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How to Refinish a Table with Paint and a Stencil

There are so many amazing stencils available for use these days that it can be hard to choose the right one. To narrow down the search, we started with the furniture piece in need of a update and then considered the style we wanted to achieve. Since we were pairing this table with other beachy decor, we selected a fun fish scale stencil.

how to refinish a table with paint and a stencil

The stencil creates a really neat subtle effect when applying the pattern with a tonal paint colour (meaning a few shades lighter or darker in colour than the base coat). The fish scale detail shows when you are up close to the table but from afar it is not so noticeable.

stenciling furniture

Yellow is not a colour we typically decorate with, but have fallen in love with these little touches of sunlight. See how we used this paint to create a pineapple succulent planter!

Supplies Needed to refinish a table with Paint and a Stencil:

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How to Refinish a Table with Paint and a Stencil:

Step 1: Prep work

Wipe the side table down thoroughly with warm, soapy water to remove the grime and oils. Make sure that the piece is completely dry before moving on to the next steps.

Step 2: Apply a stain blocker

Although not always necessary, this step is important if you are going from a really dark colour of wood to a lighter color, a wood with lots of knots, or a piece that is stained. The natural tannins in the wood will bleed through your piece over time and a good stain blocker will stop this chemical reaction. In this particular case, I skipped this step because my paint colour was yellow so I was less concerned with yellowing.  We have used Decoart Americana Decor Stain Blocker/Sealer on many other furniture refinishes like this upcycled dresser, it dries clear and provides a durable finish.

Step 3: Paint

Apply a thick coat of chalky paint in rejuvenate with a really soft brush or roller to avoid streaking. Ensure that the first coat is completely dry before applying a second coat of needed (it can also be diluted with a bit of water for a smoother second coat). Leave it to dry fully before moving on to stenciling.

Step 4: Stenciling

Place the stencil on the tabletop surface and carefully tape in place (use a tape that’s not too sticky).  Mix equal parts of Rejuvenate and Everlasting together to get a tonal shade of yellow.


Using a soft bristle stenciling brush, dip into the mixed paint and then carefully paint over the stencil. Less is more with stenciling so be sure to apply a little bit of paint at a time.


Work in sections: peel away the stencil and leave the first section to dry fully. Repeat this step until your table top is fully stenciled. Join the stencil as best you can so pattern is continuous.

stenciling a table

Step 5: Seal and protect

A highly recommended step is the application of a wax to seal and protect the painted table. We used the Americana Decor Clear Crème Wax which is non-yellowing and provides a durable finish. This wax can also be buffed to create a high-gloss sheen but we preferred to leave our piece with a matte finish.

how to refinish a table with paint and stencil

You can learn more about special techniques such a distressing, dry brushing, stenciling and more on the Americana Decor Chalky Finish Paint Education page.

We can’t believe the transformation of this little side table! It looks perfect in our beachy-themed bedroom next to our refinished seaside blue headboard and along with our coordinating driftwood LAKE wall art!

how to refinish a table with paint and stencil

What experience have you had with stenciling?

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Saturday 19th of August 2017

What a fun project! Great way to add some character and interest to piece of furniture. Neelam

Jane and Sonja

Sunday 20th of August 2017

Thank you so much Neelam. It's such a subtle way to create some texture with paint.


Thursday 17th of August 2017

Adorable! I am a huge fan of stencils...and yellow!

Jane and Sonja

Thursday 17th of August 2017

Thank you so much Kim. We definitely don't use stencils enough - almost paralyzed by the possibilities!


Thursday 17th of August 2017

Such a cute table! I love the color!

Jane and Sonja

Thursday 17th of August 2017

Thank you so much Emy!

Joann @ Woman In Real Life

Wednesday 9th of August 2017

The yellow table looks so great with the blue bed! So fresh and sunny. The stencil work is amazing too.

Jane and Sonja

Monday 14th of August 2017

Thank you Joann! It's the perfect colour for the cottage.

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