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Dining Table Update

Table with Tea/Steel Wool/Vinegar Stain

Well last week was a little crazy with wind storms and trees down everywhere but I did manage to find some time to work on the table. There wasn’t a whole lot else to do without power.  No complaints here though. It could have been a LOT worse.

So…while my very nice and thoughtful husband did this:

I did this:

Good thing my power sander was already charged so I could give the legs a few final touches before painting them. I’m diggin’ this look by the way.

This is the table now.Totally in love with this table. No really, I just sit and stare at it. Does that make me a little weird? Probably.

This is the table before.

So if you are wondering how I did this here goes.

I started by completely sanding the stain off the top with a power sander using 80 grit sanding pads since I knew I would be staining it. For the base I only gave it a rough once over sanding since I would be painting it. Then I did a little research online about “weathering” new wood. There are several ways to do it but this is the one I went with.

  • Step 1: Prep the stain. Soak some steel wool in white vinegar in a glass jar for at least 24 hours. I used steel wool grade #0000 and used enough vinegar to completely cover the wool. Here’ s a little tip. DO NOT screw the lid on tight.  After about 20 minutes of it sitting on the kitchen counter we heard this strange noise like frying bacon or running water. When we realized it was my little science experiment, and found that the jar was HOT we panicked a little. Luckily Bill was brave enough to take it outside and open it. I was totally prepared for an explosion but thankfully nothing happened so I just sat the lid loosely on top. Crisis averted.

  • Step 2: After you have soaked the steel wool for at least 24 hours and are ready to use the stain you need to brew a strong cup of hot tea and let it cool.
  • Step 3: Apply the tea to the table. I applied one coat using a paint brush. Not a lot but just enough to soak into the wood. It totally freaked me out because this is how it looked wet. It went back to the original color after it dried and it dried pretty quickly.

  • Step 4: This is the best part.  Apply the vinegar solution. I used a paint brush but you could also use a cloth. Just rub it on then wipe off the excess. It’s that easy. I actually applied a second coat just for kicks and because it looked a little light. You could give this a REALLY weathered look by banging the table up a little on the top but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I loved the look too much. I figure it will get beat up enough when we start using it.

About the edge of the table…. it wasn’t wood so I had to paint it to match the color of the table top. I just applied one coat of Clark & Kensington paint then distressed it a little with 150 grit sandpaper to make it blend in with the wood. The color is called Slate Brown. I had originally found this paint swatch at Sears but I took it to Ace Hardware and they whipped it up for me.

I painted the base of the table with two coats of homemade chalk paint in Balboa Mist. It is a Benjamin Moore color but again I had it made in Clark & Kensington. If you don’t know about chalk paint I will just tell you. It. Is. Awesome. No sanding required, it will stick to anything, and it is easy to distress. There are a lot of ways to make it but this is the recipe I use. I found it at FYI…her blog is GREAT!

So that’s it for now. I’m currently working on the chairs and hope to have them done soon. I am painting them the same color as the table base but I’m thinking I will distress them so they look a little different from the table.

Now I just have to decide on a fabric for the chair seats. I’m loving ALL of these fabrics from!!


Updated with Questions & Answers on 10/20/2015!!

I’ve had so many questions and e-mails about this process that I thought it would be a good idea to answer some of them here in this post. This is my most pinned project and I know y’all are using this tutorial, so I want to you to be able to do it with confidence and know what to expect. Here are the answers to the questions I have been asked the most.

  1. Did you add a protective finish? No, I didn’t. Not at first. I wanted to see how it would wear without it. Here’s the verdict. Even with tablecloths and place mats it got stained with regular use. But I was able to sand out all the discolored spots and reapply more stain before adding a protective finish.
  2. What did you use to protect it? When I did add the protective finish I used Rustoleum Ultimate Polyurethane in Matte finish. It’s one of my all-time favorite products. It protects really well and doesn’t leave a shiny finish.
  3. How may coats of stain did you use? One coat of tea and two coats of vinegar.
  4. Is it normal that it left a weird odor? An odor is normal but is should go away after a week or two. At least that was my experience.
  5. Do you have to soak the steel wool for 24 hours? Yes! So plan ahead. Start soaking it the day before you want to apply the stain.
  6. This process didn’t work on my piece. Why not? It can be unpredictable depending on the type of wood you’re using it on. This is why it’s so important to test it first, on a small spot of the piece you’re refinishing. Save yourself some time.
  7. Did you use a specific type of tea? I don’t remember exactly what kind of tea I used but I brewed it in my Keurig. I don’t really think it matters but it’s probably best to stick with something basic. Nothing flavored or scented.

