The Best Paint for Kitchen Table DIY Projects

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Last updated: April 9, 2023

If your old table already looks old and worn out, don’t throw it out just yet. With the best paint for a kitchen table, a few coats and brush strokes can quickly transform it into a beautiful piece that looks brand new all over again. And if you recently bought a beaten-up table at a yard sale, thrift store, or flea market, some top coat of fresh paint can turn a worn table top into a beautiful table.

Why do people choose old and recycled wood furniture? It is usually solid wood so it is a hard finish and a durable finish (they wouldn’t be in a thrift store if it wasn’t the case). With a little extra work and a little bit of courage, an entire project can change old kitchen table hardware into a beautiful finished product with a smooth surface. It’s much more than a paint job or a final coat of paint.

This is an easier DIY project (do it yourself) because it is generally easier. A few coats of paint on an old piece of furniture is the first step in the upcycling movement. This is also a good idea because you can save money. I do not want to downplay the upcycling movement. DIY project trends have homeowners bringing new life to old furniture pieces. Many are even experimenting with styles overall house remodeling, using white paint to create a distressed look with kitchen furniture, cabinets, and tables.

A 2019 Statista study in Denmark confirmed that 18% of survey respondents recycled materials and products like furniture (tables, beds) including door handles. None of this is bad actually. Some door pulls or handles are so well designed, by the hands of a craftsman, that they were designed to outlast all of us and can add a nice rustic touch to revitalized kitchen hardware.

Nowadays, many people want to paint their dining tables and coffee table in different colors or light colors and will even experiment with wood stains if they choose not to paint furniture.

While it may seem daunting to choose the right paint for your tabletop, there are some tips and pointers you should remember. You can use this article as your guide to making the right choice, so you enjoy your new table for a long time.

The best results also come with the first thing on the agenda—the prep work and planning before rushing out to Home Depot. Heck, the type of paint brush or glossy finish matters and will depend on your personal preferences. Regular paint just doesn’t work here.

Table of Contents

Preparing to Paint Kitchen Tables

Proper planning is an essential aspect of painting. You don’t want to be overwhelmed painting a kitchen table; especially, if this is the first time you’ve taken on a home project. To minimize risk, you make want to use a small section or small piece of unused wood to see how the paint settles. You can also try this in discreet locations like the legs of the table or the end tables but don’t apply for full coverage or you’ll be committed. It is good to have a soft cloth handy for quick, messy cleanups.

You can even get free paint color swatches from companies like Glidden, who will happily mail them to you, to help you see how the paint finish looks. Sign-up here for Glidden’s free paint color swatches.

You can find most paints at Home Depot, Lowe’s, or your local hardware store if they specialize in painting supplies.

Make sure that you give the table a good sanding, and see that you remove all imperfections on the wood surface beforehand. You can watch some Youtube videos to get some ideas on how to go about the sanding process. 

After sanding the table, it is time to clear away all the dust. I recommend using a tack cloth for this step as this is considered the best material for this job.

You also have to remember that specific types of paint require a primer first to blend correctly. 

Now that your table is ready for painting, here are some of the best paints that you can use to give your table a total makeover. 

Latex Paint

Latex paints are popular for kitchen tables, thanks to their low price and accessibility. 

This type of paint is the default choice among most enthusiasts of home improvement projects. Aside from this, you can even choose from various colors available. When it comes to latex paints, your imagination is the limit. 

But the results of painting with latex are often linked with the preparation stage. You must pay close attention when you clean, sand, and prime the table. One more important consideration is that this paint can dry fast, but the curing time may belong. Most of the time, the paint still has that flimsy and soft appearance afterward. 

Different Finishes of Latex Paints for Customization

Latex paints are highly customizable, and it allows you to have some fun in choosing the color you like the most, or you can even mix several colors if you want. However, the fun doesn’t just stop there. Since multiple finishes are available, you can customize your table to a more significant degree.


A flat finish is often the most common and popular choice. However, just because it is common doesn’t automatically mean that it is good. A flat finish is known for its lack of durability. 

Although it has a nice matte appearance, a flat finish is more susceptible to damages and scratches. All in all, unless you have no plans to use your table too often, a flat finish is not a recommended option for kitchen tables. 


The high-gloss finish looks good and is durable. However, remember that high-gloss needs the most amount of maintenance and preparation. Even the most minor mistake can result in an imperfection visible from a distance because of its sheen. It is used more on doors and kitchen cabinets more frequently.


