How to Paint a Dining Room Table [4 Steps]

When you're in the mood for a dining room revamp, repurposing the furniture you already own can give you all the looks of a brand new room, without the cost of buying new. Painting your dining room table is one way of upgrading your dining room, but it can be an overwhelming task if you've never painted furniture before. If you're looking to update your drab dining room table with lasting results, this article is for you. We've put together a guide on how to paint your furniture properly.

Painting your dining room table isn't a hard process, but it does take time. Follow these steps when painting your table:

  1. Sand the area of the table you plan to paint.
  2. Prime the table.
  3. Paint.
  4. Seal and protect.

If you're ready for a dining room table makeover, keep reading! We will walk you through the process and discuss some great ideas on how to paint your table.

A modern farmhouse themed dining room with wooden chairs and wooden flooring, How to Paint a Dining Room Table [4 Steps]

How to Paint a Dining Table


  • Tarp
  • Sandpaper or sander
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Sealant
  • Painter's tape (optional)


Before you begin, you should prepare your area. If you're painting in an area where you don't want to risk paint landing on the floor, start by placing a tarp or sheet underneath the table. Make sure it's large enough to cover any area of the floor that might get paint-splattered.

Next, tape off any area of the table you don't wish to paint. Suppose you plan to only paint the top, tape off the part of the legs that touch the top of the table. This will allow you to make some minor mistakes without the consequences.

1. Sanding your dining room table

Using sandpaper or a sanding block, sand the areas of the table you wish to paint. If the table was previously painted and now chipping, sand until the area is even and smooth. This may require sanding all of the paint off if several layers of paint have chipped off.

If the table was previously lacquered, sand the lacquered layer off until you expose wood. Varnish and oil-stains that have a gloss finish are harder to adhere paint to. Not to mention, if the lacquer or paint is darker than the color you plan to paint the table, it will be harder to cover with lighter paint.

For larger surface areas, you will want to use an orbital sander. You can use sandpaper or a sanding block, but the process will take much longer and be more physically exhausting. Electric sanders are a great investment if you plan to refinished other furniture in your home.

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What Happens If You Don't Sand Before Painting?

Not all wood furniture needs to be sanded before you paint it. Sanding is done to create a surface that will bond with primer and paint. Surfaces that are too slick from high gloss paints or lacquer have the chance of being streaky and chipping away easily.

If you have an unfinished wood table, there's no need to sand. And if you really want to skip the sanding part, opt for a bonding, shellac primer that is thick enough to seal the surface.

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What Sandpaper Is Best For Wood? 

For best results, when sanding your table, you should use a medium grit paper to sand down any uneven areas, thick paints, or scratches. Follow this up with a fine-grit paper for a smooth finish. For reference, medium grit sandpaper is 120-150, and fine-grit sandpaper is 220. 

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2. Prime your dining table

After sanding, be sure to clean the surface of the table to remove any sanding residue. Sanding is a messy job, so you can clean up with a handheld vacuum and then a soft cloth to remove the remaining particles. If you don't sand your table, the cleaning process is still important. You want the paint to adhere to the surface. Dirt particles and residues can hinder the paint's ability to stick and create uneven surfaces.

Once the table is cleaned, it's time to prime. Primer is usually a white paint that helps create a strong surface for the paint to stick to. This makes the paint job last much longer. Priming is also helpful when you are painting a lighter shade than the table was originally. Not priming the table can allow the darker color underneath to bleed through and prevent a beautiful, even color.

Paint the primer on in a thin and even layer across all areas of the table you will be painting. Some primers, especially when being used to cover very dark surfaces, might require two coats. Painting the coats on in thin layers will allow the primer to dry quicker and prevent uneven buildup.

It would be best if you allowed the primer to dry for at least two hours before continuing. Be certain that the paint is completely dry and isn't tacky when you touch it.

3. Paint your dining table

Now that the prep work is finished, it's time to paint. Just as you did with the primer, paint in thin and even layers, allowing to completely dry before adding another coat. Two to three paint coats should be enough to cover the table without any bleed through, but sometimes thinner paints may require more.

If you are painting the entire table, as opposed to only the top, start by turning the table upside down so that the legs are facing upwards. This would allow you to reach all of the areas that would be more difficult to see and paint well if you were standing above the table. Complete all coats required before flipping the table back around and beginning on the top.

What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On A Dining Room Table?

When choosing the type of paint to use on your dining room table, you have a couple of different options. A popular new trend is to use Chalk Paint. Not to be confused with chalkboard paint that turns any surface into a chalkboard, Chalk Paint has the matte look of chalk perfect for rustic or vintage looks.

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Your other option is a water-based alkyd enamel paint. These dry hard giving you a lasting finishing, which is ideal with kitchen tables that tend to take a beating during meal times and family gatherings.

What Paint Colors Are Best For A Dining Room Table?

The color of paint you choose for your dining room table is dependent on the look you want to portray in your dining room. Dark stained wood is always a classic and suits a formal dining room well.

If you're going to a rustic or farmhouse decor, then white and wood is the way to go. These tables and chairs tend to have white legs and maintain a wood tabletop, but you can also invert these colors for the same effect.

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You can choose to use pastel yellows and blues if you enjoy a chic country look over vintage or rustic theme.

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You can never go wrong with blacks or greys. These match almost any decor and allow you a bit more freedom if you want to add a pop of color with your dining room chairs.

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Don't be afraid of bold colors. Dining rooms don't have to be boring, have fun with it!

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If you're still at a loss on what color to choose, consider checking out the psychology of color. There's scientific evidence that humans associate certain colors with specific feelings and attitudes. This is often used to determine what color to paint your dining room, but it can also be used in determining the color of your table as well if you're looking for something fun. 

While blue's are known to suppress appetite, turquoise is associated with being calm and relaxed. Reds promote interaction and liveliness and have the ability to stimulate appetite. So when determining what color to paint your kitchen table, you can use the psychology of color to create your intended dining environment.

4. Seal after painting

Once you have painted your table and let it dry for at least 48-hours, you may choose to seal your paint job. This isn't a necessary step, but it will increase the longevity of your paint. Using a rub on clear wax is a lot less work than painting a topcoat, and you don't have to worry about another 48-hours of drying time. You simply wipe it on, let it dry, and buff it out.

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In Closing

Turning your boring dining room table into something trendy and new doesn't need to cost you a fortune. We hope this article inspired you for your own dining room revamp!

For more home decor how-to's, check out these posts:

How To Remove Carpet From Stairs

How To Fill Empty Space In Dining Room [5 Awesome Ideas!]


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