Furniture Paint 101: How To Paint a Dining Room Table

Furniture paint comes in handy when you want to refurbish pieces that are still in good form, but need a bit of finessing due to stains, cracks, or wear and tear.

 How To Paint a Dining Room Table

Today we go through the steps to show you a DIY painted dining room table, before and after included, so that you can learn how to paint furniture easily yourself. Read on, and get your DIY on.

Painted Furniture: Step-by-Step Tutorial On Painting a Table

Step 1: Prep your furniture for painting

Painted Furniture: Step-by-Step Tutorial On Painting a Table

Wash down all surfaces of your table with all-purpose cleaner to get ready for your painted furniture. 

Be sure to wash the inside edges of the leaf and the table, where they touch.

Step 2: Sand your furniture

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Grab some fine to medium sandpaper, such as 120-grit. 

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Sand the inside (touching) edges of the leaf and the table.

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Use the 120-grit sandpaper to sand the entire surface of the table as well.

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Your table should be largely matte at this point, having sanded off much of the previous finish. 

Note: Don’t worry about going all the way through all the paint and finish, though, since you’re going to be painting it again. 

You just want the surface cleared and roughed up enough that primer will stick to it later.

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Wipe off all the sanding dust.

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Now it’s time to give everything a finishing sanding before moving onto the leaf-attachment step. 

Take some fine sandpaper, such as 220-grit.

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Place the leaf back in the table temporarily, and sand the pieces together as one piece.

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Wipe all sanding dust away thoroughly, including a clean swipe of the inside edges of the leaf and tabletop.

Step 3: Time to use wood glue

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Take some wood glue.  

Pro Tip: Gorilla Glue Wood Glue is great to use here.

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Run a decent-sized bead of wood glue along the inside edge of your table. 

Don’t do so much that it’ll squeeze out significantly, but do enough that it’ll help hold in place.

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Place the leaf into place, and slide it up to the glued inside edge of the table.

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Press the two edges together firmly. Repeat on the other side of the leaf.

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Press the second edges together firmly as well. 

Your table should now be squeezed together as tightly as the leaf will allow. Wipe away any excess wood glue, if necessary, at this point. 

Much easier to do it now while the glue is wet.

Step 4: Place your brackets

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In order to solidify the tabletop attachment, we’re going to be adding metal brackets to the underside of the tabletop. 

Opt for a couple of long, straight brackets that will reach onto either side of the leaf and attach to both sides of the table as well.

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Take some 3/4″ wood screws.

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Double-check that these screws are short enough to avoid puncturing through the tabletop when screwed in from the bottom.

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Make yourself comfortable under the table with the box of screws, your drill, and your bracket all within easy reach. 

Line up your bracket so that none of the screw holes hits the crack between the leaf and table, if at all possible.

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Place a screw onto one end of the bracket that’s on the tabletop side (as opposed to screwing into the leaf).

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Before screwing in the second screw, which should be placed onto the other side of the bracket (across the leaf on the other side of the table), pull the table together as tightly as you can. 

Attach your bracket at the opposite end, then fill in the screw holes all the way down both table ends and the leaf.

Note: You may need to hook your feet around the table legs and your hands around the upper table legs, if you don’t have someone to help you. You really want these table joints to be as tight and square as possible. 

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Shift under the table to the other half of the table, where you’ll need to install a second bracket. 

Figure out the best place for it.

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Repeat the steps of bracket installation. 

Attach to one end of the table, pull the table tightly together, then attach bracket to the opposite end of the table, then fill in the rest of the screws.

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You’ll notice that your table probably looks, from the top, exactly the same as it did before.

Step 5: Time for wood putty

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Take some wood putty.

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Follow the directions on the container to mix the powder with water–. 3:1 ratio. 

Stir it together with a disposable spoon or popsicle stick. 

Pro Tip: You’ll want to end up with a substance that is just slightly less sticky than peanut butter.

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Use a putty knife to press the putty into the crack on your table.

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Use the putty knife to also smooth out the putty and scrape away excess.

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Work the putty into the side cracks and crevices as well, then use a toothpick (or whatever) to scrape away extra putty. 

Note: This is an instance where sanding, later on, would be difficult, if not impossible, so you’ll want to make these lines as smooth as possible while the putty is malleable.

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You’ll have to work fast, because this putty sets up relatively quickly. 

Let the putty dry completely.

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Step 6: Sand the wood putty

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When the putty is dry, sand with 120-grit sandpaper. This step is so rewarding!

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After you wipe away the sanding dust, you’re going to be amazed at how smooth the transition is between the putty and the actual tabletop. 

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If there are places that are uneven, though, or that you might have missed, go ahead and do a second layer of putty.

 Let it dry completely, then sand again.

Step 7: Time to prime your to-be chalk painted furniture

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After you’ve wiped away all the sand dust with a damp cloth, it’s time to prime your table. 

Pro Tip: Zinsser water-based primer is a great option, because it doesn’t smell as much as the oil-based primer.

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Work the primer into all cracks, if your table has some decorative crevices, and corners. Don’t overbrush. 

Note: What that means is, once you’ve placed your primer (or, later, your paint or sealer), don’t go back over it with the brush unless absolutely necessary, because it starts to “settle” right away. 

If you do, it will leave deeper and more noticeable brush strokes than if you just leave it alone after the first pass.

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Let the primer dry thoroughly.

