it.

modern furniture refinishing 6.1 shows the table right after applying the latex paint

This shows the end result from using a textured roller to apply the paint

Step Three:

Using a fine-grade sandpaper, lightly sand the painted table to ensure the polycrylic adheres. Using a slightly damp paper towel, remove any residue. Let dry for at least 30 minutes.

Before applying the polycrylic, stir it to blend—do not shake it. Also, protect your hand with a glove.

Pour about 1/3 cup of polycrylic in a long streak on one side of the top of the table. Using a warm slightly-damp paper towel, quickly spread the polycylic over half of the table. Be sure to go in straight strokes—no curving or arching. Move to the other side of the table and repeat this process. It all needs to be completed in less than 5 minutes because you do not have much time before it starts to set up.

Allow at least two hours of dry time before repeating Step 3. You will probably need at least three coats to complete the project.

Important Notes:

The polycrylic advises using a brush for application. I did this for three coats and found unsightly brush strokes in the finished product. After some research, I found that others had the same issue. However, when I used a slightly damp warm paper towel for application, working very quickly, the streaks were not an issue. Just be sure to use a glove on your hand to avoid the product.

You will want to let your table dry overnight before use.

modern furniture refinishing 7.1 shows how the table looks in my kitchen


I hope this information has provided you with some insight on Modern Furniture Refinishing.  For other painting projects, check out my posts on How to Repaint Furniture for your Patio and DIY Painted Jean Jacket.

Need more project inspiration? Check out these great ideas:

Unique Creations by Anita, How to Repurpose a Piano into a Bar

Optimized Life, DIY Backyard Makeover Using What you Have

French Blue Cottage, Trash to Treasurer: The Easiest DIY Chair Planter

I have been cooking, gardening and DIY/crafting for years to Inspire a Creation.




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Monday 22nd of January 2018

A perfect weekend project

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