Painting a Coffee Table

Black painted furniture is a great way to add style and personality to your home. But painting furniture can be intimidating if you have never done it before. That’s why we created this guide – to show you the steps for painting a coffee table! With the right tools, materials, and instructions, anyone can paint a beautiful coffee table with ease.

In this post, we will walk you through the steps from start to finish, so that you can create an amazing piece of furniture for your home. Read on to learn more about painting a coffee table with a stained wood top!

photo of coffee table before makeover

Furniture painting can be a great way to add an extra element of style and personality into your home. It is also an economical way to update your furniture, transforming it from drab to fab in no time at all!

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So whether you are looking for tips on how to remove old finishes so you can stain the top of your coffee table or want to know which type of primer works best, this guide has everything you need to know about restaining and painting your old coffee table!

First, gather your supplies. Here are the things you’ll need to recreate this look on your coffee table.

Supplies for Painting a Coffee Table

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Get our list of the 10 best supplies for painting furniture so you don’t have to guess what the best supplies are!

Before Painting a Coffee Table

First, clean your dresser really well with a degreasing cleaner like Krud Kutter. This gets rid of any dirt or grease that might stop the paint from sticking properly. If you’re not sure how to clean your dresser, check out our cleaning before painting furniture post to learn more!

using krud kutter to clean table from dirt and grease

If you have any damage on your furniture, now is the time to fill the damage in. Here is our list of tutorials for repairing old furniture to help you with this step. If you just want to know what type of wood filler to use, here is our list of the best wood filler for furniture.

How to Refinish a Coffee Table Top

Once this coffee table was clean and repaired, we removed the old finish from the top so we could stain it again. There are a few different tools you can use to remove an old finish, here are the best tools for removing paint or stain from wood.

We used citristrip chemical stripper on this one, but a new stripper called Stripwell QCS has come out since then and it works way better with no fumes!

Check out how I removed old finish with Citristrip on my post about how to strip a kitchen table.

No matter what tool you use to remove the old finish from your furniture if you want to restain it, here is the step by step process for restaining furniture.

When the old finish was gone and the wood was dry, I lightly sanded the surface with 220 grit sandpaper to make it nice and smooth, and then I stained the raw wood with dark walnut wood stain and a rag.

Learn more about how to sand wood by hand here.

using a 220 grit sandpaper for sanding

Here is how to stain wood with a rag for more information on that process.

If you’re staining a larger surface and wondering if can you spray wood stain with a paint sprayer, check out this post to find out.

Then I let the stain dry completely, and I laid my stain saturated rags outside to dry completely before throwing them away.

Preparing for Painting a Coffee Table

Then use a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to gently scratch the surface of the rest of the coffee table. This helps the paint stick a lot better and it helps smooth out any rough places on the wood that will make the paint look weird.

Learn more about this step in our post about the importance of sanding before painting furniture.

Once the surface is smooth, clean up all the dust with a vacuum hose and then wipe everything down with a tack cloth to pick up any dust that was left behind.

Then, I put on a coat of clear shellac. This is like a primer that helps the paint stick better, and it stops stains from coming through paint and ruining your pretty paint job. Sometimes, stains will show through the paint even on dark colors like black.

It’s better to keep the stains away before you finish your project than having to fix them afterwards.

It’s also one of the few ways on how to get rid of smoke smell in furniture or any other unpleasant odors.

Clear shellac isn’t the only primer you can use. Here is our list of the best stain blocking primers to help you pick the right one.

Homemade Chalk Paint

For this coffee table, I used my homemade chalk paint recipe to turn black latex paint into chalk paint. Chalk paint sticks better to furniture than latex paint does, even if you use a bonding primer on your furniture before painting on the latex paint.

Learn about the common 5 chalk paint problems and how to fix them here!

The homemade chalk paint is a cheap way to get better paint for your furniture. To make this paint, you’ll need two things: Behr latex paint and calcium carbonate powder.

