How to Paint a Dining Table

Written by fiona fearey
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to Paint a Dining Table
Use paint or varnish in a satin finish for a subtle sheen (Dining Table and Hardwood Flooring image by Paul Hill from

When updating the decor of a dining room, you can paint a dining room table instead of purchasing a new one. For a polished, professional look, select the right primer for your table's surface. Shellac-based primer seals raw wood, while alkyd-based primers adhere to most surfaces. Latex primers and paints are simple to use, but you may prefer something more durable for a surface that will get a lot of use. Varnish will add another layer of protection and make your table easier to wipe clean.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Dust sheet
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Rag
  • Detergent
  • Bucket
  • 2-inch flat paintbrush
  • Primer
  • Alcohol (optional)
  • Satin or semigloss paint
  • Satin or gloss varnish
  • White spirit

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Place a dust sheet under your table to catch any drips of paint. Sand your table if the surface is glossy to help the primer form a bond. Wipe the table with a tack cloth.

  2. 2

    Combine detergent and water in a bucket to make a diluted cleanser. Use a rag to remove any dust or grease from the table. Allow the table to dry before applying primer.

  3. 3

    Select the appropriate primer for your surface. Use a primer specially designed for metal or raw wood surfaces, or choose a universal primer. Brush the primer on in the same direction as the wood grain. Smooth out drips and areas of thick primer.

  4. 4

    Wash your primer brush directly after you are finished with it. Use alcohol to remove shellac-based primer, and white spirit if you used an oil-based primer. Water-based primers clean up with soap and water.

  5. 5

    Follow the priming process with a compatible paint. Oil-based paint is a good choice to apply over shellac- or oil-based primer. Thin oil-based paint with a small amount of white spirit to help it flow better, if necessary.

  6. 6

    Apply two thin, even coats of paint. Allow the paint to dry in between coats, following the manufacturer's specifications for recoat times. Allow the paint to dry completely before sealing the table with varnish, which is an optional step in the painting process.

  7. 7

    Apply one or more coats of varnish, selecting the finish for the amount of sheen you want. High-gloss varnish offers more protection, but may look too new to match with other historic or rustic furnishings.

  8. 8

    Wash brushes with oil-based paints, and varnish with white spirit.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a respirator when painting with shellac- and oil-based primers and paints.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.