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Whitewashed Reclaimed Wood Dining Table

Learn how to build and finish a whitewashed reclaimed wood dining table. Add a bit of farmhouse style to your kitchen.

Hello everyone! Thank you so much for your kind response to our fall home tour. I received a bunch of questions about our kitchen renovation and will do my best to provide more details in the coming weeks. To start, I’m sharing the finishing technique I used for our whitewashed reclaimed wood dining table.

DIY Whitewashed Reclaimed Wood Dining Table

As you may remember, last fall we transformed our existing kitchen table from dated and boring to modern farmhouse chic using weathered wood, white paint and a lot of elbow grease. These kinds of projects usually end up taking much more time than first anticipated (real marriage testers), but when all is said and done, the cost savings and one-of-a-kind aspect make them well worth it.

When we set out to update our kitchen last summer, the goal was to create a classic white space with a touch of vintage bistro. I envisioned a rustic white farmhouse table as the main furniture piece in our dining area, but finding one with the right specs and price seemed next to impossible. So, we did what we always seem to do and worked with what we already had on hand.

BEFORE- How to Build a Salvaged Wood Farmhouse Table Using an Existing Table, Plus Distressed Whitewashed Finishing Steps

If you’re wanting to modify your current dining room table similarly to what we did, it’s important to make sure it has a solid base, as well as a removable top. The style of the legs should also be on the antique or rustic side too. These kinds of wood dining tables can often be found on sites like Kijiji and Craigslist, in addition to thrift shops and garage sales. Keep your eyes open and do your research.

How to Build a Reclaimed Wood Tabletop

Once you have a suitable kitchen table on hand, follow these steps to add a reclaimed wood table top first.

Then, come back here to learn the technique I used to achieve our weathered, whitewashed dining table finish.

How to Add a Reclaimed Wood Table Top to an Existing Dining Table

White Wash Table Sample Boards

As with most wood finishing projects, this one was a case of trial and error. I played around with several sample boards before I achieved the final look I was going for. Because wood varieties take stain and paint differently, I suggest doing some sample boards of your own.

Be sure to allow sufficient drying time before making a final decision. There can be a huge variation between how paint looks wet vs. dry.

Distressed White Wash Wood Finish for Dining Table

Prepping Your Table for White Wash Technique

Before finishing the salvaged wood table top, make sure you’ve sanded down any rough spots or sharp edges. Keep the bumps and undulations intact, as they’re the character you’re looking for. Once the whitewash paint finish is applied, it will help smoothen the surface slightly, but it’s important to tackle areas of potential splinters ahead of time. I used our detail sander, as well as a sanding sponge to smoothen everything out ahead of time.

So, how do you whitewash a dining table? Here goes…

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Distressed Whitewashed Wood Finishing Technique

Supplies and Tools

Step 1- Apply an even coat of dark stain to the table top.

To maintain the rustic character (cracks and crevasses) of the salvaged wood, apply a base coat of dark grey-brown stain first. SamaN is a water-based concentrated stain that can be diluted to achieve the depth of colour and transparency you’re looking for.

I mixed 2 teaspoons of stain to 1/3 cup of water. Play around with the ratio to achieve a fairly dark semi-transparent grey-brown colour once it’s dry.

Finishing Technique for Whitewashed Reclaimed Wood Dining Table - SamaN Water-based Stain

Using the stain mixture and a clean paint brush, apply an even coat over the entire table surface including the ends and underside of the overhang being careful not to get any on the white-painted base. Allow to dry overnight.

Step 2- Apply an even coat of white paint over the stain.

Working with the same latex white paint you used for the table base, apply an even coat over the entire stained table top including the underside of the overhang. To prevent the paint from dripping into the cracks, tap the excess paint off on brown builder’s paper, a paper plate or a lint-free rag before applying. If any paint drips into the cracks, don’t worry. Simply use a dry brush to pull as much out as possible.

Allow to dry thoroughly (best is overnight).

How to White Wash Reclaimed Wood - DIY Farmhouse Table .

Step 3- Sand the tabletop.

Using a palm or detail sander, remove the white paint from the high points of the reclaimed wood. Pass the sander quickly over the table top to prevent too much from coming off. Start out with a “less is more” approach. I found it worked best to stand back and take a look at the whole table top at regular intervals to see if I was happy with the look or wanted to remove more. It’s really about personal preference.

For finer detailing, switch over to the sanding sponge. I especially found this helpful for the ends and spaces between the boards.