Mix some water with the powder. Then mix it in with your paint until it is smooth. The powder will make the paint chalky and help it stick to your dresser.

Check out more chalk paint recipes you can easily do for future projects!

mixing water and calcium carbonate powder before mixing it with paint

If you want to use fancier chalk paint, or you don’t want to mess up the simple recipe, here are some of the top chalk paint brands. Or, if you don’t want to put a topcoat on the chalk paint, here are the best all in one paints that already have everything in one can.

All in one paint is super easy to use and in my opinion better than chalk paint is.

Painting a Coffee Table

When it’s time to put the paint on, you have a few choices. You can use a brush, a roller, or a paint sprayer. Here are the best paint brushes and the best rollers for painting furniture. And here are the best paint sprayers for furniture.

Paint on about 2 layers of paint to get full coverage, especially with black paint, you shouldn’t need more than 3 coats of paint to get full coverage.

I like using the sprayer because it’s easy and fast. It also makes the dresser look really nice. But if you don’t have experience with a sprayer, you can just use a brush or roller to paint your dresser.

Learn how to paint furniture with a sprayer here.

Making your own chalk paint is great because it dries quickly so you can put on lots of coats in a short time. Wait two hours after you finish the last coat before adding a topcoat.

Topcoating Chalk Painted Furniture

Chalk paint needs a topcoat to protect it. It is like a sponge and not strong enough on its own. So, unfortunately, you have to topcoat it with a polyurethane or a wax topcoat. How do you choose which one to use?

Here is our wax vs polyurethane post to help guide your decision.

I personally really like using a water-based polyurethane as a topcoat because it protects against scratches and makes the chalk paint easy to clean.

photo of varathane polyurethane and high quality zibra topcoat brush

Apply three layers of a water-based Varathane polyurethane topcoat using a brush or a paint sprayer for a smoother look. Here’s how to apply polycrylic (known as waterbased polyurethane) by hand, and here’s how to spray polyurethane with a paint sprayer.

As for the stained wood top, make sure the oil based stain has dried for 48 hours to make sure it is completely dry before you put a waterbased polyurethane on top of it.

If you don’t want to wait, you can use an oil based polyurethane on this project, even on the black paint because the black is so dark. But the oil based polyurethane will take much longer to dry, so I don’t prefer to use oil based polyurethane unless I have to.

Wait at least 24 hours after you paint the table before using it. The paint and topcoat will take 30 days to get as strong as it can be.

Here’s what our painted coffee table looked like after we were done!

close up photo of coffee table after makeover
full view photo of coffee table after makeover

More Before And After Makeovers

Click any of these “before” photos below to view the “after” of that makeover.

close up photo of coffee table after makeover

Painting a Coffee Table

black painted coffee table with dark stained wood top

Do you want to add a new style and personality to your home through a coffee table? Check out this step by step guide to painting a coffee table using homemade chalk paint.


  1. Clean your furniture using Krud Kutter and repair any damage.
  2. Using a chemical stripper, remove the old finish from the top of your coffee table. Let it dry, then lightly sand the surface with 220 grit sandpaper.
  3. Stain the wood with a dark walnut wood stain and a rag, and let it dry completely.
  4. Scuff sand the surface of the rest of the furniture using 220 grit sandpaper. Once smooth, clean the dust with a vacuum and tack cloth, and apply clear shellac.
  5. Mix Behr latex paint, calcium carbonate powder, and water to make homemade chalk paint.
  6. Using a brush, roller, or paint sprayer, apply 2 layers of paint and let it dry.
  7. Using a brush or a paint sprayer, apply 3 layers of a water-based Varathane polyurethane. For the stained wood top, wait 48 hours before applying a water-based polyurethane, or use an oil-based polyurethane if you don't want to wait.
  8. Wait 24 hours after you paint before using the table.

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photo of coffee table before makeover

One Comment

  1. Esmé Slabbert says:

    I love the final outcome and how you have upgraded this table.
    Thank you for sharing your links with us at #272 SSPS Linky. See you again next week.

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