Learn how to build and finish a whitewashed reclaimed wood dining table to 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, as a result, will do my best to provide more details in the coming weeks. To start with today, I’m sharing the finishing technique I used for our 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.
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.
Building 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.
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.
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 (150 grit) to smoothen everything out ahead of time.
So, how do you whitewash rustic wood? Here goes…
Distressed Whitewashed Wood Finishing Technique
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Supplies & Tools
SamaN Wood Stain in Urban Grey
Plastic Cup or Bowl (for mixing stain)
Benjamin Moore White Dove (OC-17) Eggshell Finish Latex Paint (ben)
Brown Builder’s Paper or paper plate (optional)
Palm Sander or Detail Sander (with 150 grit paper)
Sanding Sponge (180 grit)
Annie Sloan Clear Soft Wax
Step One- 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.
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 Two- 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).
Step Three- 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.
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.
Step Four- 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.
Step Five- Enjoy your 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.
Unclear about any of the building or finishing steps for this whitewashed reclaimed wood dining table? Leave me a comment and I’ll provide the details you’re looking for.
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Want to know more about the beaded chandelier we selected to hang over our farmhouse style table? Get the details HERE.
Thanks for stopping by!