How to Strip a Kitchen Table

Give your kitchen table a whole new look by removing the old stain. With a little bit of patience and elbow grease, you can turn your old worn out dining table into a stunning farmhouse table. Here’s how to strip a kitchen table.

Get more furniture makeover ideas here!

kitchen table before stripping off old finish

I found this old kitchen table for only $50 on Facebook! It’s solid wood, the leaf is stored under the table, it seats 8 and it has big chunky farmhouse-style legs.

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Here’s what it looked like before I stripped it. It was the perfect find to replace our old dining table that was falling apart.

The finish needed a bit of updating and I couldn’t wait to see what was under the old finish! You’ll never believe how simple it was. 

I recently tried a new chemical stripper that I love even more than this method. Check out my Stripwell QCS review to see why I like it!

scroll down to see the after photos

Supplies Used To Strip A Kitchen Table

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Lay Down Plastic and Remove Table Legs

We started by placing plastic shower curtains from the dollar store down to protect the floor. I’ve also used cardboard boxes to protect the floor.

Read this post to learn more about How to Prevent Overspray When Painting Furniture.

Then we placed the table top on a couple of 5-gallon buckets to lift it off the ground, and I stood the legs upright on their own. I also opened up the table so I could get to the leaf.

Kitchen table ready to strip

I used Citristrip to remove wood stain on this table. Stripping furniture with Citristrip is the easiest way (and the least stinky way) that I have found to strip.

Learn more about How to Remove Wood Stain and the Best Wood Stain Removers here.

How to Use Citristrip

So I grabbed my all-time favorite wood stripper and started pouring the orange goo all over the table and legs.

Citristrip and a cheap paint brush

Brush Stripper All Over The Table

I used an old bristle brush (dollar store paint brushes for the win!) to brush the Citristrip all over the place. I like to lay it on thick, especially on the sides.

citristrip all over kitchen table top

I’ve heard of placing plastic wrap over the stripper to keep it moist for longer. Next time I’m going to try that!

((Update: I have since tried the plastic wrap trick on a few pieces, including this weathered wood dresser makeover in this Refinishing an Old Dresser post and holy moly it helps a lot!))

How Long to Let Stripper Sit on Furniture?

Then I left it for a few hours to do its thing.

After a while, I tested a small area to see how easily the old finish came off (if it is hard to get off completely it needs more time, if it comes off with ease it’s time to start scraping!)

Scrape Off the Stripper

After putting on my gloves I used a putty knife (plastic is best to avoid scratching the wood) to remove all of the stripper and finish off into a small bowl.

Before and After how to strip a kitchen table
Before and After a quick removal of the old finish. The “after” still needs to be cleaned with mineral spirits and steel wool.

How to Remove Citristrip Residue

Once the majority of the stripper was removed, I grabbed some steel wool and mineral spirits.

The mineral spirits combined with the steel wool scrub off any excess or harder-to-remove finish and is seriously the best way to remove Citristrip!

I went through about 5 or 6 rolls of steel wool in this project.

**A little tip is to pull the rolls apart into 3 pieces. Then every time the steel wool seems gummed up I turn it over until all the steel wool is completely covered in goo. Then it’s time for a new one.

I used paper towels dipped in mineral spirits to wipe off any excess stripper as well.

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At this point, the table resembled a weathered wood finish.

There was a bit of old finish left in a few knicks and dings, but that just adds to the weathered wood look. This was exactly how I had envisioned it!

You can also DIY the weathered look, check out my post about the best stain for weathered wood look.

Let Stripped Table Dry and Lightly Sand

I let it dry a couple of days before I gave it a light sanding to make the wood completely smooth.

Learn all about the best Sandpaper for Furniture here!

Then I wiped the table and legs down with a tack cloth to remove any extra dust that was left from sanding.

Seal the Raw Wood

Once everything was wiped down completely I used a cut-up white t-shirt to apply the Minwax Wipe on Poly.

I made sure to apply it with the grain in long even strokes, letting it dry completely before applying the next coat.

Since it is a dining table that I expect to have heavy wear and tear I applied 6 thin coats on the top and 3 thin coats on the legs.

I love the Minwax Wipe-On Poly to seal wood because it protects it super well.

You can also spray polyurethane on if you have a paint sprayer and the right kind of poly.

That was all there was to it! Super easy! But it does take some patience.

If the table wasn’t the right shade after I stripped it, I would have easily grabbed a can of the color of the stain I wanted and applied a thin coat, wiped it off, and let it dry.

Your wood might come up a bit orange, here’s how to tone down orange wood furniture.

Read this post to learn about the Best Wood Stains for Refinishing Furniture.

Or if you want a new look, you can try painting a dining table black like what we did in this makeover. Wondering “is chalk paint durable for kitchen table?“, check out this post to learn more.

Once the color was what I wanted I then would proceed with the Minwax Wipe on Poly to protect the finish.

Make sure to let the polyurethane dry for 48 hours, and then be super, super careful with it for a month while it cures completely.

closeup of Stripped Kitchen Tabletop
stripped

More Before And After Makeovers

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

closeup of stripped kitchen table

How Long Can You Leave Citristrip On?

Since Citristrip isn’t a harsh stripper, you can leave Citristrip on wood for up to 36 hours. I’ve even left it on wood veneer for that long without it causing any problems with the veneer.

I typically like to leave the Citristrip on overnight with some plastic wrap over it to make sure it doesn’t dry out.

What to do if Citristrip Dries?

If the Citristrip dries, it will stop removing the stain or paint that you are trying to remove. As long as the stripper is wet, it will continue to eat through the old finish.

But once it’s dry, it will stop eating through the finish.

You can put more Citristrip over the dry Citristrip to reactivate it. Or you can scrape it off and put another coat of stripper on if it didn’t remove all of the paint or stain.

What Happens if You Leave Citristrip on Too Long?

The worst thing that I have had happen is that the Citristrip will dry out.

I left it on for a couple of days on accident and it was just dry. So I put more stripper on and started again.

scroll up if you missed the after photos

How to Strip a Kitchen Table

DIY weathered wood kitchen table

Give your kitchen table a whole new look by removing the old stain. Here's how to strip a kitchen table.

Materials

Instructions

  1. Remove the legs from the table, lay plastic to protect the floor then place the table top on a couple of buckets.
  2. Brush Citristrip all over the stained table and let the stripper sit for a few hours.
  3. Put on some gloves and scrape off the stripper with a plastic putty knife.
  4. Grab some steel wool and mineral spirits to scrub off any excess and harder-to-remove finish.
  5. Let the stripped wood dry for a couple of days then sand the wood lightly. Wipe down the table and legs to remove any extra dust left from sanding.
  6. Seal the raw wood with some poly. Make sure to apply it with the grain in long even strokes, letting it dry completely before applying the next coat. You can apply 6 thin coats on the table top and 3 thin coats on the legs.

Recommended Products

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before and after of a diy table makeover
kitchen table before stripping off old finish
BEFORE
before and after stripping a kitchen table

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