Painting and Decorating Made Easier!

Finishing a Table Top

One surface stands out in both residential and business settings: a smooth table top. This includes the kitchen variety, wood desks, living room coffee tables, lamp and corner tables, and many others.

A top, which has a fine finished surface, has always been a desirable, and valuable, addition to any living and office space environment.

The goal is to create an ultra smooth, high performance finish. One where the grain of the wood or painted surface is pleasing, aesthetically.

Typically, the choices of finish include (1) a stain-clearcoat application and (2) a semi-gloss, or full-gloss oil-based coating system. The stain-clearcoat uses a semi-gloss or full gloss coating system. If the table top is to be painted, a semi-gloss or gloss oil-based paint is recommended.

COMPLETE FINISHING METHOD  – (To achieve the highest quality finish available.)

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

1. Suitable work area.

– Includes: covered floor (eg. dropcloth), adequate lighting and. proper ventilation.

2. Proper safety attire, gear and equipment for finishing process.

– Includes: Safety glasses/goggles, rubber gloves (up to mid-forearm), breathing respirator.

– Suggested: Disposable work suit.

3. Necessary items such as products, tools, supplies and equipment.

A. Products: Coating(s), primers, paint and varnish remover, lacquer thinner, etc.

B. Supplies: Mild soap and water, sponges, garbage container, “Tack rags,” clean/soft rags, masking tape, clear plastic sheeting (roll), clean drop cloth(s), sandpaper (grades No. 120, 180 or 220, and 320 or 400).

C. Tools: Scraper, wire brush, paint/finishing brushes, rollers/roller covers, putty/wall joint knife; also tools for painting process.

D. Equipment: Sander (air-operated or electric).

~ FINISHING PROCEDURE ~

For a Stain-Clearcoat Finish

1. Remove top surface layers from table top.

A. Evenly spread the chemical remover onto the surface.\

B. As finish begins to lift, scrape clean until no more residue exists or comes off.

C. Clean surface with soap and water solution until clean.

D. Then thoroughly dry with a clean, soft cloth.

E. Re-wipe surface with lacquer thinner to remove any residual finish, and to open wood grain.

F. Leave to fully dry.

2. Sand surface in stages, using sandpapers in gradually-decreased grades.

A. Begin with #120. Sand entire surface in the direction of the wood grain, if it is to be finished with a stain and clear coat system.

B. Sand with #180 or #220 sandpaper.

C. Remove all dust, using dry, clean cloth.

D. Final sand, using #320 or #400 grade paper.

TIP: An air operated or electric sander can be used to promote production and ease sanding.

3. Fill wood grain with filler, if ultra smooth finish is desired.

A. Evenly spread paste-type water based filler or putty onto surface, using a putty knife or wall joint knife.

B. Let the filler and surface dry, according to manufacturer’s recommendation.

C. Sand with #220 grade sandpaper; then follow with either #320 or #400.

D. Reapply if necessary. And, re-sand surface as in “C” above.

4. Wipe entire surface clean and “tack rag” the surface in preparation for the initial finish.

5. Apply stain, using a rag or sponge.

A. Liberally wipe the surface from one end of table to the other.

B. Depending on penetration of stain, reapply it to achieve desired color.

C. Let dry for 12-24 hours.

6. Seal stained surface with appropriate wood sealer or shellac.

A. Apply a thin coat of sealer on the table top surface.

B. TIP: Make several passes to help eliminate bubbling.

Tools: 1 inch china bristle brush, and a 9 inch by ¼ inch Mohair, or non-shed synthetic, roller cover and frame.

C. Let dry for 8-12 hours.

D. Sand the surface with #220 sandpaper, followed by #320.

E. Dust the surface with cloth rag.

F. Then, with “tack cloth, remove all particles. TIP: Take your time. Get it all!

7. Apply second coat of sealer to table.

A. Let dry.

B. and accordingly.

C. Tack down surface.

8. Apply selected top coat finish(varnish, urethane, acrylic, or polyurethane) to top.

A. Use same application method used in the sealing process in step 6.

B. Let dry 12-24 hours.

C. and surface with dry #320 or #400 sandpaper, OR wet sand with #600 paper to dull surface sheen.

D. “Tack cloth” surface down.

9. Apply second coat of top finish.

A. Let dry.

B. Sand using suitable graded sandpaper.

C. Tack surface if multiple coats are desired, or specified.

TIP: After surface has fully cured, a wax can be applied for protection.

For a Painted Finish

1. Painting a table top.

A. Strip previously each failed coatings.*

B. Sand in stages. TIP: Sand after each step, also before applying each finish coat.

C. Fill low areas as needed.

D. Wipe surface with tack cloth.

E. Prime the entire table top if necessary.

F. Apply the finish coats. Use the same application method used to apply the sealers or clear top finishes. (Recommended paint finishes include enamel, polyurethane and urethane.)

* TIP: The quality and appearance of the final finish will depend, in large part, on the careful and thorough removal of maximum layers of previously failed coatings.

THE KEYS TO AN EXCEPTIONAL TABLE TOP FINISH

1. Apply the paint or clear finish as thinly as possible.

2. Clean and “tack cloth” the surfaces between each stage of sanding.

TIP: The table can be finished using a fine spray finishing method, if an automotive-like finish is desired.

Refinishing table tops tends to be a standard part of any hotel or facility  painter’s job.

RELAX! if this is the first time you’ve been faced with refinishing a table top.

TAKE YOUR TIME! Do one table first.

ALLOW YOURSELF plenty of work space. Great ventilation. Low or no traffic area.

Allow yourself plenty of BETWEEN time. Between steps. Between coats. Between steps and dry times.

GOOD LUCK!

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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Copyright 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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