So we have an old dining table that was handed down from my Grandma. It was part of a beautiful set including the hutch in the image below. Last year right around this time we had a house fire that destroyed almost all of our belongings. The table was in the fire along with a matching hutch and chairs. The hutch and chairs were not salvageable but the table was. It’s a beautiful big table, but the color was a high gloss honey finish on oak. You could see every bit of damage from the fire. Something needed to be done. Not to mention, it was very dated and didn’t match the rest of our furniture.
We wanted to make the table look distressed and weathered. Most of my home decor has a farmhouse style so I thought that a weathered table would really fit the theme. I’ll take you guys through our step-by-step process including all of the products that we used.
Step 1: Sand
This step took the most amount of time. We started by taking the table over to my dad’s workshop. It’s best to do this project in an enclosed, yet ventilated space. The table had a thick coat of a very high gloss finish, so we had to do quite a bit of sanding. In addition, there were a lot of deep gouges and dents to buff out. I started using coarse sandpaper but then realized that it was going to take more power to get all of that finish off, so we switched to an electric finishing sander. The sandpaper still came in handy for the legs, corners, and fine detail areas.
To get the weathered look we wanted, we sanded the table unevenly. Using the finishing sander we (by we I basically mean Oren and my dad) went across the top of the table applying different amounts of pressure. The areas where more pressure was used absorbed more of the stain so they turned out darker.
This is how the table looked when we were nearly finished:
Step 2: Wipe Table Down
After sanding there will be a lot of sawdust on the table. You want to make sure to get all of this off to create an even surface for staining. We used a clean paint brush to dust it off, then we used these Rust-oleum Tack Cloths:
Step 3: Stain
After wiping down the table we began the staining process. We started off using a brush, but then we tried a rag and liked the way that it was applying better. You want to make sure to apply the stain in the same direction as the wood grain. Apply the stain with even strokes, making sure that it not going on too thick. We used Minwax in the color Dark Walnut. Remember to use gloves as this will stain your hands for days.
This is how the table looked after one coat of stain.
Notice how the middle section of the table did not come out as dark as the rest. These two leafs were not used very often before we had the table so they have stayed in much newer condition. We let the table dry for a few hours and then decided to do a second coat on the middle section to darken it up enough to match with the rest of the table. We also applied a second coat on the legs where the stain didn’t absorb as much. Most likely due to the fact, we hand sanded the legs vs an electric sander.
If you take on a project like this its important to know what kind of wood you are staining. The same stain will look different on oak vs maple for example. Doing a second or third coat is a complete preference depending on how dark you would like your table to turn out. This is how the table looked after a second coat of stain on the middle section and on the legs:
The second coat came out exactly how we wanted. It really brought the whole table together.
Step 4: Polyurethane
We waited until the next afternoon to apply the polyurethane to make sure that the stain was completely dry. We didn’t want the table to look shiny so we used Minwax Polyurethane in clear satin. If you prefer a more shiny finish it’s best go with a clear gloss polyurethane. If you are going for the weathered look I’d steer away from high gloss although it creates a unique look in its self. We used a brush for wood stains to apply the polyurethane. Again, use even strokes along the grain and don’t apply the product too thick.
We let this dry for about 6 hours. We planned on doing a second coat but we were satisfied after one because we didn’t want the table to have a high-shine. Again, this is completely your preference.
Step 5: Dry
After applying the polyurethane, we left the table to dry for five days. It probably would have been okay after two or three days but we didn’t need the table for anything all week so we decided to give it some extra dry-time. This is the final result:
I am so happy with the results, it turned out just the way we wanted it. I hope this helps you with any plans you have of distressing furniture. I will link all of the products again below, as well as our chairs and benches.
We are moving into a new house this summer and will be doing some remodeling for a couple months. I’m looking forward to doing a lot more home décor posts!
Have a great week , and thank you so much for reading!