OK, folks. We've got another how-to post...on a photography blog. I get it. It's weird. But hey - it's my life right now until it consistently warms up and I can photograph outdoors! So bear with me or just sign off for now. I am posting this just in case someone might learn something from me. 'Cause you never know, right? Right.
I'm sure you all remember the dead-mouse-table from craigslist. I've showed you the after pictures. (She's a beauty, right?) Anyway, I thought I'd tell you how we did it! Just know that we are NOT pros here. This is just how we did it - right or wrong...
1. We sanded the CRAP out of the table. Seriously. Here we are after only the first round.
As you can see, we did it inside. I would not recommend doing this part inside! When we were all said and done, I had to vacuum the entire first floor and I had dust in the strangest of places. Not good. And I sneezed. A lot.
However, this is just how we did it. First we focused on the top of the table because it needed the most work. We started off using my electric sander that we've had for years. I do not recommend refinishing anything unless you have one of these puppies. Seriously a life-saver.
We began by using 90 grit sandpaper. Once we got the first layer off, we moved to 150 grit. Then the hubby went to town and sanded out the stains by hand. There is actually a slight groove in the table in one spot b/c the stain was so deep. Lastly, we sanded one final time with 220 grit sandpaper. We did all of these rounds with the sander. The top definitely took the longest amount of time. We followed the same path on the legs (after dis-assembling the table) and they went much faster. They didn't have any stains to sand out - thank goodness.
Before we stained anything, we gave the table a good wipe down using a damp rag. Once it dried, we used a tack cloth to make sure there was no dust anywhere! (Hint: You can buy a tack cloth at a paint store. I'm not sure if Home Depot or Lowe's carry them?)
Here's our tack cloth. It's really, really sticky. It's actually kind of gross to touch.
Once everything was wiped down, we went to town with the stain.
I picked out Jacobean and I have to say, I love it more than I thought I would! The color is deep and rich but still allows the wood grain to show through.
I learned a few things about stain since this was my first time trying it out. First, and most important, don't shake the can! The will put air bubbles in it. Second, gently stir it with a stir stick. And thirdly, apply the stain with a small, 2" paint brush. I found out stain is really, really watery so I had to be careful. I made sure to cover the entire surface and then I went back over and brushed the whole length of the table to take out any lines or marks. We let the stain sit for 20 minutes (we were truly anal about the time!) and then went back and wiped it off. We didn't press too hard, just hard enough to lift off the extra stain so it didn't pool anywhere. We used an old T-shirt for this process and it worked great! (T-shirts don't leave any lint.) We loved the color so we only applied one coat of stain.
We actually let the stain cure for 48 hours before we applied the poly. We wanted to be sure it was very dry and my dad told me to let it sit for two days. And what can I say? I listened to my dad because he's got a whole lot more experience than I do!
The last part was the poly. It was actually pretty fun, too.
Before I applied the poly, I actually went over the entire surface with a 360 grit sandpaper. I went super, super lightly and made sure not to take any stain off. I just wanted to catch anything that had lifted due to the stain. Then I used my tack cloth again to wipe up any dust.
I applied the poly much like the stain - very thinly and evenly. I went over the top and wiped from one side all the way over to the other to make sure it was as smooth as possible. I also watched out for drips on the sides and legs. We were smart enough to have the table in the garage for this part because it is so STINKY! I put on three coats of poly. I sanded and wiped everything down with a tack cloth in between coats.
This is how I store my brushes so I don't have to clean them in between coats.
When we were all done, we let the table and legs cure in the garage for about three days before bringing everything inside and putting the table back together again.
Here she is (again) in all her glory. And yes, she's definitely a girl!
There you have it. How we refinished our table and gave her a new life. Would I do this project again? You betcha - in a heartbeat. All in all, we spent less than a hundred bucks for a table that we think looks like a million bucks! Not bad for two parents with four kids running around:)
Stay tuned for some "new" chairs. They add just a little more color into the room which I think is needed.