DIY Pine Side Table Makeover


Today’s project shows you the steps for a DIY pine side table makeover. This painted piece was refinished to a natural pine finish. 

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If you are new to this blog: Welcome! My name is Anna and I share information on collecting antique/vintage items, refurbishing furniture and making small crafts/projects. The purpose of this blog is to share with you how to use creativity and antiques to make your home beautiful. In addition to information here on the blog, you can also follow me on the following social media accounts InstagramFacebook or Pinterest.

Back Story

I love old pine furniture that has a country European feel.  However, it can be difficult to find for a reasonable price.  To find a large piece of this beautiful furniture, you often need to travel to speciality shops or antique shows.  For example, you can find a good deal of antique Swedish, French, and English pine furniture at the Round Top antiques fair in Texas. You can also occasionally stumble upon a nice piece in an antique store. 

I found this little table in Tennessee at an antique store and at first didn’t think much of it.  It already had several coats of paint and as a result, it took me awhile to realize it was made of pine.  Unlike most modern furniture, old furniture is almost always made of solid wood and is very well built. A quick look at the table and I realized that it was exceptional quality and had good bones.  My guess is that this pine table was made in the 1950s-1960s. 

So, although this little side table can’t compare to the glory of an old English pine stepback cupboard, it had potential and I thought it would be fun project to complete in a day.  It’s always fun to give a piece of furniture a new life and these little tables are endlessly useful and easy to move around the house. So without further delay, let’s jump into this furniture makeover project. 

Easy Pine Side Table Makeover

This project took me a full day to complete.  It was approximately 8 hours from start to finish. However, 6 hours were waiting for drying time between clear coats.  The prep work and sanding took me 2 hours to complete.  Before we begin, the first thing we need to do is gather our supplies.

If you are new to refurbishing or refinishing furniture, this is a perfect project to begin with. Finding a small table to work helps you to understand the refinishing process while not feeling overwhelmed. It helps you to learn the dos and don’ts of working on furniture by working on a small and affordable piece.

Supply List

Most of these supplies can be found at your local big box hardware store.  Where possible I have linked them to online sources. Although I applied this technique to a side table, you can use the same process on a coffee table, end table, or bedside table.  

Supplies for refinishing table

Remove the Paint

Rustic Wood Finish

I prefer pine furniture with a raw wood finish because I like a more rustic look.  This typically means the wood is sealed with natural wax or a clear coat that has a matte finish. In contrast to most modern furniture or traditional formal furniture, European pine furniture does not have a shiny clear coat. The first step is achieving this look involves removing the existing paint.  

Little table before

Although the pine table already had several coats of paint, it was chipping off in various places.  So, I knew this table was a perfect candidate for a makeover because the paint could be sanded off fairly easily.  

Sanding the Table

With that in mind, I put on my mask and gloves and headed out to garage to start sanding off the paint. My goal was to get to the bare wood under the paint.  So, I started off using 120 grit sandpaper to remove the existing paint. After twenty minutes, I wiped the table down to see how much paint had been removed.  Fortunately, the paint was coming off easily.  I continued sanding for another 10 minutes and removed most of the paint.  

I noticed removing paint from the joints of the table legs was difficult. Particularly those areas where the legs connected to the table top. First I tried to sand these areas by hand but the paint was stubbornly adhering to the wood.  To solve this problem, I removed the legs by taking out the existing screws using a screw driver.  If your table has screws holding the legs in place, take your time removing the screws.  It’s easy to strip old screws using a cordless drill.  To prevent that from happening, I used a screw driver and removed all the screws by hand.  This takes a little more time but is well worth the effort.

Remove table legs with a screwdriver

Then I was able to sand each leg and the apron of the table to remove any remaining paint. (For clarity, the apron is the area between the top of the table and where the legs connect.)  Just a quick note, if you don’t want to use a sander to remove paint, you can also use paint stripper.  

Raw wood pine side table

Once the paint is removed, I used 180 grit sandpaper to go over the wood and create a nice smooth finish. 

When the paint is completely removed, the wood has been sanded to a smooth finish and you have wiped dust off the table using your lint-free rag, we are ready to move on to the next step.

Seal the Table

Products for Sealing Wood

There are a number of ways to seal bare wood either with a clear coat or with a wax finish.  There is also a wide array of clear coat products you can use.  I prefer to stick with water soluble products so my “go to” products are Min Wax’s Polycrylic and General Finishes Flat Out Flat.  Often times, when applying Min Wax’s Polycrylic to raw wood, the color of the wood changes.  It can become more yellow, orange or red in tone.  Yuck to orange pine!  I am having flash backs to the 80s and 90s.  

Why I Don’t Use Polyurethane

One word of caution, if you use Polyurethane to seal your furniture, be aware that it can turn yellow over time from the exposure to sunlight.  This is especially problematic if you applied Polyurethane to a piece of furniture painted in a light color such light blue, light green, light grey, white etc.

Water Based Top Coat

I liked the soft natural wood color of the little pine table and didn’t want it to change.  So, I used General Finishes Flat Out Flat to seal the wood and protect the surface.  This is the only clear coat product I know of that won’t alter the color of the raw wood. 


Sealing the wood with a clear natural wax also prevents the yellow, orange or red tones from coming out. If you choose to apply a clear wax, you may want to use a special wax brush since it makes application much easier.  

When I am sealing the wood for table tops, I prefer to use a clear coat finish because waxes are not as durable.  Especially if the table is going to be used for drinking glass, coffee mugs, vases of flowers or anything with moisture.  If you are working on refinishing a dining room table, I highly recommend a clear coat finish and not a wax finish. 

Applying the top coat

Applying the Top Coat

Three coats of General Finishes Flat Out Flat were applied to the small pine table.  Take your time to ensure the brush strokes for the clear coat go with the wood grain.   Each coat takes about 2 hours to dry.  Then in between coats, I quickly sanded the surface again using 220 grit sand paper and wiped the surface clean with a micro-fiber cloth.  I applied the first coat at 1:00, the second coat at 3:00 and the final coat at 5:00. 

DIY side pine table makeover

As you can see this little pine table looks so much better with this makeover!  

Feel free to pin any of the images below to save them to your Pinterest account for future reference. 

DIY side pine table makeover

This cute little table is going to get a lot of use now that it has been refinished.

DIY side pine table makeover


Thanks for stopping by the blog today.  This was a relatively easy project that I was able to complete from start to finish in one day. A small table, such as this one, is a perfect beginner project for refinishing furniture. It’s easy enough to practice all the steps while not getting overwhelmed. Additionally, you don’t need many supplies to undertake this little project. One word of caution, make sure your table is structurally sound and doesn’t need any repairs before you start refinishing the wood.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

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  1. What a gorgeous find, Anna! I love how you brought it back to life too. The pine wood is just gorgeous. Thanks so much for the reminder on finishes too. I’m definitely going to bookmark this post for the times I need to redo a piece of furniture and want to be sure I’m not putting any products that might yellow the furniture given all the sunny days we have in Florida. Your tips are always so helpful! Hugs, CoCo

    1. Thank you CoCo. I am glad you found this post helpful. One of my main goals is to inspire people to refurbish vintage and antique furniture. So I try to share all that I have learned over the years.

  2. That is so pretty and you make the project so doable by describing each step. I’m ready to give it a try!

  3. I enjoyed seeing how you transformed this antique table. I know a lot of people don’t like sanding furniture but I find it therapeutic! I have never tried General Finishes Sealer but think I will give it a try! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us! Pinning now!

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