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Bringing Festive Charm to Your Dining Space: A Guide to Refinishing Tables and Chairs for the Holidays

Festive Dining: Refinishing Tables & Chairs for Holiday Charm

As the holidays approach, your home becomes a haven for cherished gatherings and festive celebrations. At the heart of these moments is your dining space — a place where memories are shared and traditions are born. Imagine transforming this vital area into a more inviting and personalized space that’s perfectly tailored for hosting family and friends. 

Refinishing your dining table and chairs can be the perfect way to create a welcoming environment for all those who enter it. By blending tradition with your unique style, you can be sure to create a room perfect for the holiday season. 

The Holiday Impact: Why Refinish for the Festive Season?

Festive Dining: Tables & Chairs for Holiday Charm

Create a Warm and Inviting Atmosphere for Gatherings

The holidays are synonymous with warmth, love and togetherness. Refinishing your dining set is more than a home improvement project — it’s about creating an ambiance that welcomes and embraces your guests. A beautifully refinished table and chairs can become the centerpiece of your holiday gatherings and set the stage for festive meals and heartfelt conversations.

Showcase Your Unique Style and Attention to Detail

Your home is a reflection of your personality and style. Refinishing your dining set allows you to express yourself and showcase your attention to detail. Whether you choose a classic wood finish or a bold, modern twist, this project is an opportunity to infuse your personal touch into your holiday décor.

Preserve and Enhance Sentimental Furniture Pieces for Special Occasions

For many, dining sets are more than just furniture — they are heirlooms rich with history and sentiment. Refinishing treasured pieces not only preserves them but also enhances their beauty and significance, making them even more special for holiday celebrations.

Assess Your Dining Set

The picture depicts a dining room table with six chairs on top of an oriental carpet. There is a large window with a wreath decoration on top.

Before diving into the refinishing process, it’s crucial to assess the current state of your dining set. Evaluate its condition and identify any damage, scratches or wear. Consider the existing style of the set and envision how it can be transformed to align with your holiday theme.

Choosing the Right Finish — Stain or Clear Coat?

ZAR® Interior Oil Base Stain

The ZAR Interior Oil Base Stain is a versatile and easy-to-use wiping stain that works wonders on a variety of surfaces. Its specially formulated formula ensures consistent color without streaks or lap marks. 

Plus, you can apply it directly over previously painted or varnished surfaces without stripping, making refinishing a breeze. The best part is you can even use it for decorative faux finishing and color toning on non-wood surfaces.

ZAR Interior Oil Base Poly

The ZAR Interior Oil Base Poly is a high-performance polyurethane that’s perfect for achieving a smooth finish on bare wood. This product is known for its quick drying time and setting without brush marks. 

It’s incredibly durable with a tough, scratch-resistant finish that’s great for flooring, furniture and general woodwork. In addition, its self-leveling properties make it easy to apply smoothly, whether you’re a professional or tackling a DIY project.

A Step-by-Step Refinishing Guide


1. Gather the Necessary Tools and Materials

Essential tools for this project include sandpaper of various grits, a paintbrush and a dust mask for safety. Materials needed consist of the chosen stain or clear coat and a wood conditioner if you’re working with softwood. Don’t forget a good quality sealer to protect your newly refinished piece.

2. Protect the Surrounding Areas with Drop Cloths

To ensure the refinishing process does not damage or stain your surroundings, it’s crucial to thoroughly cover the work area with drop cloths. This includes protecting the floor and any nearby furniture or walls to prevent any stray drips or dust from causing unwanted messes.

3. Remove the Existing Finish Using the Appropriate Methods

Safely removing the existing finish is a crucial step in the refinishing process. Depending on the type of finish, it can involve processes such as sanding or using a chemical stripper. Always make sure to follow safety guidelines.

Repairs and Upgrades

4. Remove Old Varnish

ZAR Paint and Varnish Remover is a robust solution for removing coatings like paints, polyurethanes, two-part epoxy coatings and light industrial and marine-grade finishes. 

This product stands out for its eco-friendly and flame-resistant semi-paste formula that makes it safe for the environment. It works on various surfaces without causing damage to the underlying finish.

5. Fill in Scratches, Cracks and Dents with Wood Filler

ZAR Patch Wood Filler is a highly versatile latex compound used by both professional contractors and DIY enthusiasts for repairing wood surfaces. It effectively fills nail holes, cracks and other minor defects in wood. Its minimal shrinkage and ability to be nailed, sawed, sanded or drilled make it an excellent choice for a wide range of repair applications.

