Repairing Wood Table Finish?

April 17, 2007

Wood Table FinishJust purchased a used coffee table that needs help. The stain on the wood was done poorly. Do I need to strip it to re-stain or can I stain over the old stain.


Rose from Malvern, PA


April 18, 20071 found this helpful
Best Answer


Usually you will want to strip it before you stain. In many cases, it will be hard to find an exact-match to the existing stain and even if you do get lucky enough to get a close match, there is no guarantee that the stain will absorb in the same way.

Depending on the damage / wear and tear, you might try putting a coating of Old English furniture polish on it before you go to the trouble of stripping and re-staining. I have found that you can often times get light surface scratches, etc, out with it.

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27 More Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

January 31, 2017

I put a piece of tape on a table on accident and the varnish or coating came off. I was wondering how I can repair it?


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January 31, 20170 found this helpful

It needs to be sanded down and refinished. I think the entire table top must be done for an undetectable repair. I would hire a pro for this if the table is expensive or means a lot to you.


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February 1, 20170 found this helpful

You do not say what kind of table (or size of table) so it may be difficult to accurately pinpoint a solution.

Damage like this will be difficult for a "lay" person to repair so you might want to consider just using a small table scarf to hide the damage. If it is a small table then you might be able to refinish it, but if it is an expensive table, of any size, then you should just find a professional to do the job.


Here is some advice from a professional:

Any repair that involves removing the damaged finish completely -- deep scratches, gouges, burns, or any other damage -- also involves refinishing the repair area. Spot refinishing is not always easy, and it's not always successful, especially on stained surfaces. If the damage isn't too bad, it's worth trying. If you'll have to touch up several areas on one surface, you're probably better off refinishing the surface or the piece of furniture completely.

Here is a web site that explains how to repair the finish: Just scroll down to Spot Refinishing:

February 5, 20170 found this helpful

You can buy paint pens that are the same color as your furniture for touch ups. Most furniture stores have them and I have even seen them for sale at dollar stores. Good Luck.


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February 7, 20170 found this helpful

If this is an inexpensive table then some of these have a "paper" like finish that will peel off very easily and may not be worth spending a lot of money for repairs.


I have just returned from a Dollar Tree store and they have a set of 3 "color" pens for touching up furniture. You just start with the lightest shade and keep adding each shade until you reach a match to your item. Maybe this would work for you - at least it would be inexpensive and also very easy.

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January 22, 2017

The feet of a lazy Susan melted into the finish of the table. Also a mug over heated in the microwave and melted the finish through a mat.

How do I repair? I was going to give it a light sanding then apply a coat of satin Varathane.


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January 22, 20170 found this helpful

You can sand it with very fine steel wool. They have matching wood crayons. There is also spray lacquer to finish the job.


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January 23, 20170 found this helpful

Different methods can work for many finishes but you should consider the value of the table before doing anything that you may regret.

You will need to use very find steel wool to carefully remove any buildup before thinking about how to finish.


If you are just going to try and make the table presentable you could try using Old English - they make a scratch cover in dark and light. This works pretty good.

Minwax also makes these stain markers you can use to cover smaller scratches and they have a pretty wide range of colors. You can find them at Walmart or Lowes.

Generally you will need to use a good wax once you are satisfied with the repair.

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January 2, 2010

I tried the hot iron method for removing a water stain and I believe that I may have taken off some of the finish on my antique mahogany table. Some of the stain is still there and I am in process of the mayo suggestion now, as the iron thing did not work so well. Any way to resurrect the finish?

By Steph from Gainesville, FL


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January 3, 20100 found this helpful

Go of info there, good luck.

January 7, 20100 found this helpful

This method truly does work, I have used it several times on different colored antique surfaces. Take cigarette ashes & cooking oil, make a paste, & rub it onto the water stain. The way I usually do it is put the end of a rag over my finger, dip it in cooking oil I have put in a saucer, then dip it into the ashes until they are pretty thick on the end of my finger & rub.


You may need to go over the same area several times before you start seeing any results, but it will work. It's totally amazing & not really all that much work!

November 13, 20160 found this helpful

If you mix ash and vegetable oil to a paste, then rub it on the white marks, it should go.

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July 27, 2016

While trying to clean sticky film from a wooden table, I rubbed the finish off down to the natural wood. It now is exposed and a different color than rest of table. What can I do?


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February 27, 20170 found this helpful

Wood finish stain markers work great as a cosmetic option. I've had tables that look terrible look excellent just by drawing them with the right shade of marker - (Affiliate Link)


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February 28, 20170 found this helpful

They have wood crayons for this purpose. You can get them at hardware and home stores.

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July 26, 2016

I have a Hooker desk that I put a desk mat on. When I went to lift the mat, there was a sticky residue on the desk surface where the mat had been. I have been unable to remove it with wood cleaner and now paper sticks to the desk surface where the mat once was.

Is there anything I can do to repair this? Thank you for your recommendations.


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July 27, 20160 found this helpful

I use cooking or mineral oil to remove labels from jars (the ones I want to re-use). The oil works great when removing those tacky / gummy residues.


I wonder if it would work on your wood surface as well? Worst case, you won't damage the surface of the desk (wood loves oil).

October 30, 20200 found this helpful

What ended up working for you?

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September 14, 2015

My table has spots from what looks like some sort of spray. I tried Guardsman Deep Clean, but it didn't do a thing. How can I get the spots off?


