How to paint that table… Your questions answered.

Painted Farmhouse Table

I decided to take the table that I just completed for a client and turn it into an all questions answered here for you!! I get soooo many questions on how and requests and “please help me create that look in that table oh please!!” emails that I can’t answer you fast enough or detailed enough. If I were thinking, I would copy and paste my emails to you all!! But I never think to do that!! 

So, we have a large farmhouse table made from hickory here that was a little over 9 feet long!! Longest one to date and it didn’t have leaves, so it was a bugger to do the top- a lot of shimmy down this way and shimmy back this way when it came time to buff!! It was a sight to see, and thankfully you don’t have to see!!

Table before Collage

I give the table a good cleaning with TSP first.  It’s been in a kitchen with kids and even if you cannot see hand smeared goodness you don’t want to find it when you are painting!! And if you are painting for someone else, likely they cleaned it with furniture polish before it came to you so you wouldn’t think it was dirty!! {No need to do that- hint hint!!}  So, I give it a good cleaning!!  Once it’s dried all the way, I start with the legs and skirt with the lightest color first.  On this one, I used Le Craie Magnolia.  I gave it a nice generous coat all over the skirt and legs… I typically paint tables upside down so that you can see all the areas and reach the legs easier, on this one I couldn’t,  so I spent a lot of time under the table!!

2nd coat Collage

When that coat is dry, which by the time you make it around the whole table it is, { And  I should tell you for the next few steps of the table, you will not want to start and stop.  For the wet distressing part it is much easier if you just keep working with it as it’s a bit wet. } you will move on to the next color in the layering.  I chose Le Craie’s Franciscan Grey.  I did use it full strength.  Sometimes I just use it as a wash but for this table I really wanted the color to be definite and there!! So, grab your deal of wipes and get ready… brush on and take off- not all just a bit here and there.  In some places I went down to the wood, in others I just let the white show through.  And again, just work your way around.  When you are wet distressing, your wipe will begin to hold a lot of paint for you.  This is great when you take too much off and want to wipe a little back on- but not so great when you are trying to take off and you’re still putting it on!! So swap out those wipes frequently.


I then created a wash with Le Craie Confederate Grey, glazing medium, and an antiquing medium.  As seen in the picture below.  Doing it the same way, but this time I had to be a bit more careful- it’s really thin.  But you do the same technique of brushing it on and taking it off with a wipe.  You can even use a ripped up tee or rag as it’s a bit thin at first.


This step will dry fast.  After that step using a wax brush you will want to put a generous coat of dark wax to age it even more.  I used Maison Blanche’s Antiquing Wax for the legs and skirt of this table.  You can apply it straight on without applying clear first.  It will not bite the paint and make it look dirty.  Allow it to sit and dry for about 20 minutes and then using a buffing pad or old tee you can go back and wipe off areas that are a little too much or even begin to buff and if you need more go ahead and apply more.  It’s really a personal preference at this point to the look you are trying to achieve.


If you get too much of the dark you can go back and take away some with clear.  I see a lot of questions about “Do I have to finish with a clear wax or is dark enough?”  My answer is, you can finish with a clear if it makes you feel better.  I typically if I am using dark or light just use those!! I do give it at least 2 coats and 3 for higher used pieces.  But clear isn’t necessary unless you just prefer it!!


The next step is the top.  Now during this table it was cold and rainy.  Not a good mix for the staining anything.  And because of the size I couldn’t just bring it inside.  I painted with 2 coats of Pecan on top… {this top would have been perfect to sand down and just stain it’s solid hickory.  But the client wanted it done like the table you have seen before here… } Allow paint to dry completely.  I sand the top with a light 220 to make sure it is smooth.  And then apply the stain using a staining pad.  Again this was a long table and my workout session began… shimmy down one way and back up the next.  It was fun, I had music going and acted like a teenager!! Really… Don’t worry too much about the first coat.  And follow the direction on the can of stain that you use.  Some manufactures are a little different.  Allow to dry completely!! This is so important.  You don’t want it too tacky.  And if it isn’t drying- you likely put too much stain on to begin with.  So thin coats!!


I sanded down the edges so you could see the paint a bit and the time worn look still prevailed!! It was beautiful.  All the gorgeous knicks and scuffs still there.  15 years of LOVE in this table!! And now she could love it again with it’s new look.  The legs went well with the chairs that I did sitting in the living area just next to the table.  You can revisit those here. Imagine gorgeous teal velvet adorning those chairs!!


The top was finished off with Annie Sloan’s clear wax.  I didn’t use any dark wax on the top of this one.  It was stained to just the perfect color and dark wax wasn’t going to change that.  I used 3 coats of wax.  Buffing in between each coat.  This proved to be the toughest part of this table. Not because wax is hard to use, but it was so long and big!! And the weather was a killer!! This particular homeowner isn’t a stranger to wax finishes and I knew she would know how to maintain it.  So, I did use wax!! There is a period of time that the wax isn’t cured fully and you have to be delicate with heat and moisture in the beginning!! But after that {usually with AS wax 21-30 days}, treat it like you would any other fine furnishings.  Don’t drag a metal trivet across, use placemats, use hot pads under hot dishes.  The simple things will keep your pieces looking new for years!!

Why didn’t I use MB clear wax? I know this will be a question so I am going to address it here and now.  I could have.   But with AS you get that waxy finish that buffs to higher sheen.  MB is a matte finish and I needed the sheen!!  That simple.  If you want to use MB clear on a table top- it is durable enough to do so.  You will just have matte finish. 

With all waxes when you clean your table top- use a damp cloth to do so.  If you need something a little stronger try and use a green cleaning product first.  You will need to reapply wax over time- and that is okay!! I will say that when choosing a wax- the ones that are water based and “green” you will give up a bit of durability on those.  So, be advised there.  Many people who complain of faulty wax finishes are using those types of waxes.  The AS, Fiddes, and MB may all have a little more smell to them but they work!! And I happen to love that smell… but I digress!!  And after all that hard work, you certainly want to protect that finish!!


Thank you for your patience in this post.  I hope I answered all of your questions!! I love to help and I am happy to do it!!

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  1. Kerry says:

    Wonderful job, it looks so good. I’m going to be doing this on a table that does have leaves – do you recommend doing this treatment with the leaves in or doing them separately. I’m a little worried, that when I take the leaves out – which is how my table will be 90% of the time, that the finish will look funny – won’t line up…Is this a valid concern or just my perfectionism talking? : )

    • Lori says:

      Thank you Kerry… Leaves are so tough!! For my personal table I have them painted the same as the table top, but I use it everyday- so the wear is uniform. When you don’t use them the finish will not be the same. In that case, you can opt for something fun. You could do a pattern or stencil or just a different color that compliments… possibilities are endless. Have fun!! Send finished pics!!

  2. Liz says:

    That is so cool. You did a great job! Thank you for the great tutorial. 🙂
    Have a great week!

  3. alysia says:

    GORGEOUS!! Ive never tried painting a top then staining over it! What kind of stain did u use??? Was it a gel??? Or a polyshade?


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