How to Stain a Coffee Table


A coffee table is a useful piece of furniture in a living or family room. As the name suggests, it is ideal for resting your beverages on while you sit on your sofa and watch television or gather with family and friends. If you have an unfinished coffee table or you are looking to breathe new life into an old wood piece, you might consider staining. The process of staining is much like painting, but it allows the beauty of the natural wood to shine through.

Things You'll Need

  • Woodfill Sandpaper Washcloth Stain Polyurethane Sponge brush
  • Prepare the surface of your coffee table as needed. If you want to cover imperfections such as nail holes, fill the holes with wood fill and allow it to dry before sanding. If your coffee table has a discoloration, sandpaper might help make it less noticeable. Otherwise, you will need to use a darker color of stain.

  • Use fine-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface of your coffee table. If you are staining the entire coffee table, do not just sand the top—sand the legs and sides and any area you plan to stain. This will help the stain to properly adhere to your piece of furniture. It will also even out any imperfections that might shine through the stain once it is applied.

  • Wipe down your table with a warm, damp cloth to remove any wood shavings. Dip your brush in your stain and apply to your coffee table. Always paint your table with the grain, going in the same direction every time. Apply your stain evenly over the surface, quickly mopping up any drips. Allow your stain to dry for at least 24 hours.

  • Apply a second coat of stain to intensify the color and even out the surface. If you notice any unevenness after the first coat dries, you might need to re-sand your surface before applying a second coat. Allow your table to dry again for a full day.

  • Apply a polyurethane coat to the surface of your table. This will give your table a glossy look and help seal the stain color. It will also help protect it from everyday wear and tear, especially from liquids. Allow this coat to dry for 12 to 48 hours before using your table. Add a second coat as needed.

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  • Photo Credit wood image by Marvin Gerste from
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