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Today, I will be sharing my dining table makeover with you all; more specifically I will give you tips on how anyone can stain a table, what products you will need, and I will also reveal the before and after pictures! By the way….this was my very first big DIY project!

As soon as we sold our first dining set, I knew I wanted to purchase a solid wood dining table that was adorned with character and charm. Many people thought I was kinda crazy; I mean, I had sold my new table (that was only about 4 years old) and was replacing it with an older one that was at least two decades old…!

But here’s what led me to do this: my so called new table was in bad condition, with pieces of real marble falling off from the edges; furthermore, the table was counter height and my children were finding it difficult to sit and eat comfortably around it. The chairs were starting to fall apart as well, in fact they needed to be tightened every few weeks or so. With that said, I was totally turned off from buying a “new” dining set ever again because of the lack of quality…and that’s when I decided to buy an older dining set and refinish it.

I actually wanted to sell my dining set for a while, but the not-so-perfect condition of it prevented me from listing it on an online classified site. However, one day I was searching for a solid wood dining set online, and came across this one:

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When my husband and I went to look at the set, I was blown away from the beautiful detail around the edges of the table and the elegant design on the chairs- I mean, you most definitely cannot find this character and charm in any store within distance of where we live! Needless to say, I was sold! We went home that day, and listed our own dining set for sale, and the next day it was out of our home!

Soon after we bought our new dining set home, I started searching YouTube and Google for different methods to refinish a dining set. Originally, my plan was to paint the table and chairs a glossy black, however I decided against this mainly because I didn’t want to excessively cover the gorgeous detail of the dining set. Plan B was to stain the table…and I was still undecided on the chairs…

I moved forward, and started to search for the best products to use to stain a dining table. My search led me to GEL STAINS! Apparently, gel stains are all the rage, and for valid reason too! Gel stains are great, in that they are thicker in consistency- therefore making them easier to work with.

I also found out that applying a gel stain was not that difficult and could even be done with a sock- I know, I thought that was kinda weird too! I decided to use a foam brush and some paper towel instead.

The BIG Day!
Finally, the day was here: the first coat of stain was to go on! I have to admit, I was VERY nervous, but excited! Here are the items I used to tackle this job:

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  • General Finishes Gel-Stain in Java
  • A Paint Stick
  • Sponge and Dish Soap
  • Cloths
  • 120 grit sandpaper
  • Foam Brushes
  • Bristle Brushes
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Paper Towel

Here are the steps to refinishing a dining table using a gel-stain:

1. Clean the table thoroughly- I took a sponge and some dish soap and scrubbed the entire table really well, then I wiped it down with a cloth.

2. Lightly sand the table and wipe off the dust- I used a sanding block to lightly sand the table along the grain of table top and legs. Afterwards, I wiped off the dust with a cloth.

3. Brush the stain on and rub it in with a cloth (or sock)- Using a paint stick, stir the stain very well; then dip your foam brush into the stain and brush it onto the table. Take some paper towel (you can use a cloth or a sock instead) and rub the stain ALONG the wood grain of the table. You will want to make sure that you are rubbing along the grain of the wood, in order to create a more clean and polished look to the table.

Tip: For any awkward places that are difficult to get into, use a bristle brush to apply the stain instead of the foam brush.

That’s it! The first coat of stain will reveal a bit of streaking and will not provide full coverage. My husband actually liked the look of one coat of stain- it seemed to add a rustic look to the table.

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I ended up applying a second coat a couple of days later because I wanted the table to be darker and richer in colour. The method to apply the second coat is the same as the first coat: you simply brush on the stain with a foam brush and rub in the stain using some paper towel. The best thing about the second coat is having the experience of putting on a first coat! I felt more confident applying the second coat, and it was a much quicker process the second time around- yaay!

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Once, you are satisfied with the coverage, sit back and enjoy your new table!
P.S in my next blog post, I will be sharing the process of refinishing my chairs…that was definitely more of a challenge…

© The Muslimah Mommy

  • First off kudos for doing the smart thing and selling your old table before buying a new one. You did an awesome job on this project Mashaa Allah.

    We recently got a new dining set and our old one is still collecting dust waiting for its new home.

    • Thanks Patricia! I can totally understand your situation: you saw a dining set you really liked and snatched it up before it was too late- which is the smart thing to do! Sure, your old set is collecting dust, but at least you were able to get your hands on a table that you LOVE before someone else did 😉

  • How did you sand around the details and embellishments?

    • Hi Shannen, I used a sanding block to get around the details and curves of the table, hope this helps!

  • Haneen Ali

    Salam ! Wonderful post, did you have any issues with the drying of the stain too quickly, also did you apply it in sections or along the length.

    Thanks !

    • Walaikum Assalam, I didn’t have any issues with the drying and I applied the stain in sections. My only advice would be to apply a top coat, so that the stain is protected. Hope this helps!