From Scratches to Finishes:  Toddler Table Refinish

Mommy Crusader Being a Mommy, Mommy Crafts 2 Comments

Last year, I went to a woman’s group and learned about chalk paint. Now, I might have been the only one who didn’t know about chalk paint, but I have fallen in love. The paint is the fastest way to refinish  a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g! I’ve spent some time working on refinishing projects (thanks in part to some inspiration from Redo It Yourself Inspirations) and have three pieces I would like to share. The first of these is From Scratches to Finishes: Toddler Table.


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My mother gave me a wonderful, wood toddler table, with four chairs for Christmas not too long ago. My kids love this table, as do I. We do a lot of our playing, preschool, and even eating on this table. It’s just the right size for my four younger children. Unfortunately, all this love has started to wear on the table. The final straw was when one of my sons decided to etch tally marks into the top of the table to keep score on the game he was playing.

Sooooooo. I did what any mother who believes in logical consequences would do. I had him help me refinish the table. I love chalk paint for the very reason that it is so approachable to refinish an object. I didn’t have to worry about stripping or sanding the table. I could just paint the table the color I wanted and then finish the table with an antiquing process and a polystyrene coating. So simple and fun. My son actually enjoyed his consequence – however, I warned him not to make tally marks on tables ever again. We also refinished the chairs to match the look of the table and added a few embellishments to the tabletop. When we finished we had a great, brand new, toddler table for our preschool lessons and gatherings.

If you have a piece of not-so-gently used furniture that needs to be refinished, and you don’t want the project to take more than a weekend (there has to be drying time), here’s what to do:

Toddler Table Refinish How-to Guide

First, clean all the surfaces that are going to be painted. Make sure any goop that may or may not (I’m not judging or saying) be there is removed. Dry off the surfaces with a soft cloth.

The table has been cleaned and painted with two coats of chalk paint. Now, it’s time to add embellishments.

Next, stir the chalk paint you are using. Make sure to stir it really well. There are commercially made chalk paints available at craft stores or on Amazon. Or, you can mix your own. I mixed my own because I wanted to create different colors than the paint available at the craft stores. The recipe for mix it yourself chalk paint is available here.

Now, start applying the paint. I used three different colors of paint for this project, so I tried to streamline the painting process as much as possible. I’d paint the bottom of the pieces first, let them dry, then repaint the bottom and continue to the top surfaces. Then I’d only have to wait for the tops to dry before applying their second coat.

I recommend applying two coats of paint to each surface to increase durability. Also, I used a bristle brush, not a foam brush, because it applied the paint better.

Allow the paint to completely dry, anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the environment.

Now, it’s time to finish the pieces. This process can be as simple as applying three coats of a polycrylic coating. Or, it can be more complicated, with the application of antiquing waxes, and then the coating. It depends on the look you want for your piece. I wanted a more antiqued look – actually, I wanted a toned down version of the colors to match the embellishments I added.

If you like the antiqued look I created, here’s how to do it.

First, you’ll want to apply a light colored wax, either from a craft store, or a light colored finishing wax. (I used Minwax regular finishing paste.) Apply the wax with a soft cloth (don’t use a paper towel, bad things can happen.) Save this cloth to wipe excess dark wax off, after it’s been applied.

Next, you’ll need to apply a light coat of a dark wax, again available from Amazon, craft or hardware stores, depending on the brand you want. I used Folk Art Home Decor Antiquing Wax. Craft wax for the dark wax. Using a different cloth, apply the wax on the surfaces you wish to look antiqued. Now, using the light wax cloth you saved (because you’re thrifty and smart), wipe the dark wax until you get the antiqued look you want.

Allow the wax to rest on the piece for at least 3 hours before moving to the next step.

At this point, I decided to add paper handprints of my children’s hands to decorate the top of the table to give it a more whimsical look.

If you’d like to add any paper embellishments, this is the part in the process to do it. After cutting out the embellishments, glue them to the furniture using a generous amount of Mod Podge. Once the embellishments are glued down, apply another 2 generous coatings of Mod Podge to their tops. Allow the Mod Podge to dry – about 2 hours.

This is a close-up of the table top with my children’s handprints deco podged and waiting for final touches.

Now, for the final, but very important step – applying the polycrylic e coating. This coating will protect the paint, and embellishments, from chipping. I recommend coating the surfaces with the polycrylic at least three times, especially for a children’s table. Any less than that, and the paint/embellishments are more likely to chip quickly.

Apply the coating evenly with a bristle brush. Allow the each layer to dry at least 30 minutes before adding the next layer. It’s best to apply the coating outside, or at least in a well ventilated area.

Once the final coating is applied, allow the piece to rest for 12 hours before letting it be used.

This project was easy and fun to do. Because I mixed my own chalk paint, the cost was less than $30. Now I have a fantastic, and whimsical toddler table for my children to use. If you want to do this project, but don’t have a table set, it’s available through, here, and on sale for $112.

Comments 2

  1. Carrie Groneman

    What a terrific idea! I LOVE Your new look on the blog and as always all the great things you post here Deborah. Thank you for inspiring parents and teaching us all how to be a it better. Carrie, A Mother’s Shadow

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