The satin finish combines the matte appearance of the flat finish and the durability of high gloss. It is also easier to clean the satin finish because it tends to be more washable than other options. 


A semi-gloss finish has a shiny and nice-looking appearance and is often the best option in terms of durability. Scratches are unlikely to be an issue due to the high resin concentration, and this is the best choice to consider if you plan to use your table daily. Semi-gloss paint has a slight gloss output but has lower reflective qualities, is easier to clean and is adaptable to greater moisture.

Pros and Cons of Latex Paints

Some of the most significant advantages of latex paints include the following:

  • Easy to clean 
  • Plenty of options for customization 
  • Widely available

On the other hand, some of its top disadvantages are the following:

  • Before-use preparations 
  • Low to medium durability

What is the Best Latex Paint on the Market

If you are looking for the best late paint on the market, Krylon COLORmaxx is an option worthy of considering. This paint doesn’t only come at a great price as this is also available in the different finishes mentioned above. Krylon has proven that they have high-quality painting products backed by positive reviews from actual users. 

Acrylic Paint

A water-based paint that has a close resemblance to latex is acrylic paint. While little preparation is required when using this paint, giving the table excellent and good sanding before applying acrylic paints. 

Although there are no finish options here, this type of paint is still highly customizable in terms of colors. The only downside of this paint is the amount that you can get. Most of the time, acrylic paints are only available in small containers, and this means that you might need to make a bulk purchase to paint half of your dining room table. 

Acrylic is also more prone to marks from brushstrokes because it is a quick-drying paint. But the moment it dries up, acrylic becomes more resistant to stains and scratches. You also have the option to use some oil or wax for its topcoat. 

However, its overall durability is good for everyday use. Add in the fact that it is also easy to clean acrylic, and you just got your hands on the following paint to use for your kitchen tables.

Pros and Cons of Acrylic Paints

Some of the critical strengths of acrylic paints are the following:

  • Scratch-resistant and resilient
  • Easy to apply 
  • Wide variety of available colors 

On the other hand, there are weaknesses:

  • Prone to brushstroke mark
  • Sold in smaller containers 

What is the Best Acrylic Paint on the Market?

If you are interested in trying acrylic paints, you might want to check out Handy Art Acrylic Paints. Handy Art offers some of the largest-sized containers you can find in the market to ensure that you get the amount of paint your project needs. You can give your table a whole new look at a fraction of a cost. 

Chalk Paint

Chalk paints have become a popular option among DIY fans for the past few years. Due to its latex base, chalk paints don’t need much preparation and will dry much faster. It would be best to use chalk paint to achieve a soft and matte finish on the top of the table. A well-known and leading brand is the Annie Sloan chalk paint Durable product line.

While its quicker drying time may seem like an advantage, this means that each brushstroke is also more visible. There is a steep learning curve for using this paint if you have little to no experience in painting. But this learning process can also become exciting and fun once you become familiar with it. 

Pros and Cons of Chalk Paints

The significant upside for chalk paints include:

  • You can use it on most types of surfaces
  • Smooth finish
  • Fast drying time

Meanwhile, it also has downsides:

  • Harder to apply 
  • Expensive 
  • Prone to scratches 

What is the Best Chalk Paint in the Market?

It might not be easy to find good chalk paint because most mainstream retailers focus more on other types of paint. But a product you might want to consider is the Retique It Chalk Furniture Paint. Retique’s high quality has an overwhelming number of positive user reviews it received, and it also has various colors to choose the one that suits your project best. 

Milk Paint

Milk paint is another kind of paint made using milk protein. With its extensive history of use for painting furniture pieces, chair seats, kitchen cabinets, and houses as a whole, milk paint is the best way to help you achieve that much-coveted vintage look. 

While this paint is straightforward to use, it sells in powder form in most hardware stores, so you need to use good quality bonding paint when using it. Without a bonding agent, this paint may end up with an unfinished and rough appearance, or it may even incur scratches. 

It is also good to finish the painting job with a layer of oil or wax to retain its original finish. 

Pros and Cons of Milk Paints

Here are the benefits that milk paints have to offer:

  • Easy to apply 
  • Eco-friendly formula 
  • Vintage look

The downsides of milk paints include:

  • A bonding agent is necessary for durability
  • Prone to scratches 

What is the Best Milk Paint in the Market?

