How to Paint Over a Table That Has Been Stained & Sealed

Refinishing your furniture can give your decor a whole new look. You may have an old wood table that is still serviceable, but the stained finish is old and damaged. Or maybe you have found a table at a garage sale or second-hand store that needs only a new finish. Stripping and restaining the table is time-consuming and expensive, but another idea is to simply add a coat of paint and put the table to immediate use. Evaluate the stained and sealed table finish to see how much preparation you need to do before you paint.

Painting an old wood table can give it a fresh new look.
  1. Lay down a drop cloth to protect the floor while you work on the table.

  2. Inspect the table. Look for any areas that are flaking or chipped. Make note of areas where the stain has been worn to bare wood.

  3. Fill in cracks and gouges with wood filler, applying the filler with a small scraper. Skim the edge of the scraper across the filled area, making it level with the surface, and remove the excess filler. Allow the filler to dry overnight.

  4. Sand the table with sandpaper or electric sander. The surface must be smooth and level before you paint, or the finish will look amateurish.

  5. Dust off the sandpaper grit with a clean tack cloth.

  6. Wash the table with a solution of 1 tsp. dish detergent and 1 gallon water to remove remaining grit and dirt. Allow the table to dry for two hours.

  7. Spray a coat of alkyd primer evenly on all surfaces of the table. Allow the primer to dry for at least four hours. Sand the primer coat lightly, and wipe with a tack cloth before you apply the topcoat finish.

  8. Spray on the enamel paint color of your choice. Start with a thin, even layer, and add additional layers, as needed. Allow the paint to dry to the touch between coats.

  9. Apply a polyurethane spray coat to protect the paint. Spray in thin layers, going back and forth across the surface. Allow each coat to dry before adding another, following the manufacturer's directions.


  • Use primer and paint in well-ventilated areas to prevent illness and respiratory irritation from fumes.
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