How to Get a Weathered Wood Look on Your Kitchen Table Top Using Paint & Stain

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Your kitchen table is one of the hardest working pieces of furniture you’ll ever have in your home!

Whatever finish you get on your kitchen tabletop needs to be able to stand up to regular wiping down and lots of everyday wear. 

For that reason, staining your kitchen tabletop is usually a better move than painting it–over time, a stained wood surface is going to hold up better than a painted surface will (and that goes for whatever kind of paint you use!)

But let’s be honest . . . the process of stripping and sanding down a tabletop to re-stain it can be kind of a pain! 

What I wanted to find was an easier way to update a table, but still have a beautiful, wood-look top that also would have great durability.

And I think I’ve got it! I’m excited to share this makeover with you today because I know you will be able to use this technique to update your own kitchen table using just paint and stain, without the messy and time-consuming process of totally refinishing it.


The Kitchen Table to Makeover

These round oak tables are a dime a dozen at the thrift stores and garage sales here around me (you may have one in your kitchen right now!).

They are great, sturdy tables, but unfortunately, that dark oak wood is not the look most people want in their kitchens these days. It’s easy to update the table base with paint, but the top is what is a bit more challenging.

Follow along though, and I can show you how to get a whole new look with just 2 steps!


Materials & Preparing to Paint


The first step is always to properly prep your furniture before you paint.

I start by scrubbing my pieces down with Fusion’s TSP to get rid of any grease and grimy buildup (read more about why you should clean your furniture here), then wipe off all the residue with a rag damp with water.

Next, it’s good to give your surface and good scuff with some mid-grit sandpaper (180 ish) to give the paint something to grip to. Your sanding doesn’t have to be extreme–just 5 to 10 minutes roughing the surface up a bit. 

If you’re painting a surface that’s super slick or that is not real wood (like a wood laminate top), then a base coat of Fusion’s Ultra Grip will help your paint adhere better. 


Painting Your Kitchen Table

Once the table was prepped, I painted the entire table with the bright white color Casement

When painting bright white on a dark surface, be prepared to use 3-4 coats to get full coverage. That’s completely normal for bright white, in any paint line!

Read more about challenges painting white here.

I believe I painted, in total, 3 coats on the base and probably 2 coats on the top. With the top I wasn’t worried about 100% full coverage, since I knew I was going to add another element of color on top.


Adding the Gray Weathered Wood Look to Your Kitchen Tabletop

Now comes the fun part!

Once the paint was dry on the top, I poured directly onto the surface a bit of Fusion’s Stain & Finishing Oil in the color Driftwood. 

This stuff is really forgiving and easy to work with! And it has a low odor, so you can use it inside with no problem.

Once I got a bit on the table, I brushed it all over using a chip brush, then started wiping it back in long, smooth strokes going all one direction.

I just folded up an old t-shirt in my hand, and ran it along the tabletop from one side to the other, working my way across the whole table. 

Wiping it in one direction like this helps mimic the look of grain lines, as your stain winds up being applied slightly unevenly.

Don’t worry if the first coat doesn’t look so hot! It took me 4 coats in total, waiting 8 hours in between each coat, until I got the look I wanted.

The great thing about the SFO is that not only can it give you this cool wood-grain look when applied like this, but it also is a very durable product.

It is a stain and oil-based topcoat in one product, so there is no need to apply anything else on top to seal the surface.

Four coats on top of the white paint will give the durability of a stained tabletop without having to actually strip and re-stain the whole thing!


Finished Look

Here is the new top–all done with just white paint and stain!

Can you believe the difference?  A fresh, on-trend, light wood-look top and all without breaking out the heavy sander or stripper!

The key is wiping off the SFO in those straight lines–and then walking away and letting each coat dry! That’s how you get that wood look.

So fresh and clean now, AND durable!

I really encourage you to give this technique a try! It can work on coffee tables, dresser tops, nightstands–any place where you want to create a lighter, wood-look top without stripping and re-staining the furniture.


Pin this Resource!

As always, you find all of the products I used for this makeover at my local NW Arkansas Painted Furniture Studio, or shop with over 3,000 other customers in my Online Shop!

Thank you SO much for joining me today! I hope you give this technique a try!




Wednesday 30th of August 2023

Hello from Tulsa! I have this very table as well. I've painted it a couple of times and recently repainted to go in new home. I used a base of white latex, then dry brushed a couple of chalk paint colors, and ended with dry brushing white. However, because there was some water damage, once I dry brushed some white on it, the water spots showed up more. I am trying to come up with a way to just add a little darker color over the top to so the water damage isn't as noticeable. I like the look of your table with the driftwood SFO. Do you think this could be used over my painted table top? I really don't want to start over :) Also, would the Driftwood look good in a home with light gray painted walls (BM Collingwood), charcoal, white, lavender and navy accents? I'm stuck on what to do next. Thanks so much for your time. Tami

Melanie Alexander

Thursday 31st of August 2023

Hi Tami! Yes, you can use the Driftwood SFO over the chalk paint, as long as you haven't applied any wax. I wonder if the water in the chalk paint kinda pulled through those water damage spots? Strange it would make them show up more. And I do think the Driftwood color would look nice with that color scheme you mentioned!


Wednesday 16th of August 2023

Could you do this technique on a dining room table?? Or just add a sealer at the end? Thanks!

Melanie Alexander

Thursday 17th of August 2023

Hi Megan! Yes, you can! The product I use is a stain and sealer in one, it has great durability. If you use a different stain, you can add an extra polyacrylic topcoat if you like :)


Monday 3rd of July 2023

Hi! I’m attempting this look tomorrow.. I sanded down my table to initially re stain but there’s a protective vinyl on it and I can’t sand down past that.. so I have a large area that is totally down to the vinyl and this look will save my table top! Can I just use stain or do I have to use an SFO to achieve this look? Can I just use multiple coats of a stain and then a poly after? Will white primer work for the white base or should it have a gloss to it? Thank you!!

Melanie Alexander

Tuesday 4th of July 2023

Hi Rachelle! Glad you found a solution! I haven't tested this with other stains, but I imagine you can achieve the same look. I would try to find an oil-based stain. The reason I like the SFO is that it's one step--applies the color and seals all in one. But if you want to use a regular stain and poly top that should work fine as well. And a white primer should work also, just make sure it's painted on fully opaque, where you can't see through it. I would test your method on a piece of scrap wood first as well, always helpful before you tackle your main project. Good luck!


Saturday 1st of July 2023

Hi! I'm getting ready to use this driftwood stain on a kitchen table that is a medium wood color. Do I need to paint the top white first? Or could I sand and apply the stain directly on the wood?

Melanie Alexander

Monday 3rd of July 2023

Hi LeAnn! You can sand your table back down to raw wood and then use this product direct as a stain if you like. To use as a true penetrating stain, all the current finish needs to be sanded or stripped off your table first.


Saturday 24th of June 2023

Beautiful, I have a set of furniture I’d like to try this with. Please provide some guidance on how you handles drips or accumulations on the ends and made the sides look good too. I’ve used the one direction wipe technique on the top of thinner woods & it looks Great! But I struggle with the sides and the supporting base trim looking like real wood too. Bonus points for a video 🤞🏼

Melanie Alexander

Monday 26th of June 2023

It does take a bit of extra work to get the sides and edges to look nice. With regards to drips, it's best to hang around for the first bit while it's drying, and wipe any drips that you see as you wait. If they dry, they will dry hard and you won't be able to correct them. You could also try working with a brush on tight areas, that helps keep the "grain" look of wood a bit more.

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