Step 7: Sand down to get ready to paint furniture

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Lightly sand the first primer coat with fine (220-grit) sandpaper.

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Be sure to follow along your sanding path with your other hand, because your touch will be more telling as to the primer coat’s smoothness than your eyes. 

Primer streaks might look uneven, but when you feel them, they might be smooth as can be. 

You don’t want to keep sanding these parts, or you’ll work your way all the way through the primer for no reason.

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Wipe away sanding dust.

Step 8: Apply a second coat of primer

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Apply a second coat of primer. 

Note: You don’t have to do this step, of course, but we I like to and here’s why: Paint will “take” differently to primer than to other surfaces. 

If there are some parts on your table that, for whatever reason, got the primer sanded off too much, these spots will likely look different when paint is applied

Let the second coat of primer dry, and sand again lightly with 220-grit sandpaper.

Step 9: Time to paint furniture

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It’s time now to paint. 

You can use:

  • (1) use a high-density foam roller, 
  • (2) use a regular roller, or
  • (3) use a paintbrush.

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Work in small patches, and the paint will settle neatly.

Then move quickly onto a next section, rolling aother one-roller-wide strip down the width of the table (just to apply the paint) and brushing it in long, even, parallel strokes before it has a chance to settle. 

Note: The key is being intentional and very, very fast at this.

 If you wait even 5-10 seconds too long before brushing the rolled paint, the rolled paint will begin to settle and will sort of clump up when you go to brush it. 

Paint the table legs and everywhere else with the paintbrush, keeping strokes running smoothly along with the “grain” of the wood (even if it’s fake wood, and even if you can’t see the grain).

Step 10: Sand lightly over the dried furniture painting

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After the coat of paint has dried thoroughly and the surface is not at all tacky, sand lightly with 220-grit sandpaper. 

Note: It’s important to wait until it’s completely dry; if you try to sand or paint on top of a coat of paint that hasn’t dried, it will gum up or stay tacky forever. 

Neither of these are desirable outcomes for your painted dining table, so be patient and let it truly dry before sanding.

Step 11: Place the second coat of paint for the furniture

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Sanding will eliminate some of your brush strokes, and it will leave the surface looking matte and maybe speckled. 

That’s okay, as long as the surface feels beautifully flat to your touch. 

Wipe off all sanding dust, and repeat the painting process

Step 12: Place your finish and sealer on the painted dining room table 

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After your final coat of paint has dried completely, it’s time to seal up your dining table. 

Note: The best You may wonder what’s the best type of sealer for a high-traffic piece like the dining table. In my experience, water-based MinwaxPolycrylic works the best. 

It doesn’t yellow, it goes on smoothly, and when it cures completely, the surface underneath is very protected.

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You’ll apply this sealer with your paintbrush. 

Apply it with brush strokes running in the same direction. 

Note: If you have to pick up your paintbrush in the middle of a stroke, try to place your paintbrush down at the opposite end of your stroke and brush inward to where you originally picked up.

This will help in painting the dining table.

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After you’ve applied this clear coat to all surfaces (including the legs and sides and top), walk around the entire dining table twice more, keeping your eyes peeled for anyplace there might be drips. 

As careful as we all are while painting, there will likely be a place or two where the paint has begun to run or drip. 

Brush these drips out (with just a slightly damp paintbrush; don’t add more polycrylic for this step) while they’re still wet to make your life easier in the long run. 

Follow the directions on your polycrylic can; basically, let your clear coat dry thoroughly (about 4 hours), then lightly sand with 220-grit sandpaper, wipe off sanding dust, then apply another coat. 

Repeat this process for two or three coats (three is recommended), but don’t sand the final coat.

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When all is said and done, you should end up with a beautifully finished piece of painted furniture: your dining table. It’ll feel awesome to see the painted dining table before and after!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What is the best paint to use for wood furniture?

The best paint for furniture is a semi-gloss or satin finish. It could be a latex or an oil-based paint.
You can also consider spray painting furniture, but spray paint furniture isn’t as long-lasting.

What kind of paint can you use on furniture without sanding?

Chalk paint on furniture without sanding is the way to go. Chalk paint furniture doesn’t require sanding and gives a truly beautiful matte finish that will wow everyone. This type of paint can work on antique painted furniture, for ikea furniture painting, and even for painting wicker furniture.

How do you paint furniture without sanding or priming?

If you’re wondering how to paint furniture without sanding or priming, know you have options. You can use chalk furniture paint which wil live a nice matte finish. You can also use mineral paint for furniture paint colors. Another option is using spray paint for wood furniture.

What should you paint furniture with?

You should consider the best chalk paint for furniture, especially for wooden pieces.

Can you use any paint on furniture?

No, when it comes to furniture paintings, it is important to use specific paint types according to the material type and surface that you’re dealing with.

Is there paint for furniture?

There are many different types of paints for furniture. You should research which is the best furniture paint for your job.

What kind of paint do you use for furniture?

To paint furniture you should use milk paint, mineral paint, chalk paint or spray paint. It varies on the furniture material.

Is Furniture and wall paint the same?

No, furniture and wall paint isn’t the same. These are different classes of paint and shouldn’t be the same. You can find furniture paint at lowes or ask an expert for help to learn more.

Dining Table Painting: Conclusion

So, there you have it– A complete guide on how to paint furniture, specifically, how to chalk paint furniture. We hope you’ve found this tutorial on painting wood furniture piece to be useful and helpful.

Happy painting.