Updated Post: Tea, Vinegar, & Steel Wool Table

A few years ago I refinished an old oak stained dining table using tea, vinegar, and steel wool. It has been pinned a LOT, and I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the process, so I know people are using the tutorial. I want anyone who uses it to be able to get the best results possible. So I thought it might be a good idea to share this makeover again along with the most asked questions and answers. I also updated the original post.

table before

Tea/Vinegar/Steel Wool Stained Table

Download my printable

Tea & Vinegar Stain Quick Guide !!

You can read all about the makeover here. Sorry about the grainy photos. This is just a quick picture I took with my phone but you can see more by clicking through to the original post. Anyway, here are the answers to the questions I’ve gotten 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.

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 :)

Since we’ve moved I now have my own little work space in the basement and I’ve got a lot of projects lined up. So be on the lookout for some more furniture makeovers!



By stephaniemkent@yahoo.com

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  • Sheryll $ Critters.

    October 21, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    I see a bunch of posts using this, but it turned horribly orange for me. It is all about the type of wood for sure. I believe my lumber was Yellow Pine. I then tried Riustoleum Walnut, it was not for me either. So I ended up white washing with both white ceiling paint, pale blue wall paint and I think about half water mixed in. Took some trial and error, but I love my custom built by me, head board!

    1. stephaniemkent@yahoo.com

      November 5, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      Hey Sheryll! Hate that it didn’t work for you, but that’s why it’s so important to test it first. Your headboard sounds gorgeous though!

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