How to Paint Your Old Coffee Tables

Some people favor the old-fashioned feel and appearance of an old used coffee table, while others prefer to have the brand-new and freshly-painted look. All coffee tables wear out over time and lose their original ‘stain’ or paint finish. If you wish to liven up your coffee table, all you need to do is refinish the surface and apply your desired color to resurrect a favorite piece of old furniture.

How to Paint Your Old Coffee Tables


Strip the Old Paint Off

If your coffee table has an existing coat of paint, the first thing you need to do is to strip the old paint off so you can expose the wood underneath. That prevents uneven areas where the previous paint had come off, leaving "voids" without paint. Besides, new primer and paint adhere more effectively to raw wood surfaces than to a dry, old, dirty, and cracked paint layer. 


You can use a putty knife as the tool of choice to peel existing paint layers away, but you can always use a wire brush as an alternative. For best results, use a paint stripper together with the putty knife. First, saturate the existing coat of paint with the solution (based on the manufacturer's directions) to soften the dry coating and prepare it for stripping. In case you will be using a paint stripper, be sure to work in a well-ventilated room, or in an outdoor location to avoid fume inhalation. If you believe the current layer of paint is still in excellent condition, you can sand it, apply a coat of primer, then paint over it.


Remove ‘Stain’ and ‘Old Finish’

‘Stain’ dramatically differs from the typical paint in that it penetrates the wood, in addition to coating the surface. That means you need to do more than simply peeling away the topmost layer to uncover the wood. 


Although you can paint over the old stain, it is a much more complicated process than merely painting over a raw wooden surface that has a natural color. For optimal results, you have to strip the top stain layer to bare the untreated wooden substrate underneath. Doing that also removes the existing coat that protects the stain. Anding accomplishes all that. Sandpaper with 80 to 100 grit removes the coat and thins the top stain layer down. You can do that by hand, or use a belt sander or palm sander for broad areas of the table surface. If you wish to smoothen the table down further after stripping, you can use higher grits of sandpaper corresponding to the smoothness level that you want to achieve.


Priming the Table Surface

Primer is not a strict requirement on wooden coffee table surfaces, especially in cases where you will apply paint directly. However, non-wooden surfaces should be primed beforehand, to ensure proper and permanent paint adhesion to said surfaces.  The application of primer is made in the same manner as that of the paint. It is done with the use of a paintbrush, roller, or sprayer according to personal preference. It would be wise to use a primer and paint made by the same manufacturer for an optimal result. You should always use the appropriate type of paint that corresponds to your coffee table material:  metal, plastic, or wood.


Paint Application and Finish Coating

Painting is more than merely applying a coat of paint on a surface. In most instances, you would need several layers to attain the exact color you want, the correct method of application for your intended finish. For ideal results, perform a test on a piece of scrap wood or a dry portion of the wall. 


Paint brushes, regardless of its fineness, leave streaks due to the brush strokes. Rollers can leave an uneven surface behind, but generally, a higher roller quality means a smoother finish. Coats that are sprayed on, either by spray can or spray gun, are the most uniform coating, provided you apply it quite carefully to avoid drips and splashes. 


Other possible painting methods are sponge-daubing and rag-daubing. There are also splatter methods and pattern sponges, where you shake a brush over the substrate to scatter paint. 
After the painting, apply a finishing coat that protects the paint.