REFINISHING a Dining Room TABLE AND CHAIRS (saving over $800) – DIY Project

Right out of the gate, I can’t take credit for this project…this was done by Mrs. Road to One Million.

Long story short, my wife wanted a new dining room table, and she began the arduous quest of shopping around to find a table that she liked. Full disclosure, devoted readers; I have built tables in the past, and I feel that I would have been competent enough to handle the job. However, I don’t build chairs…and the real expense was the chairs…

Photo by jae park on

So the chairs weren’t as expensive as the car above (I am being dramatic), but all total, after using the dark art called math (Harry Potter reference), we calculated that it would cost right at $1200 to buy the table and chairs. Well, Mrs. Road to One Million hopped on Facebook Marketplace and found a table and six chairs that could be refinished for right at $125 for all of them.

So, we hopped into our minivan (because that is HOW WE ROLL!), and went and picked up the table and chairs. Easy-peezy, lemon-squeezy….NOT.

Picking up the table was easy; refinishing it was harder. I experimented with an organic chemical stripper to try to take the “glossy coat” off, but it did not work as well as we would have liked. So, my wife began sanding everything down…

We have refinished furniture in the past where we didn’t sand it down first, and what we have found (as several of you, devoted readers, have probably found out as well) is that the paint does not stick to the wood very well, and that the paint begins to peel off after a short amount of time. So, it is frustrating, and slow, but you have to sand everything down first for the paint to adhere well.

After everything was sanded down, she painted everything, stained the top, and then put several coats of spar polyurethane over it to protect the table and chairs from prolonged use (and children…). Pro tip: when you go to put the polyurethane over a stained section and a painted section, be aware that (from our experience at least) if you use the same brush the can of polyurethane begins to take on the color of the wood stain. This means that if you put the polyurethane on the stained surface first and then put the polyurethane on the painted portions, the polyurethane will most likely be darker when you are putting it on the painted portions…which might not be the look you are going for.

So yeah… it took a long time. All total, between taking care of a needy husband and three small kids, it took around 3 months for Mrs. Road to One Million to finish the table and chairs. And if you are wondering if the “juice was worth the squeeze“…we think so; by my calculations after we paid for the table and chairs, sand paper, stain, brushes, etc. we saved close to $800 (this number does not include the cost of time and mental anguish).

Couple of quick links to Amazon if you are interested in the pre-stain, stain, or polyurethane that we used… we use “Minwax” brand products:

  • Prestain (I didn’t use this on one project, and have used it every time since…it makes a huge difference).
  • Stain (We like the “dark walnut” and “red mahogany” stains the best. And remember, a little stain goes a long way).
  • Polyurethane (There are different types of polyurethane, but for a project that will see a lot of wear and tear, or outside use, we like to use the Helmsman Spar Polyurethane…it makes a huge difference too).

P.S. I am terrible at taking before photos, and during photos. I forget to do it. I just get so excited about the project. I am going to have to get better at it.

Published by Ethan P.

Ethan is a 30-something that wants to retire early to spend more time with family (like most people). Ethan enjoys talking in the third person, long walks on the beach, pizza, and nerdy things like Star Wars, superheroes, and saving money....but not Clue...Ethan does not enjoy Clue.

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