My mom bought this old kitchen table from Goodwill when she moved into her home a few years ago and always said it had good bones but needed to be refinished. I asked her if she still was planning to redo it a few months ago and she said she was waiting on me to help… moms! Well, I decided that redoing the table would make a great Christmas gift so I bought the supplies and snuck to her house one weekend while she was away.
I’ve now redone 3 tables this year: my dining room table, breakfast nook table, and our bar cart (okay that’s not technically a table but a similar concept) so I feel like I have the process down. Every wood is just slightly different but the process still works.
I decided to purchase chalk paint for the legs of the table. The beauty of chalk paint is that it takes zero prep work. There’s no stripping, sanding, etc. you just paint. So since I knew I wanted the legs to be black, I opted for black chalk paint. I had a few Instagram messages asking why I would want the legs to be a chalkboard… I don’t! I just wanted to make it easy, because why not? Another bonus is that I love the matte finish that chalk paint offers.
Okay here we go for the process:
Step 1 Strip the Table: I start by pouring CitriStrip into a small plastic tub and then painting it on pretty thick with a cheap chip brush. I prefer CitripStrip because it is less “smelly” and doesn’t smell like your nostrils are burning from chemicals. As I mentioned above, I painted the legs black so I only stripped the tabletop, not the legs. After applying the stripper, let it sit for about two hours. I have had stripper work really quickly in only an hour and sometimes it takes longer. I think it depends on a ton of factors like the temperature outside, the kind of stain that’s on the table, etc. But two hours should be good.
Step 2 Scrape: Once the stripper is a little “gummed” up and darker in color (roughly two hours) it’s time to scrape it off. Using a paint scraper, scrape the stripper off and bump into the little plastic bucket to be tossed out later. For the edges of the tabletop, you can use a wire brush, or continue using the paint scraper if flat enough.
Step 3 Wipe: Using a damp rag, wipe down your tabletop until your rag stops turning brown. It takes a little elbow grease to get the remaining stripper off of the tabletop so be prepared to wipe it multiple times.
Step 4 Bleach: In another small plastic container, pour Clorox splash-less bleach. I prefer the “splash less” option because it’s just a little thicker and stays on the tabletop pretty well. Wearing gloves, dip a clean rag into the bleach bucket and wipe heavily onto the tabletop. You want to get as heavy as a layer as possible onto your table so if it’s puddling a little bit, that’s great. After bleaching, you’re going to want to wait overnight or at least 12 hours before the next step. This allows time for the bleach to completely soak in and the table to dry.
Step 5 Sand: I’m very lucky that Cody has an orbital sander but really sanding by hand wouldn’t be all that bad. I used 120 grit for the first round of sanding then went back over the top to make it really smooth with a 220 grit. Your goal of sanding is to remove any scratches, knicks, and perhaps any remaining stain on the table that was stubborn and didn’t come off with the stripper.
Step 6 Wipe: Once you’re done sanding, wipe your table down completely with a damp rag. You want to get all of the sanding dust removed from not only the tabletop but the legs as well.
Step 7 White Pickeling: Adding the white pickling is what gives your tabletop that driftwood style appearance. Depending on your style and preference, you can add as much or as little white pickling as you’d like. I always start with a 50/50 ratio of water to pickling in my tub. You can always add more white, but you can’t take it away. In a small plastic container, mix your 50/50 ratio. Wearing gloves again, grab a clean rag, and wipe the white mixture onto the table, wiping in the direction of the grain of the wood. After a wipe or two, you can take a peek and see how much the wood is absorbing the mixture. If it’s soaking it up, you may want to add more white pickling to your mixture. And if it looks to your liking, keep going until your entire tabletop is covered.
Step 8 Paint the Legs: As I mentioned above, chalk paint is the easiest way to paint something because no prep is required. You just simply paint. I used this brush and this paint for my mom’s table. I also love that chalk paint dries so quickly so there’s no a lot of waiting time in between coats. My mom’s table took two full coats and then one “touch up” coat where I just painted the “thin” looking spots.
Step 9 Seal: You’ll need to wait a full day between the white pickling and sealing the table to allow the table to dry. I chose this top coat because I love the matte finish. I feel like the “driftwood” look can easily be changed by a shiny finish so try to find something matte if you’re going for this look. Use a high-quality paintbrush to apply this so you won’t see brush strokes. I reused the same chalk paintbrush and it worked great.
Now, you’ll need to wait a couple of days before utilizing your table so it can completely dry but you’re done!