Sunday, August 5, 2012

Distressed Coffee Table Refurbish

A few weeks ago I decided I needed to lighten up my living room.  I started coordinating so that creamy colors and soft sand colors were the predominant colors.  One of the signature pieces I had my eye on to tie this all together was the coffee table.  Mind you, a few weeks ago this table was being used to hold the monstrosity of a TV that used to live on the other side of the room (which you won't be able to see in the coming photos).

My vision for the solid wood table was to sand down the worn finish, paint the whole thing a creamy white, distress it, seal it, and plunk it back down in the living room all Martha Stewart perfect and all would be well with the world.

The idea was great and simple in my head - the work, however, would prove to be back-breaking and very tiring (I did this all yesterday, and I'm completely beat today complete with sore back, shoulders, and even my hamstrings are sore from all the bending over and sanding haha!)

So without further ado, here's how it went!


  • Old, worn solid wood coffee table
  • Primer (I used Painter's Touch primer from Home Depot)
  • 2 cans of Creamy White spray paint (I used Painter's Touch Satin Heirloom from Home Depot)
  • 1 can of polyurethane to seal it (I used Minwax polyurethane spray from Home Depot)
  • Sufficient outdoor space (and some accompanying good weather)
  • Plastic drop cloth
  • 180 grit sandpaper (for the initial 'roughening')
  • 220 grit sandpaper (for the 'distressing')
  • *Optional* Foam block sander (these are fantastic for softly sanding edges without the risk of compromising the nice, strong lines of sharp edges)
You'll want a lot of outdoor space for this, between the sanding, paint fumes, and definitely the sealing fumes.  At the generosity of a good friend of mine (who I'll totally plug HERE), I was able to do this outside during a very nice day (albeit very humid).

I started off sanding the entire table so that the primer and paint would stick to all the old surfaces.  I was lucky enough to have some help with the sanding from two little darlings who were anxious to get involved with the project (thanks, ladies!)

Once that was finished I moved on to priming the entire table.  As you can see below, there were a lot of ridges and little nooks and crannies where I had to be sure to get the primer without over-spraying and causing unwanted buildup or dripping.

Getting all the edges ended up being easier just leaning the table over on its side as opposed to putting it upside down (which would have hindered the ability to do the top of the table while the legs were being done)

Once the primer was completely dry (which didn't take long since I got the quick-drying spray) I started on the first of two coats of my creamy white paint.  Because it was humid the drying time was a little longer than expected (and because I got the 2x coverage paint it went on quite heavy).  Total drying time for 2 coats was approximately 3 hours (that does not count curing which can take several days)

I didn't actually document the process of distressing since it was very labor intensive in the heat and with all the bending over and kneeling (on my bad knee this is a pretty big task - and also explains why my hamstrings are killing me today... where did I put that chardonnay...).  Essentially what I did to distress this piece was I mostly used a foam block sander at a very soft grit and I went along all the sharp edges of wood anywhere I could see.  I took off only a little bit of the paint in these areas, and on all the corners, and did a little distressing on the curved portions of exposed wood on the legs and the cross-beam.  After I was satisfied with the distressing, I thoroughly dusted the entire piece and wiped it down with a damp rag to remove any missed paint/wood dust.

Once the distressing process was finished, I had to get to work sealing it.  I used a spray polyurethane fast-drying sealer for my table.  I have intentions for the top of this table at a later date, so I wasn't too generous on the top with the sealer as it will be re-sealed later anyway.  I did do two full coats of the sealer on all sides of the legs to prevent staining or unwanted 'distressing' from wear and tear.

After all was said and done, the edges on the legs look exactly how I was envisioning they would.

I was very pleased with the finish of the polyurethane and how it made the whole piece shine too.

I think the new table fits very nicely in my living room!

If you have any questions or would just like to pass on your own fun DIY tips, I'd love to hear from you!

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