Drop leaf tables are a seriously cool type of furniture. They are so versatile! Tuck them in a nook as an occasional games table or lift up the leaves for a larger dining surface. Painting a drop leaf table is a great way to refresh an old piece and add some extra charm. Below we share with you our best tips for painting a drop leaf table for a lasting finish!
Should I paint a drop leaf table?
Drop leaf tables are thought to date back to the late sixteenth century and have continued to be popular ever since. Because they have enjoyed such a long run, it’s not uncommon to find older drop leaf tables that have been well loved. Is it worth painting a drop leaf table? Absolutely! There is a chance that painting a true antique with a flawless original finish *could* reduced it’s value. But, chances are if you are reading this, you’ve already thought about painting your piece for a reason. We always believe furniture is worth more to you if you love it. If painting it would make you happy, we say go for it!
This drop leaf table came with a property we purchased recently. It was pretty unremarkable. We decided to up the cuteness factor with a little makeover.
Supplies for painting a drop leaf table
- Sand paper
- Primer (optional depending on the colour you choose)
- Stencil (optional)
Tip # 1 – prep for painting a drop leaf table
Always start by cleaning your drop leaf table. Even if your furniture looks clean, there are most likely oils on the surface that can compromise your paint finish if you don’t remove them first. We use a TSP alternative like this.
We highly recommend scuff sanding the surface as well before you paint. We know some paint brands advertise that you don’t need to sand first, however, a light sanding to give a little tooth to the surface will go a long way to ensuring your paint adheres well to your drop leaf table.
If you are painting white, we also recommend you prime before painting. White doesn’t have much pigment in it so it takes more coats to get good coverage. For other colours, we typically don’t prime first anymore but wait and see if there is any wood bleed. If any spots do appear, we use a clear primer, like this one, to spot prime before the next paint coat.
Tip # 2 – painting near the hinges
The best way to tackle painting a drop leaf table is to take the leaves off first. It might seem like this isn’t worth the time, but it will save you so much time trying to get in along the inside edges.
We used mineral paint because it goes on smoothly, self levels and covers really well. For more details on why we use mineral paint, read this post. This colour is a combination of Blueberry and and Twilight from Cottage Paint. You can use our code, threecoatsofcharm10, to get a discount. Pro tip: you can easily mix paints from the same brand to get the exact colour you want.
We chose to leave the top of this drop leaf table unpainted. We sanded off the old finish and added a stencil in the same colour as the rest of the table. We finished off the wood top with this.
Tip # 3 – protect the finish of your drop leaf table
Our last tip for painting a drop leaf table is to protect the finish. Mineral paint doesn’t usually need a top coat but for high use pieces, such as a table, it is always a good idea to add extra protection. We use a polycrylic, like this, on the painted parts of the drop leaf table. We don’t recommend wax as top coat for tables.
Painting a drop leaf table is a great do-it-yourself project for beginners! If you take the time to prep, remove the leaves and apply a top coat you will have a unique and charming piece for your home. A painted drop leaf table is not just a beautiful piece to look at, but it is practical too! So next time a family member offers you a sweet little drop leaf table or you one on the curb, scoop it up and follow these tips for painting a drop leaf table. As always, we’d love to hear what you think about this makeover in the comments!