How To Stain A Table Top – Get a Professional Finish

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Here’s how to stain a table top for a beautiful, durable, professional looking finish – the easy way!

Guy’s, I’m so excited to share this DIY tutorial with you. Because I’ve figured out a super easy way to get this stain finish. Here’s how to stain a table top for a beautiful, durable, professional looking finish – the easy way! Using just 3 easy to apply products. πŸ™‚

I designed this stain look to match all of the Dark Wood Store-Bought furniture in my home. I noticed that everything I buy has the same stain finish. It’s a dark stain but with depth and darker accents in the grooves and around corners. I love that beautiful, rich, dark stain finish. Now I know how to get that look. *Happy Dance*

And, it’s actually super easy to recreate at home. I used my absolute favorite, and easy to apply, wood finishing product, Danish Oil. Topped that with a few layers of glaze. Then finished it off with Wipe On Poly. All 3 products I picked are so easy and fast to apply. Just watch the how to stain a table top video to see for yourself. πŸ™‚

Easy to Do DIY Steps and Video - How to Stain a Table Top with a dark wood stain finish. Uses 3 easy to apply products for this professional looking finish.
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Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for DIY project sneak peeks and quick how-to videos. Now, let’s get to the steps for how to stain a table top..


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Watch the DIY Table Top Stain Video Here

Seeing someone do something always helps me understand the DIY project better. Watch this 5-minute video for a better look at each step. πŸ™‚

Here’s What You’ll Need

How to Stain a Table Top – Steps

Step One

Prep your unfinished wood for stain. For my Maple Plywood Top, I sanded with 120-grit and 180-grit. Some wood may need a higher grit. Do a quick google search, if you don’t know. Be sure to wipe it clean with a tack cloth or clean rag to remove all dust between grits and after sanding.

IF YOUR WOOD ALREADY HAS STAIN, you may not need to strip it. Here’s a few tips to think about. I just refinished my kitchen stools without stripping. I’ll share that soon. But, I got a very similar look to this DIY table top stain by applying General Finishes Gel Stain in Java. It covers existing stain beautifully. After using that gel stain, protect with the wipe on poly.

Applying Danish Oil in Black Walnut to a Maple Wood Table Top

Step Two

Apply Danish Oil in Black Walnut with a clean, lint free rag. I use old socks and t-shirts with this product. With Danish Oil, I just pour a bit on and wipe it around. I keep pouring a little at a time until the wood isn’t absorbing anymore. Wipe off the excess oil with a clean rag so that it won’t dry tacky.

Danish Oil is a favorite product of mine because it looks so beautiful, is easy to wipe on, AND the oils soak into the wood and harden – making the wood strong and more durable. I even use this as a primer under chalk paint sometimes just to get that extra bit of durability. πŸ™‚

Applying General Finishes Van Dyke Brown Glaze to a table top.

Step Three

After the Danish Oil dries, you apply 3 to 4 coats of the Van Dyke Brown Glaze with a Foam Brush. Follow the instructions on the glaze and work fast to get the best result. Once a section of the glaze dries, don’t brush over it. This can be applied pretty fast, just work from one side to the other with nice even strokes.

I used a nylon brush for my first coat (in video), but I really didn’t like the fine brush strokes that the nylon brush makes with a glaze. So, I switched to a Foam Brush and it was perfection. It applied faster and completely smooth. The glaze adds depth and richness to the overall look of this table top finish.

Applying wipe on water based poly with a foam brush.

Step Four

The fourth step in this “How to Stain a Table Top” tutorial is the top coat. You need to seal the table top with a good, durable water-based polyurethane. I used a Wipe-On Poly that I absolutely love because it’s so easy to apply. Be sure to wipe away any little bits of dust with a tack cloth, or slightly damp rag, between coats.

I wiped on 10 coats of this over a couple days. For furniture that gets less abuse than a table top, I’d go for 6 coats of this wipe on poly. The first 2 or 3 coats don’t look great, because this finish is so thin. But, then on coat 4 or 5, it’s perfectly smooth and shiny.

Easy to Do DIY Steps and Video - How to Stain a Table Top with a dark wood stain finish. Uses 3 easy to apply products for this professional looking finish.
Here’s a close look at the finished table top.

I normally say to follow the directions on a product, but I will say, for this wipe on poly, don’t sand unless you need to.Β It really does go on so thin, you pretty much sand it clean off without much effort. And, when you do sand between coats, use a very high grit, like 1000 or up. And, just lightly sand.

I’d really only sand this poly if you get little bits of dust or something dried in it. You can even use a plain brown lunch bag to sand something like that up. It has a similar grit to a 1000-grit sanding black.

That’s it. Let this table top finish cure for a couple weeks before using. Then enjoy!

More Pictures of the Finished Table Top

Here's how to stain a table top. Get that professional, store-bought wood stain look with this DIY wood stain tutorial and how-to video. Easy DIY Dark Wood Stain Finish Steps.
I love the finish on this table! It matches the chairs we already had perfectly.
Here's how to stain a table top. Get that professional, store-bought wood stain look with this DIY wood stain tutorial and how-to video. Easy DIY Dark Wood Stain Finish Steps.
I love how this finish turned out on that DIY Plywood Table Top I made for less than $60. πŸ™‚
Here's how to stain a table top. Get that professional, store-bought wood stain look with this DIY wood stain tutorial and how-to video. Easy DIY Dark Wood Stain Finish Steps.
What do you guys think? Are you ready to stain a table top now?

Check out all 4 DIY Tutorials from this Wooden Kitchen Table Build!

Easy to Do DIY Steps and Video - How to Stain a Table Top with a dark wood stain finish. Uses 3 easy to apply products for this professional looking finish.
Don’t forget to Pin Me!

Looking for more of my DIY Furniture videos? You can see them here, on my YouTube channel. πŸ™‚


Here’s another furniture painting project you might like, a Vintage Distressed Paint Look.

Beginner level woodworking plans and tutorial for a DIY Toy Box using Kreg Jig Pocket Holes - Printable Build Plans available - How-to video to help you get it done :) #AbbottsAtHome #DIY #DIYFurniture #WdworkingProjects #WoodworkingPlans

Or, check out this classic Dark Blue with Dark Wax Cabinet Makeover.

DIY Napoleonic Blue Bathroom Vanity Makeover with dark wax and pretty chrome knobs. #AbbottsAtHome #BathroomIdeas #BathroomDesign #BathroomCabinets #AnnieSloan


Feeling inspired? Now that you’ve seen this How to Stain a Table Top tutorial, you can do it too. Let me know if you have questions. Don’t forget to sign up for the Abbotts At Home email newsletter to get DIY, Remodeling, and Crafty ideas in your inbox.

3 thoughts on “How To Stain A Table Top – Get a Professional Finish”

  1. This turned out gorgeous! I really need to do my kitchen table so this has encouraged me to tackle it this spring, thanks! I’ve never used Danish oil, did it get darker with each coat or does it just dry dark?

    • Danish Oil tends to stay the same color no matter how many coats you apply. It soaks into the wood on the first coat and gives it whatever color you bought. It’s the glaze that darkened and deepened the color after that. You can totally do this!

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