Tea/Vinegar/Steel Wool Stained Table

I don’t actually have the table anymore. As much as I loved the look it just wasn’t the right size for our space. So I sold it to a very cool girl and I know it got a great home. That might sound a little weird but when you work that hard on something you want it to go to a home where it will be appreciated. :)


Download my printable

Tea & Vinegar Stain Quick Guide !!

Tea & Vinegar Stain Quick Guide from The Styled Soul




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  • Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating

    July 13, 2012 at 1:40 am

    That looks AMAZING!! Love the color that your table top turned with the vinegar. I was expecting mine to turn a little grayer than it did, but it actually had lots of red in it. I’m definitely going to try it again. Perhaps mine was different because I was too impatient to wait 24 hours…LOL.

  • martha at

    July 20, 2012 at 12:44 am

    WOW. I have never read about this process. So, does the vinegar react with the tea in some way to produce the color? And I would assume that the final color would be somewhat different for other types of wood? Did you know exactly what color you would get after using the vinegar? Thanks for the help… I’m very intrigued.

    1. Stephanie

      July 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm

      Hi Martha,

      The tea just helps to create/add tannins to the wood. Some woods have more than others but basically I think it just makes the finish darker. I would think you would get a different reaction from different woods. It’s the vinegar/steel wool that reacts to the wood. Honestly this is the first time I have ever used this treatment so I didn’t know for sure what color I would get but the grey color was EXACTLY what I was going for so luckily it worked. Haha! If you try it let me know how it goes.

      1. Trishia Pitts

        July 6, 2013 at 10:24 am

        I LOVE this idea so I went out and got the 0000 steel wool and vinegar. Mine has been in a glass jar for 15 hours and it looks the same as it did when I first put it in….. I expected the vinegar to “react” in some way and dissolve the steel wool or something. Is the vinegar liquid supposed to look just like vinegar? I’m feeling like it’s not right.

        1. Stephanie Kent @ The Styled Soul

          July 6, 2013 at 5:16 pm

          Hey Trishia,

          No that sounds right. Did you use distiller white vinegar? I don’t think it starts to get murky until after about a week or two. It’s probably a good idea to test it first though on an inconspicuous spot of the table.

          Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Brooke

    July 20, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    I’m pretty sure I just found my new dining room table. Just bring it on over!

    1. Stephanie

      July 21, 2012 at 11:36 am

      Hahaha! Brooke I told you we are going to BUILD your table.

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  • Marjorie

    February 16, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    this finish is just what I am looking for! Help me to understand this part- The vinegar and steel wool create the liquid you apply with a brush- the steel wool is discarded.?
    Your results are stunning!

    1. Stephanie @ The Styled Soul

      February 16, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      Hi Marjorie! Thanks! Yes, you will apply the liquid that is created from the steel wool and vinegar mixture and you can use a paintbrush to do so. You can discard the steel wool if you want to but it isn’t totally necessary. I tried draining the liquid into another jar through a coffee filter but it just made a big mess. So I ended up just dipping the paint brush into the jar with the steel wool. If you use a big enough jar it is easier to avoid the paint brush getting on the steel wool, though it shouldn’t hurt anything if the brush touches it. Just keep in mind that there might be small bits of the steel wool floating in the liquid but they won’t stick to your surface they way they would if it was paint. Hope this helps.

      Thanks for stopping by! Let me know how it turns out.