6. Tighten Loose Joints and Screws

Over time, dining sets may develop loose joints and screws as a result of usage.

  • Start by identifying any loose joints or screws in your dining set.

  • If any are found, use a screwdriver or an appropriate tool to tighten them. In case a joint is loose, you may need to use wood glue to secure it.

  • Apply the glue into the joint and make sure that it is evenly distributed, then clamp the joint until the glue is properly dried.

Always remember to wipe off any excess glue immediately to prevent it from hardening on the surface of your furniture.

7. Consider Adding Decorative Elements, Like New Hardware or Accents

Decorative elements can significantly enhance the aesthetic appeal of your dining set:

  • Consider replacing old, worn-out hardware such as handles or knobs with new, stylish hardware that matches your desired theme. This simple upgrade can drastically change the look of your furniture by making it appear more modern or rustic, depending on your choice of hardware.

  • Accent pieces, such as elaborate carvings or inlays, can also be added to infuse a personalized touch into your dining set.

  • If you’re aiming for a minimalist style, consider adding subtle accents like a smooth, polished edge or a contrasting color stripe.

For a more opulent look, ornate motifs or gilded accents could be your go-to option.

Sanding and Smoothing

8. Choose the Right Grit Sandpaper for Each Stage

  • Start the sanding process with a coarse grit sandpaper, typically 60 or 80 grit, to remove the major imperfections. This grit is also effective in removing old paint or varnish. It’s important to remember not to press too hard or you might leave scratches that are too deep to remove in the later stages.

  • For the second stage, switch to medium-grit sandpaper, usually 120 or 150 grit. This will smooth out the scratches left by the coarse grit and prepare the wood for the final sanding.

  • The final stage involves a fine-grit sandpaper, usually 220 grit. This is used to polish your furniture and get it ready for staining. It will provide a smooth and clean surface to help ensure that the stain or paint adheres properly.

Remember, when sanding, always follow the grain of the wood to avoid creating cross-grain scratches that could mar the finish. After each stage, wipe the furniture with a damp cloth to remove any dust before proceeding to the next stage.

9. Sand All Surfaces, Including Corners and Edges

To achieve a uniform finish, it’s crucial to sand all surfaces of your furniture, including corners and edges. Utilize smaller, handheld sanding blocks or sponges for hard-to-reach areas and more intricate details. A power sander may save time on larger, flat surfaces, but manual sanding offers a higher degree of control, particularly on corners, edges and detailed carvings.

10. Ensure a Smooth and Even Surface for the New Finish

Before applying the new finish, it’s essential to ensure that your furniture surface is as smooth and even as possible. Wipe the entire surface with a tack cloth to remove any remaining dust. Then, gently run your hand over the furniture to feel for any rough spots that may have been missed during sanding.

Applying the Stain

11. Apply Multiple Coats, Allowing Adequate Drying Time Between Each

When applying the stain, it’s important to start with a light coat and be sure to follow the grain of the wood. Apply the stain using a brush or clean cloth and make sure that it penetrates the wood evenly. Allow the first coat to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions — it can vary between 2 to 8 hours.

After the first coat has dried, assess the color. If you want a darker hue, apply a second coat, again allowing adequate drying time. Repeat this process until you achieve your desired color depth and remember that each coat of stain darkens the wood further.

12. Consider Protective Sealants for Added Durability

To prolong the life of your newly refinished dining set, consider applying a protective sealant. This step is crucial for pieces used frequently or exposed to excessive wear and tear. Sealants like polyurethane or varnish provide a durable protective layer against scratches, stains and moisture and are available in various sheens from high gloss to matte.

Decorating Tips for Your Newly Refinished Dining Set

The picture depicts an overhead angle of a table with winter-themed place settings.

With your dining set refinished, complement it with festive table linens, seasonal centerpieces and chair cushions that enhance comfort and style. The finishing touches will tie the entire look together to create a stunning and welcoming holiday dining space.

Utilize the Best in Wood Stains and Sealers from ZAR

The picture depicts a table with various types of desserts.

Now that you’ve learned how to refinish your dining set with ease, it’s essential to use top-quality wood stains and sealers to ensure the job gets done correctly. Rely on ZAR — all of our products are designed to enhance the beauty of your wood furniture while offering maximum protection. 

Experience the ZAR difference today and let your dining set be the star of your holiday gatherings. Contact us today for a retail location near you!