How Im Using a $13 Wood Stain to Bring My Table Back to Life

In our house we have two dine-in eating areas, one smaller breakfast table off of the kitchen and a formal dinning room downstairs. Besides holidays and special occasions, the formal dinning room stays off limits to the kids and is more for looks than anything else. Daily meals and snacks are eaten normally at the breakfast table in the kitchen so our everyday table sees the most action and consequently, takes a major beating by the kids.

Originally a $25 thrifted find, our breakfast table is a heavy, round table that seats 4 comfortably. I love the design of the table because it is made out of solid wood and it has a really intricate design on the leg stand that is really pretty. I found the table on Facebook Marketplace a little over 3 years ago and I immediately jumped into repainting it to match my style. Because it is solid wood and it was in good condition, I left the top of the table in the original cherry wood stain finish and I painted the leg of the table in white chalk paint to match with the rest of the house.

While it's been great having the additional eating space for the family over the years, the kids have really beaten the hell out of the table. Scratches, scuff marks, dings, random stains- lets just say the table looked 20x better when we first bought it and no amount of scrubbing had it looking brand new again.

To give the table a new life, I decided to re-stain the table top using my favorite gel stain by Minwax in the color coffee . In all of the DIY projects that I've done through the years, I have used a lot of stain products. I really like this gel product more than traditional stain because of how easy it is to use and how well it covers. Normally, wood stain is really runny and messy, but this gel texture isn't. Also, it can often be hard to figure out how much stain to use to get the wood finish you are looking for with traditional stain. With a gel based stain, the product is thicker so you will use less product and have more control over the stain you apply. The Minewax stain is also self leveling and doesn't require pre-sanding due to its thick texture which cuts your prep time down to like nothing.

To start, I cleared off my table and gave it a good scrubbing. You will want to make sure whatever you are staining is really clean to make sure the product applies cleanly and evenly. After cleaning the surface with a Mr. Clean Eraser, I started applying thin coats of the stain with a medium size foam brush similar to these

When applying a gel based stain, the brush you use will really depend on what surface area you are covering. Because my table is not very big, a foam brush worked perfectly fine. If you are covering a larger piece than mine, you should consider using a foam roller instead. Alternatively, you can also use an old wash rag or an old sock for more control.

To get the BEST finish (and make sure your work will last), applying thin coats of this product is best. If you apply too much stain at one time, your surface will not dry evenly and your end result will look thick and goopy. Though it does not take long, I suggest really taking your time. If you need additional coats of stain for coverage, make sure you let the piece dry for several hours BEFORE you add another coat. Do not worry if your coats of stain do not appear to be even. The gel stain has the ability to really level itself out upon drying. Let the surface REALLY dry before deciding to add more. Remember, you can always add more if needed.

After I allowed the table to dry for about 3 hours (and watched it like a hawk so the kids wouldn't touch it), I restyled my table using a new matte black dinning set from Target with white linen napkins and gold napkin rings. The placemats are made from a jute textured weave and I love how they offset the matte black plates. The placemats are also super forgiving of spills or accidents which is nice FYI.

To finish things off, I used a tall, white vase I had that has this matte finish. The vase is a perfect height for a centerpiece because it is tall enough to make a statement without being over the top. I added some exposed natural branches, a natural soy candle and an amber colored jar for the perfect vignette that matched the rest of the decor downstairs. Suddenly, the table went from school lunch room to Pottery Barn style at a fraction of the cost. Because all of my usual favorite stores are closed right now, I had to use decor and supplies I had on hand for this DIY. I think for $13 and about 10 minutes of manual labor and styling, it came out great.

What are some house projects Rona has you inspired (or procrastinating) to complete? Drop some suggestions below!

Until Next Time


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