  • Rachel Hamm

    March 1, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Thank you for the tutorial…your table is beautiful! This is how I’m going to refinish our dining furniture! Is there any way to seal it? My family is VERY hard on table tops with crafting and general roughianism…

    1. Stephanie @ The Styled Soul

      March 1, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      Thanks Rachel! Yes you can seal it and I highly recommend it. As far as the base of the table, a lot of people use wax to seal chalk paint but I have always used Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic. It seals and protects really well. Also, since it is water-based it won’t cause the white paint to yellow over time. As far as the top goes you could use the same finish but I don’t think it is available in a “matte” finish. Which would be fine if you want the top to have a little shine. If not, then I recommend Rust-Oleum Ultimate Polyurethane in a matte finish. It’s awesome. I used it on my Union Jack coffee table (which is where we usually eat) and the table still looks great.

      Hope this helps! Thanks for stopping by and let me know how it goes.

      1. Jessie

        September 7, 2016 at 1:39 am

        When I applied the poly, it turned my entire surface an extremely dark, almost black color. Have you ever had that experience? It was absolute perfection prior to the poly :(


          September 9, 2016 at 2:07 pm

          Hi Jessie! I have never had that happen, and I hate that it happened to you. What kind of poly did you use? It might be worth sanding the poly and trying something different.

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  • Jennifer

    May 18, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    I LOVE this table!! I bought a table about 6 years ago that is the Farmhouse style and I am over the color, it is all just a honey stained color and the chairs are the same. Did you have to sand down the legs of the table too? I am not sure how to try to tackle the chairs b/c they have the slats on the back and the spindle style legs. Do you have to get the old stain completely off? I am not sure what kind of wood my table is so it makes me nervous not knowing the outcome!

    1. Stephanie Kent @ The Styled Soul

      May 18, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      Thanks Jennifer! In answer to your first question, I just gave the legs a rough once over sanding. Just enough to knock off the shine. To answer your second question, if you are going to paint the chairs with chalk paint you don’t really have to sand them. If you are planning on staining them you would probably need to use a stripper to remove the stain. To answer your third question, yes you need to remove all the stain ONLY if you are going to re-stain everything. When painting, you can just paint right over the stain. The most important factor is whether or not your table is SOLID wood. If it has veneers on it then the stain probably won’t work. If there is a spot somewhere on the table that you can test first (that would not be too noticeable) I would try that first. I don’t know what type of wood my table is but it was VERY light in color after I sanded off the stain so if that is the case with yours and it is solid wood it will probably work.

      I hope this info helps you and thanks so much for stopping by .

      Good Luck!!

      1. Jennifer Hanshew

        May 18, 2013 at 9:07 pm

        Thanks so much! So, if I do the chairs in chalk, then there is no need to sand? I think I like that idea and then going over with the paint to distress :) Have you ever painted chairs with the spindles before? I am guessing that it will be pretty time consuming. I would like to do this but then I know the painting of the table will turn into a whole room make-over :

        1. Stephanie Kent @ The Styled Soul

          May 18, 2013 at 9:17 pm

          Hey Jennifer,
          That’s right, there’s really no need to sand all the stain off when using chalk paint but it can’t hurt to just give the chairs a rough once over with some sandpaper, nothing major. Just be sure to wipe them down really well before you paint. I haven’t painted chairs with spindles, it probably will take some time but I’m sure it will be worth it. You might consider spray painting the chairs if you don’t want to spend a lot of time on them. Just a thought….

          Let me know what you decide to do. I would love to see the before and after!

  • Mike

    July 14, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Hi Stephanie, is there a specific type of tea that you used? Do you know if different types will produce different shades? Thanks

    1. Stephanie Kent @ The Styled Soul

      July 14, 2013 at 9:15 pm

      Hi Mike,

      I’m so sorry but I don’t remember exactly what type of tea I used. I do remember that I brewed it in my Keurig machine. I honestly don’t think it matters what kind you use but its probably best to stick with something basic. If you are using a tea bag Just be sure to brew it long enough so that it is pretty strong. And it’s always a good idea to test a small spot on the piece you are refinishing, if possible, before doing the while thing.

      I hope this helps and thanks for stopping by!

  • jenni

    January 5, 2014 at 3:24 am

    Love this idea, you’re table looks gorgeous! Im going to attempt this project tomorrow! I was wondering if you could tell me the names of the fabrics pictured. They are exactly my color scheme! Thanks again for sharing!


