Kitchen tables get hammered over time. Whether you have little kids digging in their forks into the table, or just host of dinners with platters scraping the top, the table gets abused. Eventually, most DIYers think of repainting their kitchen table. It is cheaper than purchasing a new table, and the best part: you get to make it exactly how you want it!

Painting a kitchen or dining table isn’t much more difficult than painting any other piece of furniture, but if you don’t know what you are doing, it can turn into a big mess. Before you begin your table makeover, remember the main concern of repainting a table is to make it durable. Kitchen tables take more wear and tear than your average dresser or bookshelf. And who wants to spend hours of work, to see chipped paint a week later?   

Here are five the most common mistakes people make painting a kitchen table:

DIY Painted Furniture whitewash table

#7- Not Sanding Enough

You don’t need to sand off all of the stains, however, you do need your new paint to adhere to a rough surface.  Sand enough until you have a rough surface and can see no glossy finish. When I sand a table, I use this Black and Decker sander.  Not only does it take a 4-hour job and turn it into a 30-minute job, but this sander also has a pointed side to get into the grooves of legs and edges.  I love mine and for less than $50 consider it a must for any DIYer.

If you don’t take time to get everything sanded, including those beautiful table legs, you will end up with: paint peeling off, uneven surfaced, and possibly stain yellowing your new paint.

sanding table DIY wood furniture

Start sanding with a 80+ grit sandpaper, then move to  120-180 grit. Your table will feel smooth enough at this point, but it isn’t. The legs are probably fine at this point, but the surface where your elbow and hands will rub, you need it even softer.  Sand it at least one more time with 200+ grit. You will be in love with the feel of this tabletop after that 200 grit. It makes a world of difference! If you are staining your tabletop, do one more layer of 250-300.  

#6- Not Using Primer Correctly

Before you apply your paint that you must have at least one coat of primer or shellac-based primer.   Shellac is used when you are covering a stained wood with paint. It helps keep the stain in and prevents future yellowing.  Primer is used when the wood is bare. Make sure you use water-based primer for latex and oil-based primer for oil-based paint or oil-based stain.

One trick I use to cut my time in half is to use spraying primer, instead of brushing it on.  Some hardware stores sell these, while others don’t. #5- Applying your Paint with a Brush

Keep the brush just for decorative legs, please.  A paint sprayer will give you the most even coat possible.  It also gives you thinner coats which helps your table be more durable.  I am NOT suggesting you use spray paint out of a can. A paint sprayer uses paint from a can.  If you don’t want to invest in one (they cost about $40), then use a roller. Rollers can cover more surfaces than a brush, with fewer stroke lines.  Pick roller paint

#4- Forgetting Floetrol

Flotrol is a must if you are painting your table with latex.  If you are staining it, skip this one.

table makeover blue

#3-Applying Too Few Coats of Paint

If you are going to be painting with water-based paint, I would do at least 3, maybe even 4 coats of paint to the top of the table.  With a dresser, 2 coats are enough, but with a kitchen table, you’ll need that extra protection and durability. Remember those coats should not be thick.

 Thick paint tends to chip more than multiple thin layers. Take your time to get your table done right. I love using my paint sprayer, instead of a brush because of its ability to distribute thin coats easily.  

gray kitchen table DIY Painted Furniture

#2 The Clear Coat

I am constantly needing to pull out the magic eraser on my painted table to scrub off stains from food, crayons, etc.  The magic eraser works great but it pulls a little bit of paint off every time. Make sure you have done 4-5 coats of clear coat on your table.  This is where you really will make your hard work last. You need to do at least 3 or more coats of a clear coat. I prefer Rust-Oleum 200041H Water-Based Poleurethane, 1-Quart, Gloss Finish""“>Fast Drying Polyurethane Clear Gloss . Sand it down with 250 grit sandpaper with each layer to maintain a smooth finish.

For tips on whitewashing your table for this look check out this article: How to Whitewash Furniture Wood.

#1-Not letting it Cure

My sister had her kitchen table and chairs painted by a professional, but even they made this horrible mistake.  The furniture felt dry to the touch so we all sat around admiring the beautiful table and enjoyed a great meal. After dinner, we all stood up and saw that the table now had rings where all the plates sat.  The chairs were now textured with the pattern of everyone’s pants. The bumpy jean texture on new chairs is not what my sister had in mind. Follow the instructions on your paint can and allow the furniture to completely cure.  This usually takes 5-8 days! This mistake is often overlooked.

And as oil-based don’t make mistake #8 of repainting a table during a season where temperatures are below 50 degrees, not only do you need the temperature to help cure the paint, but you need to be able to open up the doors and let out the smell of these paints.

Need some inspiration?  Check out these beautiful makeovers: Top 10 Kitchen Table Transformations.  If you have any questions please comment below, I love to hear from my readers!

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Learn how to paint your kitchen table correctly. Avoid these major mistakes while remodeling your kitchen!
Learn how to paint your kitchen table correctly. Avoid these major mistakes while remodeling your kitchen!

Learn how to paint your kitchen table correctly. Avoid these major mistakes while remodeling your kitchen!
Learn how to paint your kitchen table correctly. Avoid these major mistakes while remodeling your kitchen!