Vintage Table Face-Lift




Introduction: Vintage Table Face-Lift

About: I am the happiest when I'm making something (anything).

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One of the favorite corners of my house involves one of the most unique tables.  People always ask where it came from and how much it cost.  Little do they know that it was a $10 find at the local thrift shop.
If you love thrifting as much as I do, you know that once in a while you come across a great piece of furniture that is in not so great of shape.  I encountered this a few weeks back.  Found a beautiful Brown Saltman, mid-century corner table!  It had lots of scratches and bumps everywhere, not to mention the many water stains, but i couldn't see my life without it.  It seemed impossible to restore it to its natural wood color, so I decided to give it a pop of color and have it match our decor.  Make a 1950's piece a little more modern.


An old, beat up piece of furniture that you can't live without.
Small power sander (if you're a trooper, go at it by hand)
Sand paper
Primer (i recommend KILZ if you are using spray primer or ZINSSER if you want to use a brush or roller)
Spray Paint in your favorite color (make sure you decide if you want a gloss or matte finish)
Sealer (I like KILZ complete)
An old rag or if possible a hand held vacuum
A big, open space and lots of patience!

Step 1: Clean. Sand. Clean.

First thing first, wet that old rag and give your table a good cleaning before doing anything to it.  Try and get rid of as many stains as possible.  Once that is done, take your sander and attack those larger stains and scratches first, making sure you dont create new grooves on edges.  I found that doing this by hand is possibly the best way and more efficient since you can control the space you sand.  Be patient, don't apply too much pressure to your sanding so that you dont create new scratches.  Also, if your table has round legs, they will need to be sanded by hand.  Once all of your bigger stains have been reduced, give your table another cleaning and vacuum up all that dust if you can.  This will help see the areas where you need your power sander to do more work.

Step 2: Sand Away!

Take your power sander and slowly start going over the entire surface of the table.  Make sure you do it evenly on all sides.  What you are looking to do is to remove all that gloss or old paint from it.  You should be able to see the natural (dull) wood color.  NO SHINE!  And it should also feel smooth to the touch.  Make sure your sand paper isn't too rough.  Be careful, a lot of dust will collect and sometimes it's hard to tell how much you have actually sanded down.  Make sure to keep that rag/vacuum handy so you can clean every so OFTEN.  Continue until you feel its ready to get painted.

Here you see a side of the table with a few patches of gloss still on it.  We were almost at the finishing point with the sanding.  Also, make sure you get into the it by hand.

Step 3: Prime Away.

Once you have cleaned all the dust off your table (and i mean all), you are ready for priming!  Do your first coating and let it dry for at least an hour (this is where patience kicks in).  Dont worry if it looks a bit blotchy, the second coat will cover it up.  Also, if you notice that your primer is running, make sure you aren't spraying too close or that there isnt any more gloss or paint that you didnt sand off.  If you are using a roller, grab a small brush to get into all the corners and dont use too much primer at once, so that you dont end up with brush strokes on your furniture.

This is what a first coating looks like before it was almost done.  Still a bit blotchy looking, but a bit of primer on every inch.

Step 4: Paint Away and Seal It!

Once your second coating of primer is on, let it sit for 24 hours.  Yes, dont you dare touch it for a day.  STEP AWAY from your project and take a 24 hour break :)

The following day, get your paint and spray it on the way you did with the primer.  One coat, let it sit for an hour and then coat number two.  If you are using a high gloss paint, I suggest you let it sit for a bit longer.  Those tend to stay sticky for more time than matte finish. Avoid touching the paint to check if it is dry.  Spray paint is sticky and you will leave fingerprints on it forever.  

The following day, come back to your project and spray on the sealer.  Once is good enough for indoor furniture.  If your project is for outdoors, i suggest two coats.  Let your piece dry completely before using it, cleaning it, or putting anything on it.  I would recommend a good 48 hours of forgetting about it.  Once all is dry, dust it off, place it in its new room, and enjoy the great compliments you will get. They'll never know you found it at the Salvation Army for $7 and spent $30 to make it look so fabulous! 

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    4 Discussions


    6 years ago

    One way i found to get out the water stains on old tables was after sanding it down clean the wood with murphy's wood soap. It worked pretty well on a side of the road coffee table we found and refinished!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I suggest reading and following the directions on the paint can. Some primers lose their ability to hold the top coat of paint after curing too long. All the rattle can primers I use recommend top coating within 15 minutes if you have followed their specific directions and done several light coats instead of one heavy one. Also, many paints either need to be re-coated within 15-30 minutes, or after 7 days due to the gassing out process. Paint applied over top of a "dry" coat that's not fully gassed out will result in bubbles or orange peel, which pretty much means strip it down and start over. Best to follow specific directions for the brand/type of paint you're using.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Perhaps you're right, however being that it was a project I did, I posted instructions as I found to work. This table was done last year and has been a part of our living room for months and iy looks absolutely perfect! So maybe your method I'd correct, but my method worked just fine on this project, that's why I posted directions the way I did.