      January 5, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      Thanks so much Jenni! I’m sorry, I really don’t know the names of the fabrics but at the time I posted them they were available at If they are still available you could probably find them on their site by doing a search for “grey” and “black and white”. I’m pretty sure that’s how I found them. Good luck with your table!!


    January 5, 2014 at 2:15 pm

  • Rachel Makin

    July 3, 2014 at 2:48 am

    I did this technique on a salvaged TV console. It looks amazing but after two days it still smells horrible!! It smells kind of musty and rusty. Did you have an issue with that?


      July 10, 2014 at 1:18 am

      Hi Rachel! I didn’t have an issue with the smell. It went away after about a week. I’m glad you had good results with the look. I would LOVE to see it!

  • Sydney

    August 11, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    I’m currently doing this technique on a bookshelf. It has two different types of wood. One is coming out the most perfect grey, the other is not. It still looks light and yellowish. You said you did two coats on the table. Was that just the vinegar solution or did you do two coats of the tea as well? Thanks.


      August 12, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      Hi Sydney! Different types of wood do take stain differently. So if you’re not happy with the outcome when you’re finished, you might check Ace Hardware or Lowe’s for some grey tinted wood stain to apply to the yellow part of the bookcase. Since the stain is already tinted it might have a better effect on the yellow part. Oh, and to answer your question I only used one coat of the tea. Good luck!! I would love to see it when you’re finished, e-mail a pic and let me know how it turned out. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • Mary Lambert

    January 26, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    hi, yours turned out beautiful! i tried this on some pine apple boxes. came out a lot more reddish than i had wanted, and it also has a sort of dusty feeling to it. should i just wipe down with a damp cloth? or will sealing it with the matte polyurethane do the trick? also, any ideas on how i can tone down the color? thanks:)


      January 27, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      Thanks Mary! Strange that yours turned out red. However the stain is a little unpredictable, which is why I always try to test a spot before I do an entire piece. Before you applied the stain was the wood a very pale color? or was it darker? Also did you apply the tea before you applied the stain? It seems to come out more grey on lighter, more pale wood. I’m not sure how to tone the color down other than maybe sanding some of it out, or completely removing the stain. You can actually purchase stain in a grey finish, you might try that. As far as the dusty feel, yes I would sand, wipe it off and then apply the polyurethane. Good luck!

  • Lisa

    March 4, 2015 at 3:09 am

    Wow! I love this look of this table top! I just bought a table at the good will that I’ve started, plan on posting for sale when done.
    I never heard of this process before, and I’m definately doing it on this piece. I really need to get myself a good sander because hand sending is for the birds:/
    I wish I took a before photo of the table and chairs together, just wanted to get started.
    Thanks for the info:)


      March 4, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      Hi Lisa! Thanks so much! Yeah, I agree with you. Hand sanding is the worst. If you do a lot of furniture makeovers then a power sander would be a great investment. Just one thing…the table is solid wood, right? I’m not sure this would work on veneers. I’ve never tried it. Good luck with the makeover, I would love to see it when you’re finished. Thanks so much for following along!

  • jill

    March 25, 2015 at 2:05 am

    It looks beautiful!!! Did you put any kind of sealer on the table top?


      March 25, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      Thank you Jill! I didn’t use a sealer but I highly recommend using one if you’re going to use this finish on something that will get a lot of use.

  • Melissa

    April 1, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    I’m about to stain my pine table with the vinegar and steel wool solution. Do i do the first coat with tea, then apply the steel wool liquid then do i apply another coat of tea mix before second coat of vinegar and steel wool liquid?


      April 2, 2015 at 1:56 am

      Hi Melissa! I only used one coat of tea. That went on first. Then, you can apply the vinegar and steel wool. I don’t think there is any need to apply a second coat of tea. Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m happy to help! Thanks!

  • Karen

    April 4, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    i was wondering can you buy the chalk paint already mixed ready to use ….or do you mix paint with sanded grout? Also is color variation due to length of time leave tea on of thickness you put steel wool vinegar solution. Is it white distiller vinegar?


      April 7, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      Hi Karen! You can buy chalk paint but I have always made my own. I make it with non-sanded grout. I think color variation has more to do with the amount of time you soak the steel wool in the vinegar as well as the type of wood you’re using the stain on. I used white distilled vinegar. Thanks for your interest!