September 15, 20150 found this helpful

It may sound weird, Kristin, but mayonnaise might help. My experience? I left a houseplant sitting on my piano bench and put a crocheted doily under the pot. Turns out the doily hid the fact I overwatered and man, what a nasty stain that left! It may even have been someone on this site who recommended using mayonnaise. I did. And be darned if it didn't take away the worst of the stain. I would, however, recommend testing a patch in an unobtrusive area, just to be sure it'll help your situation and not leave you cursing at me.

Good luck!


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September 16, 20150 found this helpful

It is hard to know what to recommend when you don't know what has caused the spots. Another thing that might help, if it looks like the finish is damaged, is rubbing with a walnut. I don't think that would hurt anyway. Like the mayonnaise, it would return some oil to the finish.

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November 6, 2014

I live in the desert 6 months at a time. I left plastic place mats on the table when I left and I now have 4 square marks on the table, not white or anything maybe more like shadows. Can any body help me?

By E. Buckshaw


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November 8, 20140 found this helpful

Leave the table uncovered, and perhaps, over time, the sun will fade the table to all one shade. I suspect that is what has happened. However, it may be that the plastic has discoloured the table top as well. However, other than covering the spots, letting them fade over time is the only suggestion I have. I am sure there is nothing you can do with cleaners or anything like that.

May 8, 20170 found this helpful

Try some good old Olive oil... apply it heavy over the entire table using a soft cloth (throw the cloth away when finished, it will be saturated) Let it alone while you do something else, letting it set will absorb the oil which is great for wood anyway. After letting it set for a while take another soft cloth and rub back and forth the way of the wood grain, continue rubbing and wala! Table looks like new! This is great for any stains (water, heat, etc) Marilyn

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November 21, 2006

I have a question about repairing wood tables. I placed a hot pan on a piece of newspaper that was laying on the dining table. When I realized what I'd done I jerked it up and took the paper up, leaving a circular ridge on the table. It's almost as if the paper fibers stuck to the table. I've tried to get it off with baking soda and toothpaste and it's not worked. The mixture has left a very shiny spot on my otherwise soft matte finish table. So now I have this raised burned mark that is highlighted by a glassy shine. What should I do?



November 22, 20060 found this helpful

Being in the woodworking arena for quite some time I've restored everything from antique pianos to end tables. Short of taking it back down to the natural wood and refinishing it you have to find the base product that the stain is made from in this case I would say it's the newspaper ink. Since the paper itself is a wood byproduct that shouldn't be you problem. I would call your local newspaper and ask them if they would know what would break down newspaper ink as I'm sure various inks are comprised of different base products.

By Finisnash (Guest Post)
November 22, 20060 found this helpful

Thanks! I'll phone the newspaper and inquire about their ink. Now, what can I do to minimize the high gloss that must be a result of either the baking soda or toothpaste? My table has a satin finish, so this REALLY shiny spot is very noticable.

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July 10, 2006

I spilled cherry Crystal Light on my light wood kitchen table. Without thinking, I used a magic sponge to get the red stain off. The sponge took off the stain and the finish as well. So far I am touching it up with Old English (for light wood).

This only works temporarily because when you wipe the table clean some of the wax comes off until there is once again a bare spot. Is there any way I can fix this without refinishing an entire table top (which isn't an option right now)?

SusannL from St. Cloud, FL


By Margie Minard (Guest Post)
July 13, 20060 found this helpful

I have refinished a couple of old things I found at yard sales with Homer Formby's refinishing and very fine steel wool. Just pour a good bit of the Homer Formby formula on the steel wool and move in circular motions until the entire surface is covered. Then, use another piece of steel wool and some clean formula in light, long strokes across the entire surface of the table. After the table has dried, cover with two coats of polyurathane acording to the directions. You can refinish just about anything for a total of $30 or so. Follow the directions and you can't go wrong. All of the items can be purchased at Walmart.

July 14, 20060 found this helpful

Minwax makes these stain markers you can use to cover small scratches and they have a pretty wide range of colors. You can find them at WalMart or Lowes.

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March 15, 2016

3 years ago I placed a heavy rubber mat on the top of a stored wooden table. Now after removing the mat, the finish has small bubbles and small raised spots.

Is there a fix without refinishing?


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September 11, 20170 found this helpful

Step 1
Place a damp cloth on the table top. Use your iron to iron the cloth. This will force moisture into the veneer and make it flexible.

Step 2
Place a damp cloth over the blistered area. Now cut small slits into each blister or bubble.

Step 3
Press on each bubble to get all the air out of the bubble

Step 4
Use white glue and squeeze it into the slit of each bubble. The glue needs to be under the bubble and next to the wood base.

Step 5
Press the glue into place

Step 6
If you don't have wood clamps you will need to place a heavy object over the area that was glued. Allow this to set for 8 hours.

Step 7
Remove the heavy object from the table top and wipe off excess glue. If there are too many bubbles or raised area you will need to refinish the table top if this doesn't work for you.

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March 7, 2016

My nail polish remover with acetone made a stain on my black nightstand that came off when I moved the nail polish remover top. What do I do?

Acetone Damaged Finish on Wood Nightstand


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September 13, 20170 found this helpful

You can get a black paint to match and I high gloss topcoat.

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February 20, 2016

My table has a round spot down to bare wood from a guest placing a hot coffee pot on it. It isn't the white mark that many people talk about, this is a round spot where all of the finish is gone down to bare wood the size of the bottom of a coffee pot.


February 21, 20160 found this helpful

Why not invite your "guest" over for a "sanding the table" party? Sandpaper, stain, lacquer and elbow grease are the ingredients necessary to repair the damage.

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