Coffee-Stained Coffee Table




About: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.

This table seeks to take the stress out of owning a coffee table. You might constantly worry about stains appearing on your table from water cups or the notorious coffee cup. But with dozens of coffee stains already on the table you have absolutely nothing to worry about!

Idea inspired by a ReadyMade project a while ago. If anyone has a link to it please let me know. Nothing shows up in their project archive.

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Step 1: Supplies

  1. Ikea Lack side table
  2. gesso
  3. coffee
  4. clear coat
  1. paint brush
  2. coffee cup
  3. sandpaper

Step 2: Sand It Down

Roughen up the surface of the table with some sandpaper. This will give the gesso a better grip

Step 3: Gesso!

Apply a coat of gesso to the surface. Without this, the coffee beads up on the surface of the table as it dries. With the coat of gesso we get nicer circles on the surface.

Step 4: Make Some Stains!

Pour some coffee into a dish and use your coffee cup to apply it to the table. Be sure to play around with different ways of using the coffee cup to get different types of stains on the table. You can get splotches, thick rings, faint rings, incomplete rings, a splatter of tiny droplets, and a light smear of a cup being moved along the surface.

Step 5: Seal It Up

After everything is the way you like it, seal it up with some clear coat. There are several manufacturers of this stuff. I like the matte finish and use Rustoleum Painter's Touch Crystal Clear.

Step 6: Enjoy a Table, Stress Free!

Your table is now ready for guests. Let them leave their drinks of the table. Who cares, right? It's already stained! Now you can think about better things, like enjoying the conversation.

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    37 Discussions

    Jeffery Morgan

    10 months ago

    Interesting way to get it done. Stressfree indeed!


    2 years ago

    I made it with Wood Prix handbooks !


    8 years ago on Introduction

    We just bought the same table, though I don't think my dad would like it if I put coffee stains all over it =P But you did an awesome job on this, and a very clear 'ible!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea. The only suggestion I have is that you need to try several different coffee cups and mugs. You don't always drink your coffee out of that one cup do you? Surely you have matching tea cups that match the saucer? 

    Now you need to reverse it. Build a nice wooden table, create a whole bunch of white rings from your iced tea glasses, and seal them in.

    I can still remember Mom yelling at us, "Use a coaster!" (I think she was afraid of those white rings.)

    2 replies

    What are you talking about? My table's done and I'm happy with it. I don't need to do anything else at this point.

    If you want to make your own version of this, however, you should go right ahead. :)

    Great response! 
    Why is it when someone posts an instructable there are always those who feel it is their duty to tell us how they WOULD do it better!?  Instead, compliment the poster and then make your own - and maybe THEN comment how you DID make it better? 

    Awesome idea fungus!

    i love how the resulting pattern actually has an aesthetic appeal.  especially from a distance, it really looks like something you might find in a trendy showroom. 

    How about forgetting the white undercoat and staining the whole table with coffee(is there such thing as a coffee-colored wood stain?)?  what way rings aren't even noticeable.  like how you wear dark clothing when you go out to eat. 


    9 years ago on Introduction

    A few years back I came across an explanation as to why coffee spills form rings, even when no cup is present.  That made me realize physics might be useful for more than making atomic bombs.  Then when I read about why the Guinness bubbles float DOWN the glass I was hooked.  I still have an elementary school grasp of physics but I enjoy what little I do grok!

    Scholarly article in Nature Journal:

    Website of physicist 

    good coffee ring

    Very insiprational for other potential entrants. 

    I'd presume you'd let the coffee dry before sealing the top?

    Broke my favorite coffee mug last night. Apparently Jarvis can't really fly. ~sniffle~

    2 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Or with the shredded armor that's lying about in my garden! Bloody tanks keep trying to mow over my daffodils.

    This is a universally applicable concept, surely!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    or pre-dent the car with a lump hammer so when the wife... (you get the picture)


    9 years ago on Introduction

    rather random, but cute

    That's a table I'd proudly show to people

    If you have the cups to spare you can skip the roughing and gesso, if you leave the cups on the rings until they're dry they'll not be beaded up, my desk is a testament to this, same stuff as the lack. Downside is you'll have a table full of cups for a few hours.

    Nice table though, another wee project for these is to get a big marker pen, pencil a design directly on  to the table and draw in with markers, clearcoat on top.  If you have the big chalky markers that you pump then the colours get really rich after being coated.