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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