This is kind of a long story. If you want to read it cause you love me, then feel free to settle into a good DIY tale. If you are just stopping in for the facts, here they are below:
How to Paint a Dining Room Table
- Prep: Sand, degloss, sand some more. Make sure that you do NOT have a slick surface in any way. Dining room tables have a lot of laquer and your paint won’t stick to the surface unless you rough that top up.
- Prime: I like oil based primers. I would have painted on the KILZ but I just happened to have it in spray form. One or two good coats.
- Paint: Paint as many coats to get a nice thick color and let the coats dry about 4 hours in between. Let the paint cure for at least 24 hours before distressing.
- Distress: If you choose to do this step, be careful. Don’t just go all willy-nilly with your sander. In fact, just use a sand bar or sandpaper. The worst thing is to pull up too much paint and then have it look like a giant disaster rather than old and worn.
- Seal: This part is very important! Do at least 5 coats of sealer (polycrylic for white or polyurethane for other colors) and remember that it won’t fully cure for about a month so be careful with the surface.
And now onto the juicy details of which I wish I had more pictures of. But I was seriously so frustrated that why would I take pictures??
Painting the Dining Room Table: A Survivor’s Story
Four words for this project: Pain. In. The. Butt.
When I started painting my dining room table, I’d already successfully painted the TV hutch, two bookcases, four chairs, a train table, and a desk. I thought, ‘no sweat! I’ll do everything just like I did with the others.’ WRONG-O!
So I dragged this baby outside and shined it up real good with my liquid sandpaper (aka deglosser.) Then I got out my sander and went over all the surfaces lightly. That’s usually enough for a solid wood piece.
Well here’s where I made my grave error: I started painting with the paint–not priming first. I didn’t really think of it because I’d used the paint successfully before but I forgot that it didn’t already have primer in it, like the Glidden and Behr brand paints I’d recently purchased. So I spent an hour painting it and I thought I had a good start. A little while later (not long enough though–I’m always so impatient) I took out the sander to sand between coats and BAM! Paint started peeling off like peeling an orange.
I scratched a couple areas and sure enough, the paint peeled off easily, like I’d painted laminate. Did you know that dining room tables have like a million coats of laquer on them? Such that if you don’t sand it off, no latex will stick to it.
Commence the excruciating next 24 hours of me sanding and scraping off ALL the white paint I’d just painted on. Holy cow I wanted to die. I was working in the hot sun, with dust and paint specks flying everywhere, stepping on giant gooey gobs of paint that I’d scraped off by using paint remover. I looked like a chimney sweep after I was done–black smudges all over my face and body. Seriously, awful.
I wouldn’t mind removing paint if I wanted to restore a piece , knowing that an amazing piece lay waiting to be stained. But removing paint that I had just painted hours before was just a sad story. I felt dumb and frustrated. But everyone has fails now and then.
Moving on! After I had sanded it to death, I wiped it down with mineral spirits and then sprayed it with KILZ oil-based primer. That paint is gonna stick, baby! One problem you may run into is that your latex paint might separate from your oil based. If you find this happening, be very careful with distressing. Let your paint cure for longer before distressing.
I painted I think four coats of white paint. After each coat dried I sanded it down with a 220 grit sandpaper, just a little to smooth it down. Then I distressed just a little, on the edges. When I was satisfied, I painted 8, yes EIGHT coats of Minwax polycrylic over the top. And I sanded in between a couple of the coats, but not all. I chose Polycrylic rather than polyurethane because polyurethane can cause yellowing on white paint over time.
Why so many coats, Heidi? Because dining room tables get WORKED, especially mine. They are scrubbed down every day after being covered oatmeal and cheerios, vegetable juice, and whatever else my kids spill.
And now that it’s done I love it. I really do. It looks so much better! Totally worth the hassle.