I want to share with you what I did to transform my dining room table. This was a major amount of work but oh so worth it!! This table was a total disaster before I started. It was in really rough shape with lots of water marks and damage.
The above photo is what it looked like once I washed down all the dust and grime. I cleaned it with Krud Kutter first. And then I cleaned it with a mix of denatured alcohol and water. That acts as a rinse.
I sanded it all down first with an electric sander. Click here on my affiliate link for a great sander. I started out with a rougher paper (80) and then moved on to 220. It is beautiful sanding because you can see the transformation as you are sanding as the grain pops through and shows such beauty. Here is a photo below of the table as I am sanding. See the grain?
Once I got it all sanded I brushed off all the dust with an old, large paint brush I specifically use for dusting. After dusting off with the brush I used a damp cloth to get more of the dust. Also I used a mix of denatured alcohol and water. Once that dried I used tack cloth to get off all the rest of the dust. You can use warm water on a blue shop towel for cleaning too. I find the tack cloths works faster. You can buy them at Home Depot.
For the staining I used General Finishes java gel stain. I love the gel stains as they are so easy to use and always look good. I apply the gel stain with a foam brush and a white staining pad. You can purchase the staining pads from the Woodcraft stores. The foam brushes you can get anywhere but I do buy higher quality ones from Woodcraft. I just throw these items away when I am done with all the staining. You can also wrap a knee high on the pad for smooth application. The knee highs work great to keep any lint away.
In between the staining I wait at least 24 hrs. before applying a new coat. It is 24-48 hrs drying time between staining coats. I think I put on 2 coats of stain on this table, maybe it was 3. Just see how the color looks. Read all your cans though about drying time. It is very important to follow the instructions on the cans.
Because this was a dining room table I wanted extra protection for the sealant so I used the general finishes gel topcoat wipe on urethane. But make sure the stain sits and dries for up to 48 hrs before applying the oil sealer. It is oil based and is more durable and harder than using a water based sealer. I used 4 coats of sealant for this table. If you are working on a high traffic piece then I would use the gel stain sealer. You can use the HP topcoat but it won't be as durable and you will need more coats. If you are applying a water based sealer (like the HP topcoat) then you have to wait 72 hrs before applying it to the stained top.
This sealant goes on wonderfully. I recommend the terry cloth staining pads. They work great for applying the stain. Over the pads though I do use a knee high just to give me extra smoothness in laying it down. You can also use the foam brushes but a staining pad is better to use on large areas like table tops.
The rest of the table was painted in paris gray chalk paint and sealed with AS clear wax. Then I added gold gilding wax for extra bling. And all done!
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More photo's of my work are in the Gallery.