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Painting a Dining Set

I have a dining set from the 70s. It is dark. I wanted to brighten up my dining room and want to paint it. Do you do anything different when painting a table? For sanitary purposes? Is there something you put over the paint, like a top coat? I am on a tight budget! Thanks!


By chickenparents from Pittsburgh, PA


Painting a Dining Set

Yes, it's best to use a water based Acrylic paint (or latex) then put 3 or more coats of clear water-based sealer over the top. (Don't use oil-based because it's much more toxic.) The sealer could be water-based Varathine, or any clear sealer from the craft store. (It's usually called "Medium" and it's available in gloss, satin or matte. I prefer satin myself.) Medium is just clear Acrylic paint without any pigment (coloring). Usually the least expensive place to buy clear sealers is at Liquidation Stores. Sometimes people will use white glue mixed with water (half and half) then brush this on as a sealer. But since your table will get lots of wear and tear you should use something that you know is durable!


* You could also save your money and someday have a piece of glass custom-cut to fit the top of your table!

As far as the chairs go, you may want to use a semi-gloss 100% Acrylic paint. 100% Acrylic paints can be purchased by the gallon at Home Depot (or any paint store). They're sold where the Latex paints are, but I prefer them because they tend to stick much better to every surface (including brick and cement)! 100% Acrylic Paint costs the same and can be tinted to every color that Latex paints can. They also come in every sheen and also in indoor or outdoor as well.

Be sure to REALLY super-clean your table and chairs before you start painting. Then after you've cleaned them take a rag with rubbing alcohol on it and wipe them all down again to remove any reside from the cleaner and any dust or oils from your hands (so the paint sticks).


I paint custom wall murals, tiles and furniture as my business and I can't emphasize enough that you need to start your painting with a SUPER clean surface!

You know the 70's look (of very dark wood) is back in style (though WHY, I'll never know!). Have you thought about just putting a light colored tablecloth over the table? Another idea is to buy a piece of fabric you really love then put a piece of clear plastic over it (you can buy the plastic at Walmart in many different thickness' for VERY cheap). They also sell that plastic tablecloth lace which looks real but washes wonderfully. A final idea would be to hand paint a piece of fabric then put this on the table then cover the artwork with clear plastic. It would look like a hand-painted table! (You can also use clear shower curtains from the dollar store for clear table cloths.)


My daughter has a VERY ugly and broken kitchen table. I bought a wonderful piece of dark green and white (picnic style) fabric at Walmart for a table cloth for her. It looks wonderful and you'd never know what was under that pretty table cloth. Ugly legs on your table? Buy a piece of fabric or a table cloth that will hang all the way to the floor (or paint only the legs).

If your table is made from real wood, I would suggest you don't actually paint it, but instead Color-Stain or "pickle" it. You do this by mixing about one quarter paint (like a very light color or off-white) with 3 quarters (or more) of water then wipe this into the wood grain with a soft cloth. This way you'll lighten the wood and still be able to see the wood grain. This also works with a dark color. Like Hunter Green, Burgundy or Indigo mixed with mostly water and wiped into the wood-grain then the excess wiped off.


I hope I've given you a lot of ideas. Have fun painting! (07/30/2009)

By Cyinda

Painting a Dining Set

I completely agree with the previous post and as someone who refinishes furniture professionally (in many different ways), I can only emphasize the importance of prepping your surface first. You have 30 years of wax, polish, varnish, stain and dirt on that table, without the right prep work your paint will just peel off.

First be sure that it is real wood and that it has a stain or varnish on it, NOT laminate. After you clean it, if you don't want to sand it (which I highly recommend anyway) use a "liquid sandpaper" you can find at any DIY or Paint store. This will make the surface able to take a new paint. Also you could look into using kitchen cabinet paint, it is very durable and doesn't usually need a top coat to seal it.


The best thing is to try it on one leg or one chair first, that way you know what works and how it will look. 25 years ago I did this to a dining set when we were first married, I've changed the look of that table 3 times and now my daughter has it and changed it again, but I learned the hard way that preparation is the key to a good finish.

Have FUN, and let your creativity out! (07/31/2009)

By Thenicholas3

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