How to Refinish a Veneer Table

Veneer tables have a thin layer of real wood bonded to a layer of less expensive wood. You may have found that your veneer kitchen table has faded, and you don't want to buy a new one. It is possible to refinish veneer, but you have to be careful to not damage the veneer layer. Refinish a veneer tabletop by following these steps. 

Prepare to Refinish the Table

To refinish the veneer table, you will need:

  • chemical-resistant work gloves
  • safety glasses
  • drop cloths or plastic
  • rags
  • tack cloth screwdriver 
  • 220-grit sandpaper and 320-grit sanding sponge
  • 000# steel wool pad
  • carpenter's glue 
  • natural-bristle paintbrush
  • foam brush
  • finish stripper
  • wood putty
  • veneer patch
  • wood stain 
  • rub-on polyurethane

Spread a drop cloth or a plastic sheet over the floor in the work area, and open a window to ventilate. If possible, use the screwdriver to detach the legs screws, or untwist the bolts by hand, then lay parts aside. Lay the table on a flat surface or on newspapers.

Check the surface for dents and scratches. Spread wood putty on small dings and holes with the knife, keeping it smooth, and let it dry. For missing veneer or large cracks, glue on a veneer patch, and clamp it until it dries.

Repair and Remove the Finish

Remove the finish with a rag and finish remover suited for the thickness. Apply the finish remover in the same direction on all parts of the table. 

Remove finishes on thin veneers with denatured alcohol and a #000 steel wool pad. After the remover has set for the suggested time, use the putty knife to scrape it. Apply a second layer with the brush. Rinse the residue with the wool pad dipped in lacquer thinner.

Sand and Stain the Table

Sand the tabletop with 220-grit sandpaper moving in the direction of the wood grain, and use the tack cloth to wipe dust. Avoid using an orbital sander, since it may damage the surface.

Use the medium-grit sandpaper to sand the legs. To avoid sanding the finish, purchase an all-in-one stain and sealer, then sand lightly to dull the shine.

Dip the foam brush in the stain and apply it to all parts of the table, following the pattern of the grain. Clean extra stain with a rag. Let the stain dry for 24 hours, and add another coat if needed. Never saturate the table, since too much liquid may dissolve the glue.

Apply a thin coat of polyurethane with the brush to protect the finish. After the coating dries, which commonly takes 24 hours, sand it lightly using the 320-grit sandpaper. Apply another coat, and let it dry for 48 hours.

You can purchase the equipment needed at a local furniture store, such as Kettle River.