  • Maura

    April 26, 2015 at 3:23 am

    I love this idea! I just bought a table off of Craigslist with awesome details. I can’t wait to get started. thanks so much for sharing!


      May 2, 2015 at 10:59 am

      Hi Maura! Craigslist is the best for cool finds. Good luck with your table. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • Angela

    April 28, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    love love LOVE this color!!! My table is the round Pottery Barn table that is Antique white…I’ve been wanting to do something like this to that. Do you think it will work? I have no idea what kind of wood it is bc its painted white with no wood grain and a pretty glossy finish…lmk if you have any experience with this!!??? Thanks!!!


      May 2, 2015 at 11:03 am

      Hi Angela,

      I don’t know a lot about Pottery Barn furniture. Do you think it’s solid wood? If it isn’t, I wouldn’t try this stain on it. If you’re not able to stain it then you could give it a light sanding and then paint it grey. Good luck and thanks for reading!!

  • Keri

    June 4, 2015 at 12:38 am

    So I did this based on how GORGEOUS your table looks. My table was huge and really sucked to sand lol but I finished the top staining today and it’s beyond beautiful!! Seriously, I found your table on Pinterest and followed the link and I am SO glad I did. Especially since it’s my husband’s mom’s table. Ha!

    So, it’s in a covered area with fans drying overnight, but I’m just wondering how long the smell of vinegar lasts? I noticed in the comments you say to seal it, but I’m not sure if it would change the beautiful finish & so I can’t decide! Thanks so much!


      June 4, 2015 at 11:01 am

      Hi Keri! I’m so glad you love your table again! Yeah, sanding is one of my least favorite things. It shouldn’t change the finish if you seal it, but that really depends on what you use. If you don’t want a shiny look then you can get a polyurethane in a matte finish. I didn’t seal the top of my table and it did get stained. But I was able to sand those spots out and refinish it. You could always test a small spot first if you’re worried about the result, but it should be fine. I would love to see a picture of it.


  • helen

    August 6, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Hi! I just LOVE this technique! Thank you so much for sharing! I’m in the middle of doing my dining table and I just have a couple questions.. Will it get darker with more coats? and, Did you use a wax or polyurethane or any finish on it to seal it? Thank you so much!


      August 9, 2015 at 11:34 am

      Hi Helen, I used two coats of stain on my table to make it a little darker but it was still pretty light. I didn’t seal the top but I highly recommend it. For other projects I have used Minwax polyurethane in “matte”. It seals really well without a shiny finish. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I would love to see the table when you’re done, if you would like to send me a pic.

  • Krystle

    February 7, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Hi, is it okay to use distilled white vinegar


      February 7, 2016 at 11:07 pm

      Yes absolutely! That’s what I normally use.

  • Brittany Moss

    March 17, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Hi, I love this table and have used your method to refinish mine and I love how it turned out. I read online that using steel wool with a water-based top coat (Rust-Oleum matte Polyurethane) can rust over time……Have you seen any evidence of this? Thanks


      March 20, 2016 at 12:37 pm

      Hi Brittany! No, I’ve never had this issue. I’m so glad you love your table again! I would love to see a before and after photo.

  • Ashley

    June 24, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Hi! I’m so excited to try this! I just finished painting the legs of my table in chalk paint. I bought SOS brand steel wool pads… And just realized they have soap in them. Will that still work?? If not then I’ll go try to find ones without soap in them! Thanks!


      June 27, 2016 at 11:08 am

      Hi Ashley! Probably best to use steel wool without soap. I can’t remember the brand I used but they were in a clear plastic bag. I think I found them at Ace Hardware. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Terryl Holzinger

    January 13, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    Thank you for this post!

    I have put tea and then the vinegar on. It’s not quite dark enough.

    Should I put tea (maybe stronger tea) on top of the vinegar and then layer it again?

    Thank you!



      January 16, 2017 at 11:52 am

      Hi Terryl! The darkness will vary based on the type of wood. I only used one coat of tea, but I did use two coats of stain. If that doesn’t work you could try applying a ready-made grey stain. Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck!

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