I have been wanting to do this for the longest time, and I FINALLY got to do it. I thought maybe we should get a new dining set, but then I thought that ours was still in good shape structurally, it was just in bad shape cosmetically. I would save us big bucks if I refinished the one we have. Our set is hand-me-downs from my sister-in-law, which she used for quite some years. We moved to our house back in 2004 and this dining set is still in use, after many, many kids mistreated it! The table had so many scratches that I had to sand it so well I thought I removed like 1/4 inch of surface. I used a 60 grit sandpaper for that! The chairs were really stained and super dirty and there was grease all over the place. The table specifically had a very thick coat of varnish that took me forever to remove.
This is how my beloved table looked like:
It was really a disaster especially on the top. Plus I am not a fan of oak either. My son even had fun once poking the top with a pencil all over the surface. Yikes. But one thing I ADORE about this table are the pedestal legs…so pretty. I did not want to stain the bottom part but I wanted the table to be two-toned, the bottom white and the top dark walnut. For the chairs, I stripped the varnish, sanded them, painted them with Krylon paint + primer in black and then applied two coats of Polycrylic in semi-gloss. They look so much better compared to what they were!
For the table, I cleaned it well using soap and water, then I applied Citistrip stripping gel (you can see it on the picture) pretty much you paint it on the surface and wait a minimum of 30 minutes. I actually let it work for several hours. When the paint looked like bubbles and I scraped off the finish easily. Some of the finish remained but instead of doing this again I decided to sand it. I used a 60 grit sandpaper with an orbital sander first, and then I finished it with a 220 grit for smoothness.
All the varnish is gone!
I used these products. Once you try Minwax, you do not want to try ANYTHING else! I applied the wood conditioner before staining. It prevents the stain from blotching all over.
First coat. I let it dry completely, 8 to 10 hours minimum. And yes, I was tempted to do a second coat after a couple of hours, but I resisted…I worked on the pedestal instead!
Here is a close-up of the finish: