Saturday, February 14, 2015

Table Makeover for Less Than $80

Old table in all of its 1970s glory

The year is 1999. My wife and I had just gotten married, and we were working with a combined income of $10,000 per year. Because we were just out of college, we needed to find furniture. We just happened to find a circa 1972 table in the garage of the church house we were living in. It was cheap veneer that was somewhat intact, light birch in color, and not at all our style. However, two leaves dropped down, and it had three additional leaves that could be placed in the middle. This meant that the table could go from seating for two to seating for 18 in mere seconds. It was a Transformer!

Same table four days later
Numerous times through the years we have wanted a new table. We have looked for something that was...newer? Nicer? Just plain different? Unfortunately, this table has been so versatile that I cannot count the number of times that we have looked at each other and said that we will be stuck with this table forever. And then we had kids. How many of you know what kids do to an already old, beat up, 40-year-old table? They spill on it (and leave the puddle for you to find hours later). They bang on it with spoons. They get paint on it. It got to the point where the varnish was chipping off of the table. Beyond the Sanford and Sons ambiance it lent to the whole house, I feared my kids were consuming varnish. I thought about rebuilding the table, and then my wife had a genius idea -- what if we just painted it? Then she had an even more genius idea -- what if we resurfaced it?
Day 1 - sanding the old finish

We looked at a couple of kitchen counter resurfacing kits. Rustoleum had one that was quite expensive, and we weren't sure we wanted to invest that much money into our "vintage" table. After a little more research, we found a kitchen counter paint kit from Giani on Amazon. It was $80, came in a variety of colors, and had fairly decent reviews. The kit was for kitchen counters, but said that it would work on laminate, cultured marble, or ceramic tile. We decided to give it a try. So here is the process.

Cost - $80
Time - Less than 2 hours spread out over 4 nights
Difficulty - Fairly easy following the included instructions

Day 1) The surface needs to be as smooth as possible, so I had to sand off the cracking, chipping varnish. I began with 80 grit sandpaper, and finished with 220, making two passes over the entire table and all of the leaves with each. After sanding, we wiped down the table with a damp rag and left it to dry overnight.

Day 2 - first coat of base primer
Day 2) After watching the included DVD with instructions and tips, we painted the black base coat primer on the table and leaves, making sure to get all of the edges. We initially did not paint the inside edges of the table, but realized that the light table color shows through the cracks when the table is pushed together. So we went back and painted all inside edges with the black primer.

Day 3) Now was the time to create the faux granite look. Using the sponge included in the kit (cut in three pieces), we began dabbing on the three other colors, one at a time. The kit also came with a piece of practice cardboard which allowed us to practice our "dabbing" techniques. We started with the first color, dabbing the table and the three leaves. We then layered the next two colors. Finally (not included in the instructions), we wanted the table to be a little darker, so we sponged some more black on the table in some of the lighter areas. We had a lot of fun!

Day 3 - the table after some sponging on of additional colors
Days 4 and 5) After allowing the table to dry completely and going over it with extra fine steel wool to knock down any high spots, it was time to varnish the table. The included varnish was unlike typical varnishes that I use. It was rolled on and dried glossy. I was tempted to use my regular varnish but wanted to see how this product ended up. The end result was a glossy, sealed table. 

Day 5 - Closeup of finished product
After having looked at many options, I believe that the $80 we spent on updating and upgrading this table was a much better decision than purchasing a new one. The table is now sealed so I don't have to worry about my kids eating 40 year old varnish (it probably was made with lead, asbestos, agent orange and deet). It looks like something that was made this century. And we still have a table that can fit almost my entire family. It's a win-win-WIN!

If you are looking to update a counter top, dining table, coffee table, or any other surface, I would highly recommend this process.

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