Another installment of Ye Olde Home Improvement Projects! I've had a simple unfinished wooden table from IKEA for a few years now in my kitchen. It's really annoying to do food prep on there because everything seeps into the wood, and it looks, well, unfinished. With the help of the internet, friends, and the local hardware store, I'd say the table is in good shape now!
Here's a quick peek at the surface of the "before" table.
First I sanded the entire visible surface of the table (including legs!), to remove gunk and to get it ready for staining. I went through a number of sandpaper pieces. I applied a neutral darker woodsy stain along the grain with a paintbrush and let it dry overnight. I didn't realize that stains don't protect the wood; they are merely cosmetic. D'oh. What the heck could I put on top of this?
I got a foam brush at the hardware store to put on the coats. You have to wait 48 hours(!!) between coats, so yeah, varnishing wouldn't make a very good action movie subplot. (Maybe in an arthouse indie film where watching paint dry is a metaphor for modern society.) Also make sure that it's a well-ventilated area.
I sanded the stained table and applied the first coat over the entire stained area. For the second coat, I sanded and reapplied only on the surface of the table. Now 48 hours later, here is the result:
I got a few scratches on it when I accidentally sanded against the grain, but overall, it looks like a smooth finish and is repelling water and all that good stuff. Now it looks like real furniture and not poor student temporary digs!