Refinishing an End Table

Apparently, the furniture-refinishing bug runs in my family. My aunt has been rescuing furniture from Craigslist and curbs for several years, and refinishes sells them in her shop at a permanent flea market. My mom redid an entire dresser set for my sister and I when we were little, plus several other projects over the years (she’s currently working on redoing their barstools). She helped me redo a coffee table in college for my apartment, and repainted my dresser when she visited me and my husband last spring. My mother-in-law also frequently has projects going; she has probably redone half the furniture in her house, and it all looks great. She has given a few pieces to us for our home as well.

I believe I have been bitten by the refinishing bug. One of the local thrift shops posts some of their items online, and while window shopping the other day, I impulse bought a pretty little end table that needed some work (the caption for it said, “would be a great weekend project,” so hats off to whoever wrote that; it’s what got me). I have not been bored while we’re staying home social distancing, but I thought a project would be nice. Here’s the amatuer-hour tutorial and photos!


Chalked spray paint, tung oil finish, sandpaper

For this project I bought a can of Minwax Tung Oil Finish (not pure tung oil), two cans of Rustoleum Chalked Paint in Chiffon Cream, one can of Rustoleum Chalked Matte Topcoat, and then used sheets of 150 and 80 sandpaper. I actually ended up not using the Matte Topcoat, as it is more recommended for high-traffic areas and would not have changed the finish at all.


Before – not bad, but a little beat up and dated
Here’s what the top looked like before sanding – did not take my own photo of that!

Here’s the end table as I bought it! It’s not a bad-looking table to begin with; I could have probably just cleaned it and used it as-is. But the original finish did look a little dated to me. It needed a refresh.


My first step was to sand the entire thing. I sanded it by hand, and would have done that even if I had a sander because of the intricate detailing in each panel. This was by far the hardest part of the entire project. It took me an entire weekend just for this step; probably 6-8 hours total. (I did some yard work with my husband in between.) I used 80 grit sandpaper first, and then went back over the whole thing with 150 grit. I originally planned on going over it a third time with an even finer grit paper I had, but decided not to do that because I didn’t want to oversand it and felt it was smooth and stripped enough after two rounds. Plus, I was really tired of sanding.

All taped up
First coat of paint – first coats always freak me out with how streaky they are
Second coat of paint

After sanding, I taped off the top and all the brass accents. Then I started spray painting. I am really not a great painter; I typically use too much and end up with drips. I also have trouble getting brush strokes to smooth out. Spray paint seemed like the best way to go given all that; plus chalked paint is pretty trendy right now. I did end up with some drips, but the chalked texture makes those pretty easy to sand down without ruining the finish. I did two coats of paint with the table upside down, then flipped it over and touched it up where needed. I only had about 1/4 of a can left when I was done.

One coat of tung oil finish

Next, it was time for the tung oil finish. I was a little worried about this, because the wood top looked a little rough even after sanding, with some water stains and dark spots. At first I thought about staining it instead, or staining it and then doing tung oil over top, but I didn’t want to wait another week for Amazon to deliver me stain (#socialdistancing). I tested the tung oil on a small water-stained section first to make sure it wouldn’t look too horrible, and it didn’t. I applied one coat with a rag and let it rest 24 hours according to the directions on the can, then did a second coat the next day. With tung oil, the Internet recommends anywhere from 5-10 coats, so I will likely leave the table in my garage this week and apply a coat every day. However, the extra coats won’t really change the look of the table that much, so I went ahead and added the hardware back. Here’s the (95% finished) final product:

The finished product

I am extremely happy with how this turned out! If you follow me on Instagram you’ve already seen me bragging about this (#sorrynotsorry). I was originally planning on putting this in our basement den, but it turned out so nice I think it will replace the nightstand in our guest bedroom (which is also my WFH office currently). I really enjoyed refinishing this project, and am definitely looking for my next one now.

Am I one of those bloggers who makes Pinterest covers for every post? No, but also, being at home all the time has got me wanting to start…


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