If you end up removing too much paint, simply apply another thin layer, allow time to dry, and sand again.

Rustic Dining Table Finishing Steps .

Note: If you haven’t distressed the table base at this point yet, use the sanding sponge to remove paint from some of the edges or areas where there would typically be wear in an older piece. Again, this is about personal preference. It’s your distressed white dining table, so get the look you’re wanting.

Reclaimed Wood Farmhouse Table DIY with White Distressed Finish

Step 4- Seal the whole table with wax.

Using the wax brush and clear wax, apply an even thin layer over the entire table, including the top and base. Again, use brown builder’s paper, a paper plate or a lint-free rag to remove the excess wax from the brush before applying. Be sure to work into the cracks and gaps between the boards.

Allow your whitewashed table to thoroughly dry and buff with a lint-free cloth. Apply a second coat for extra protection if desired. It will take some time to fully cure.

White Wash Dining Table with Fall Decor

Step 5- Enjoy your white washed dining table.

I love that our table is no-fuss and just gets better over time. Scratches and dents are welcome. I may eventually have to add another wax layer or slight touch up with a bit of paint in years to come if stains start to build up. Only time will tell.

For now we’re enjoying our “new” whitewashed farmhouse table currently set in moody blue and white decor. Be sure to check out my fall kitchen tour if you missed it to get the full tablescape details.

White Wash Dining Table Decorated in Blue and White with Pumpkins and Succulents for Fall

I enjoy creating table settings, so it’ll definitely be put to use!

Unclear about any of the building or finishing steps for this whitewashed reclaimed wood dining table makeover? Leave me a comment and I’ll provide the details you’re looking for.

Be sure to pin this table makeover project for later!

DIY Whitewashed Reclaimed Wood Dining Table

Want to know more about the beaded chandelier we selected to hang over our farmhouse style table? Be sure to check out the light fixture details.

Wood Beaded Chandelier Over Whitewashed Table

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Thanks for stopping by!

Shauna at Satori Design for Living Blog - Home Decor, DIY, Vintage Finds, Recipes


  1. Great tutorial Shauna. I think your table is perfect, and I love the welcome of wear over time!

    1. Thank you, Sheila! I like the look and practicality of it so much better than what we had before. No need for table cloths anymore, and I definitely don’t worry about scratches. Have a great Thanksgiving Weekend :)

  2. Hi. I am building a farm table very similar to this but it will be outside under a covered roof. Would i use the same paint and wax technique or do i need to follow a different paint plan?

    1. Hi Jeanette, The technique I shared is only for indoor furniture only. Do some research, but I’d likely use products for outdoor even though it’s going to be under a covered roof. The wood will experience greater variations in humidity being outside, so you’ll want to protect it with stain/paint/protector that’s designed for that.

  3. Beautiful table! I recently bought one similar to this… Can you tell me how to keep it clean? I am scared to use lysol or pledge!

    1. Hi Tala, I wipe it with a damp cloth (a bit of mild dish soap) and dry it with a tea towel. We tend to use placemats, so it doesn’t get dirty very often.

  4. Hi! Love the table, just wondering what type of wax you use? Does it hold up to hot mugs etc.? Is that the best sealant for a dining table? Thanks!

    1. Hi Lexi, I used Annie Sloan Clear Soft Wax (2 applications). Our table looks the same as the day we built it, but we do use placemats for hot or damp items. If you’re looking for a harder wearing finish, you may want to consider lacquer.

  5. I had a question about the prepping of the table. Your original picture looks very similar to the finish of mine, how do you clean it before applying the stains etc.? Do you sand down the original finish? I see you replaced the top with reclaimed wood, I would be looking to apply the same idea to the original table surface. Any thoughts would be great!

    1. Hi Rebecca, For the table legs and apron, I made sure the base was clean (used a bit of TSP and water) and lightly sanded it. Then, I primed and painted it using Benjamin Moore’s Fresh Start and White Dove (OC-17) in an eggshell finish. Lightly sand using high grit sand paper in between coats. I applied a wax finish from Annie Sloan using rags. The finish has held up nicely over 4 years later.

  6. Hi! Gorgeous table!!
    What is the color name of the gray brown stain you used?
    Thanks so much!!

  7. This table is so cute! I love it so much. I have been looking for something like this to freshen up our kitchen! We are doing some kitchen cabinet refinishing next week and after that I would love to try and make these. Thanks for sharing!

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