If you want to try using milk paint yet are not a fan of its powder format, you can use General Finishes Water Based Milk Paint. Premixed for the user’s convenience, it is a popular choice of milk-based paint available in various colors for every kitchen theme and style. 

Oil Paint

Many people consider oil paint the underdog when it comes to wood painting, and however, it is now starting to make a comeback little by little. Even though it is harder and more expensive to use, its oil content is responsible for the high durability of this paint. 

But one of the most significant weaknesses of this paint is its long drying time which can sometimes take up to 24 hours. Oil paint is generally best used to achieve a resilient finish that will not incur scratches as quickly as the other paints available. 

Pros and Cons of Oil Paints

Oil paints have the following advantages:

  • Usable on most surfaces
  • High durability 

Their disadvantages:

  • High price 
  • Long drying times

What is the Best Oil Paint in the Market?

The long drying time of oil paints is their most significant downside, but the brand Rust-Oleum was able to develop a good solution in the form of a Marine Coating Topside Paint. Even though it seems as if it only works on metal surfaces, this paint is also ideal for wood surfaces.

Its drying time has been cut down to two hours, making it a good alternative you can consider than other similar products. With the raving positive reviews that the product has been getting, this paint deserves a try. 

Key Steps to Paint Kitchen Tables

Your beautiful kitchen table has more use than other pieces of furniture around your home as a writing desk, workbench, or drawing table. 

A quick update with a new coat of paint like Sherwin Williams paint can freshen up your entire table with no need for hard work or spending a lot. 

Follow these steps for painting your table. 

Clean the Table Properly

Use hot water, a scrub brush, and regular dish soap to remove any furniture polish or buildup of dirt on it. For a tabletop with a removable leaf, you can separate all pieces and clean between them. Make sure everything is dry before you proceed to the next steps.

Choose your Paint

Since you will use your table for eating, you might want to use a type of water-based paint that will not be toxic after it dries up. In general, semigloss finish or latex is an excellent option since you can easily wipe it clean using water and soap, and eating on it is also safe once dry. 

Sand and Prime

With heavy grit sandpaper and an electric palm sander, you need to sand the table, including all the parts you want to paint, such as the table legs. You might need to grind the crannies and nooks manually. Remove any leftover sawdust and apply a water-based primer coat. It is essential not to skip this step as this affects the finished product’s durability. 

The Final Step: Paint

After the primer coat has completely dried up, apply an even clear coat of paint all over the table using a small foam roller. Don’t forget the removable table leaves that you detached earlier. 

Use a small brush for painting the areas that the roller cannot reach. Let the first coat of paint completely dry out and apply a second coat. 

Depending on how thick your paint is, a third coat might still be necessary before the final coat. Let the table dry completely for at least overnight before you use it. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you seal a painted kitchen table?

To seal your painted table, apply a single thin coat of clear polyacrylic or polyurethane topcoat to the entire tabletop with a dense paintbrush or foam pad. Polyacrylic is often water-based, but you can also use it over oil-based paints as long as the paint cures completely.

Is it better to stain or paint a kitchen table?

It is usually better to stain kitchen tables because, over time, dark stain wood surfaces can hold up much better than painted surfaces. The same rule applies to any paint you choose to use, whether you use enamel paint or spray paint applied using a paint sprayer. 

How can I paint my dining room table without sanding?

If milk paint mixes with an equal amount of bonding agent, there is no need for you to sand your dining table before painting it. 

Can I paint over varnished wood without sanding?

Yes, you can paint over varnished wood without sanding if you use an oil-based primer. The primer can stick to sealed or varnished wood and be painted over with latex. 

Do you have to sand a table before painting?

There are times when there is no need to sand a wood table before painting. Just make sure that you clean the surface properly before you begin. 

How do you protect a painted tabletop?

Applying one thin coat of clear polyacrylic or polyurethane topcoat can help protect your painted tabletop. 

Is oil-based paint more durable than water-based?

Oil-based paint is typically more durable than water-based because it also dries harder, offering excellent resistance to regular wear and tear.

What is the best paint to use on wood?

High-gloss or semigloss paint sheens are some of the best bets for painting wood, and their smoother and non-porous finish is easier to clean.

Instead of getting absorbed, moisture can bead on the surfaces, ensuring that the paint coat will not fade or weather over time. 

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