Forhoja stain

Published on December 18th, 2011 | by Jules Yap


Stain retraining

Staining IKEA table tops

Materials: LEKSVIK dining table, INGOLF chairs (my chair style is no longer available), FÖRHÖJA kitchen cart, water based polyurethane, foam brushes, 3 cans spray primer, 5 cans spray paint, craft paper, painters tape, orbital sander, 30 grit & 120 grit sandpaper, 320 grit sanding block

Description: I have had my kitchen table and chairs for about 6 years and they were starting to show their age. I’ve noticed that ikea uses a finish that becomes “tacky,” marred, and discolored with use. Very few of ikea’s products actually have the same stain and finish. I picked up the kitchen cart at the thrift store for $25 and wanted all the pieces to come together and look like an actual set of furniture rather than a hodge-podge of mis-matched pieces. I also needed to brighten the space in my kitchen to give it the illusion of more space.

Staining IKEA table tops
Staining IKEA table tops
Staining IKEA table tops

I sanded the table top of the table and cart with 30-grit sandpaper on my orbital sander to strip off the old finish. Once I was down to bare wood, I changed to 120-grit paper. Once I had the tops smooth, I covered them with craft paper to protect them during the spray painting.

I hand-sanded the chairs, the base of the table, and base of the kitchen cart with 120 grit sandpaper to improve adhesion and applied spray primer. After priming, everything was coated three times to ensure a good solid finish. I used high gloss white.

The craft paper had protected the table tops and no additional sanding was needed. I applied minwax “ipswich pine.” I purchased the 8oz size can of stain and used about 3/4. I left the stain on for 12 mins, wiped off the excess with a rag, and was satisfied with the color intensity. I let the stain dry overnight. The following day, i applied 5 coats of water-based polyurethane. Each coat was allowed to dry for about an hour with a fan blowing across the table tops then it was lightly sanded with a 320-grit sanding block. The dust was wiped off with a moist sponge and allowed to completely dry before the next application. I used glossy polyurethane and chose 5 coats because the table is a high-use surface.

Overall, I spent $55 on paint, stain, and polyurethane. I already owned all the other supplies.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any “before” or “during” photos. This hack would look great in a variety of paint and stain colors.

~ Oriah, Charlottesville, VA

More hacks on

Expedit advent calendar
Large Format Media Solution

The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

10 Responses to Stain retraining

  1. Umbereen says:

    I’m looking to stain my forhoja cart. Did you use a wood conditioner first? I love how yours turned out and would like some advice. Thanks!

  2. Oriah says:

    Patricia: Everything was intially stained.

    Anon: I sanded the top of the cart because it was cut and discolored. I lightly sanded everything to insure the primer would adhere well. If you’re planning to repaint the top, depending on it’s condition, you may not have to sand it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why did you have to sand the cart. I have one and I want to repaint it but it seems like I could just start with primer.

  4. patricia says:

    Beautiful job – I have a white table (Liatorp)and chair set from Ikea and the table top has started chipping. Was yours painted to begin with or stained wood? I’d have to use stripper.

  5. Oriah says:

    After sanding each polyurethane coat and wiping it down with a moist spounge, i allowed the tops to dry for another 15 mins or so. I used a cellulose sponge. I used Valspar spray primer and spary paint. I would avoid the “cheap” spay paints because they don’t cover as well and tend to be runny. In the past i’ve used Krylon and have been happy with their spray paint too.

  6. Candace says:

    How long did you wait for wood to dry after wiping it down with the sponge? Is 5 minutes enough? And what kind (material/brand name) of sponge did you use? Also what brand of paint? Looks incredible!!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Such a cute kitchen! Checkerboard floor… :)

    Good work, too.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’ve tried spray painting chairs like those, and I always ended up with clumpy/drippy spots and it always looked bad. I just paint those by hand now.

  9. Keren Duchan says:

    It came out beautiful. I love the shiny look of the top, and it looks great with the white on the other parts. Great job. I would rather die than sand and paint so much!!! That’s why my furniture looks the way it does…

  10. Berit says:

    This is oh-so-gorgeous, and reflects oh-so-much work on your part!!!

    Proper sanding and painting?? Then the proper application of FIVE coats of polyurethane?? I salute you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Back to Top ↑