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This French provincial table was purchased in poor condition and needed a lot of love to get back to useable condition. We initially wanted to use a simple stain on the top, but the quality of the wood once sanded was not as pretty as we would have liked. So we used a stain-over-paint technique to give it a similar feel.
We used a screwdriver to take off the legs of the table so that we could maneuver each piece easily to sand them down. We started with the tabletop first.
We started with an 80-grit sanding disk on our orbital sander to get rid of the grime on top and the stain underneath. The veneer on top was thinning in some areas and we went a little deeper than we had hoped.
To fix these spots, we attempted to use a technique in which you place wood glue on the area and sand while the glue is wet. This allows the dust particles to mix in and it will create a natural wood putty that matches the type of wood being used. We felt that this technique didn't work as well on a table top as we would have liked. Instead, we recommend using this technique to fill in cracks, such as when gluing boards together.
Lesson learned: use wood putty on veneer and sand it off once dried to create an even and level surface.
To get a soft and smooth surface, start with 80-grit sandpaper and move to 120-grit, then 220-grit. Skipping through these steps will not give you as good of a finish. Spend the time doing it now and you'll be thankful in the end.
Next, we used 80-grit sandpaper to sand the edges by hand. We don't have a picture of these process, but you can see the fully sanded top portion below.
Follow the same sanding steps below by moving from 80 to 120 to 220-grit sanding around the edges.
Unfortunately, we don't have any pictures of the legs during the process of sanding.
Since we knew we would be painting the legs from the beginning, we chose not to sand them down to the wood because of the shape and the spiral at the bottom. Instead, we used a 120-grit to sand off any grime that was there and then used a light 220-grit to smooth out the surface.
Once all the sanding is complete, we used a shop vac to clean up the dust hidden in any cracks and used mineral spirits and a cloth to wipe away the dust on the flat surfaces. Let it full dry before moving to the next step.
Note: You can use any kind of vacuum with a brush to clean this up if you don't have a shop vac.
Since we tried to stain the top and disliked it, it was time to move on to plan B for our project. We ended up painting the top and the legs with multiple coats of paint. Because of the paint we used, we felt that we did not need a primer. We don't typically use a chalk paint, but it worked out perfect for the look we wanted for this piece.
Pro tip: You can use a 220-grit sanding in between coats of paint to smooth out any dust that might get in the paint between coats. It helps to create a perfectly smooth finish. Wipe the dust off before applying the next coat of paint.
We used a stain-over-paint technique to create a faux wood grain feel with stain colors. We love this technique when the typical staining process isn't an option because we love the tones that stains have and the contrast between the stains and the paints. You can see another stain-over-paint piece we've done here for more ideas.
We started by applying two coats of special walnut stain. We felt that this made the top appear as if it were dirty and we didn't like it as much as we hoped. It was time for plan C lol. We began moving forward with this plan by adding on a Classic Grey stain on top of the current stain. We alternated with grey and ... stains until we got the desired effect.
Be mindful that stain over paint takes much longer to dry than what the instructions on the can typically state. Applying stain over paint tends to leave a very tacky finish until fully dry. Be patient, even when it's hard.
The pictures above are the ... stain and the grey stain blend. We used a 220-grit sanding between coats to smooth out the finish. Once we were happy with the color, we used a 120-grit sanding to add distress marks as we wanted this piece to have a rustic feel.
Lesson learned: We didn't realize until after the staining was done that our strokes near the middle had a curve to them. In hindsight, we wish that we had taken out the table leaf and done it separately in order to get smooth strokes. However, we did appreciate that the colors blended smoothly across the top. Maybe we just need to grow longer arms...and we, means Sydney needs to grow longer arms lol.
Wipe the table clean after sanding and attach the legs again. Now, you are ready for the next step.
We used the same paint that was used on the top to paint the legs and base of the table. We had to use about 4 coats of white paint on this part to get a smooth finish that we were hoping for. Unfortunately, we don't have pictures of this step.
We're almost to the end now :)
The last step was to apply a finish. On kitchen tables we typically like to use polyurethane as a finish because of its durability. However, we chose to use polycryclic because it still provides a strong finish but it does not turn yellow on white paint because it is water-based instead of oil-based.
We use the same process with sanding here as we do with the paint. Allow the finish to dry. Then, use a 220-grit sanding between coats. Wipe off the dust before applying the next coat of finish. We applied about 4-5 coats on the top and about 3 coats on the legs. This was based on the appearance we wanted and the durability the table would need for daily use on the top.
Note: Polycrylic tends to appear as a semi-gloss finish, but some of our photos give it a shiny appearance due to the time of day the photos were taken outside.
It's important to let the final finish fully cure before use. This table was sold within 2 days of being listed. We recommended that the family allow it to sit for 1-2 weeks before using it heavily.
Josh and Sydney are life adventurers that love to learn and create. We are exact opposites and enjoy gaining new perspective. Our home is where our varying personalities shine, and we use it to gather our friends and family together.