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.

Was this project helpful?

Don't forget: Read comments and leave your own





Sign in

All fields are required.

E-mail Address:


Remember me on this computer

Signing in

Please enter your email address and we will send your password

E-mail Address

Your password has been sent and should arrive in your mailbox very soon.

Not a member?

Sign up with DIY Network to share tips with other do-it-yourselfers and comment and ask questions on projects.

It's free and easy.