If you’ve looked around my blog you will see that I love gel stain projects! In fact, second to chalk paints my next favorite products are gel stains. It’s amazing what a simple coat of gel stain can do to freshen up an old piece of furniture! Well, today I am going to share another gel stain project. My daughter and I decided to give our farm house style dining table a makeover using gel stain and chalk mineral paint.
For basic info and step-by-step on gel staining furniture check out this post
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Why This Table Needed A Makeover
Updating this dining table has been on my to do list for some time, however you know how it goes. You get busy and other projects take precedence. But, with recent changes to our schedules with the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve all had plenty of extra time at home. My daughter pretty much finished her senior year academic work about 1 and 1/2 months earlier than planned due to Covid-19. And I was temporarily at home more from work due to Covid closures. To keep busy we started on some projects around the house. And this dining table makeover was at that top of the list!
We purchased this farm house style dining table about 10 years ago from Ashley Furniture. It has a built in leaf. We purchased the table with one farm house style bench and four chairs. Over the years, two of the chairs broke so we were down to two chairs and one bench. Everybody prefers the bench seat so my daughter and I looked online at Ashley Furniture online. They actually sale this bench through Amazon here. The color of the newer bench was just a little different but it was inexpensive so I went ahead and made that purchase. We weren’t worried about any differences in coloring between the two benches since our plan was to paint the bench base and gel stain the seat.
Supplies Mentioned In This Post
Dixie Belle White Lightening
Dixie Belle Chalk Mineral Paint in Fluff
Dixie Belle Boss In White
Dixie Belle Clear Coat in Satin
Dixie Belle Gator Hide Top Coat
Dixie Belle Voo Doo Stain in Tobacco Road
Dixie Belle No Pain Gel Stain in Espresso
Paintbrushes – I used Annie Sloan Oval Chalk Paint Brush and Dixie Belle Angled Synthetic Mini
3M Buffing Pads and Between Coats Finishing Pads or You can Use Quadruple Zero Steel Wool
Farm House Table Makeover – Getting Started
To start on this farm house table makeover we removed the table top from the base. The table top and benches were taken downstairs to the garage/den area. Sanding produces dust and gel staining needs some ventilation so I prefer to do this out in the garage. Once we got the tabletop onto our workspace we began to sand by hand, doing the same to the bench seats.
Sanding- Why I Chose To Sand
The table top and the bench seats have a thin veneer over them so I didn’t want to chance it with an electric sander. But sanding by hand is more controllable and gives you a good workout too! I started with 120 grit to get a few areas that had scratches and paint marks and then finished with a 220 all over to smooth it out. If you want more info on sanding for a better paint adhesion and a smoother paint finish check out this post. One of the features I love about using gel stain is that it lays over a finished surface nicely. Unlike a water based stain which has to settle into the wood grain a gel based stain is much thicker and will work great on both raw wood and finished or previously-stained surfaces.
To prep the chairs for paint we sanded them down gently with a fine 220 grit sanding pad, just to give a little grit for the paint to stick to. Most of the time, I prefer to sand before I paint. Even if it’s just a little sanding by hand. It is true that chalk and mineral style paints don’t require sanding. They really adhere well without sanding, but I think a little sanding helps to give a smoother finish, but you can decide for your piece of furniture.
Reupholstering The Chair Cushions
We then removed the seat pads so that they could be re-covered with new upholstery. I have a post on how to reupholster a chair seat pad. These seats didn’t need new cushions, which was great. So they only needed new material stretched over the original seat cushions. So super easy to do and it’s amazing how new upholstery on a dining chair freshens up the room! We found the cutest coffee print material on Joanne fabrics online. A fun print with just the right colors and a super cute coffee and latte print!
Why You Should Prep With Cleaning Before Paint
After all the pieces were sanded, I cleaned them with Dixie Belle White Lightening. White Lightening does an amazing job at removing all the grime and yuck that you don’t want under your paint finish. It’s easy to use as you just mix the specified amount of White Lightening crystals in warm water and then give your items a good wipe down. After cleaning do a good wipe down with clear water to remove the White Lightening residue. Furniture cleaning is not the most fun part of the painting process, but it is so important!
Prime Before Painting
To makeover the farm house table we opted to paint the table base and legs, chairs, and bench bases with chalk mineral paint. For the paint, I chose Dixie Belle in Fluff. I love Fluff because it is a good white, not too bright but not an antique white. On furniture it looks like a true white and gives great coverage. Before the paint we did a primer base of Dixie Belle Boss in White. Primer is often needed on dark woods if you are painting them white and in any case where you worry the stain from the previous finish will seep through and ruin your nice white paint job! If you are looking for some basic help with chalk painting check out this post.
Paint The Table and Chairs With Chalk Mineral Paint
After two coats of Boss, we did two coats of Fluff on most areas. There were a few spots that I touched up with a third coat. Dixie Belle paint gives great coverage in my opinion and goes on smooth. I always mist my brush and my furniture to be painted with water using my misting bottle. One big tip for new chalk painters is not to be afraid to add water. It’s better to do more coats that are thinner than to do thick coats that go on too clumpy, which causes brush marks.
