DIY Network

How To Refinish A Table

Follow these steps to strip the old finish from your furniture, clean the piece, then apply a beautiful new stain and finish.

More in Decorating

rub finish with grain of wood
  • Time


  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate


Step 1: Strip off old finish

After stripping the finish from a table or other piece of furniture, sand it smooth and clean it with mineral spirits or a paint-removal wash.

Mineral spirits will remove dirt, grease and fingerprints and will help reveal imperfections in the wood. Don’t place metal on the wood while cleaning it; it could react with the chemicals in the wood and cause discoloration.

clean with mineral spirits or paint removal wash

Step 2: Stain furniture

When the mineral spirits dries, begin staining the furniture. Use fine-grade steel wool to brush the stain into the wood. Brush the stain in a zigzag pattern to prevent brush marks that show where the stain was applied.

Step 3: Buff the stain

Buff the stain from the wood within a minute or two after applying it so the stain soaks in evenly. A helper following with a buffing rag as you apply the stain may be helpful. If staining table legs, wipe off the stain immediately after applying it; legs can absorb stain very quickly.

Step 4: Finish the furniture

Allow the stain to dry for 24 hours before applying a finish. There are a variety of different finishes, including polyurethane and tung oil. Rub the finish with the grain of the wood, and allow it to dry properly between coats.