Choosing A Brush And How To Reduce Brush Marks
Another tip for chalk painting is to use a good brush. I tend to choose Annie Sloan original oval medium brushes, Dixie Belle synthetic brushes or my Cling-On S50. These are my go to brushes. I have lots of Purdy and Valspar brushes that I like as well and also a Wooster brush or two, but I find that brushes that are designed for chalk style paint work better to provide a smoother finish.
Now I’ll give you a few of my favorite tips for getting less brush marks in your finish. Try to use light strokes, typically holding the brush at a 45 degree angle parallel with the surface. Also use a misting bottle to mist the brush and/or the surface as you paint. This will likely make the brush glide better over the surface. If your chalk paint has been sitting around too long it can get to thick. In this case I like to pour the desired amount of paint into a bowl or jar and mix just a little water to thin before painting. You don’t want your paint drippy but you also don’t want it too thick so add just a little water at a time.
Topcoat For Chalk Mineral Paint
After the final coat of paint was dry on all these bases we proceeded with our top coat. I chose Dixie Belle Clear Coat in the Satin finish. We ended up doing two coats, letting them dry thoroughly in between but they do dry quickly. Dixie Belle Clear Coat goes on easily, but remember that it goes on a cloudy white but dries clear. Many favor applying the topcoat with the Dixie Belle Blue Sponge. I also find that the Dixie Belle Premium Chip Brush is great for applying clear coat! I now have three of these chip brushes and have and washed them so many times. They hold up beautifully. I’ll admit that at first I thought that I was crazy for spending about $10 on a chip brush but I absolutely would do it again! It’s a very versatile brush!
Gel Staining The Tabletop and Benches
Okay, so on to the next step in this farm house table makeover. Now that the table and bench bases and the chairs are painted and topcoat applied, we were ready to move on to the gel stain. We opted to gel stain the table and bench tops. To finish up the chairs we just re-attached the reupholstered chair seats. It still amazes me that simple paint and new upholstery gave those old brown chairs a fresh new vibe! So, if you are thinking of updating your old dining chairs go ahead! Don’t be afraid to take the leap!
For the gel stained tabletop I knew I wanted a dark stain color, so I went with Dixie Belle No Pain Gel Stain in Espresso. Oh my, let me just say that when you open this can of gel stain you will fall in love with that deep rich color. Compared to the No Pain Gel Stain in Walnut it does go on a deeper richer brown, very much like General Finished Java Gel, another gel stain that I reach for often! They are very similar in color. The Java Gel stain is just a bit thicker than the No Pain Gel Stain. But they both go on beautifully.
Tips For Using Gel Stain
I have a whole post about how to use gel stain if you’d like to check that out for some helpful tips. My favorite way to apply gel stain is to brush it on with a foam applicator brush and then wipe away in nice even long stokes following the wood grain with a gel stain applicator pad. You will want to keep a “wet edge” as you apply the stain in long strokes across your surface, wiping it into the grain. This is a messy process and it doesn’t wash off skin like paint does, so make sure to use gloves! Gel stain also needs to be applied in an area with some ventilation. A big tip is to avoid going back over spots once it starts to dry as this will cause smudges.
You can apply more than one coat of gel stain. Follow the product labeling to see what your particular brand recommends. I usually find two coats of gel stain to give a great finish, but you can individualize it to your tastes. It is important to let you gel stain sit for 72 hours before you topcoat. You don’t absolutely have to apply a topcoat to gel stain, but given this is a table and benches that will see very heavy use, I opted to topcoat. I then did 2 coats of Gator Hide and then 1 coat of Clear Coat in Satin.
How To Topcoat Gel Stain
If you read much on Gator Hide you may see that many complain about getting a hazy or streaky finish with it. I find that when it is applied with a blue sponge or a foam roller that it works best. Anytime you apply Gator Hide or any topcoat over a dark paint or gel stain finish you will see some streaking most likely even with experienced applications. To reduce this some recommend buffing between coats of Gator Hide with a quadruple zero steel wool. I have tried this and found it to be helpful, but I also like to use the Between Coats Buffing pads by 3M.
Something else I tried was to mix in just a little of the Dixie Belle Voo Doo Stain in Tobacco Road, which is water-based with my topcoat and this helped to reduce streaking somewhat. So you may give that a try. The tobacco road is just a little different color than the Espresso so it may cause a little color variation but I didn’t find it noticeable. I have a helpful tip sheet for choosing topcoats that you can check out if you are interested!
Summary- Farm House Table Makeover Success!
This farmhouse table makeover turned out wonderful and was just what our kitchen needed! If you have a table and chairs you are thinking needs an update, I’d encourage you to go ahead and take the plunge!
And just a reminder that if you are new to chalk style painting you can check out this post here where I go over all about Chalk Paint Makeovers Made Simple! Hopefully it can help you out with some of the basics!
I’d love to see pictures of your work or hear how your table makeover goes in the comments below. Or you can connect with me on social. I’m on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. I’d appreciate if you’d follow me on social!
And don’t worry. You see this super ugly harvest gold countertop in the background gets a makeover too! I have a post on how I painted these countertops using the Giani Countertop Paint Kit if you’d like to check that out!