I am so proud of how our new dining room table turned out. I love all things farmhouse decor, and I wanted a farmhouse table for our dining room. The downside was definitely the cost. Instead of buying a farmhouse table I thought why not build a top for an existing table that would make it look farmhouse inspired. I've seen it all over Pinterest so it was really easy to get inspiration. I do plan on sharing as many steps as I can to help you build your table top. A lot of what I saw weren't actually tutorials. Some blogs had a couple of progress pictures but most didn't specify the size or type of wood used, what screws they used, and how to assemble the table top. This project took a lot of time because we had to do most of it in stages, but it's completely worth the time. My husband and I really love our table and it's such a great focal point in our dining room.
What started the project was a table that our good friends were getting rid of. They were upgrading to a big beautiful eight person table and kindly gave us their old table. It's a Target brand table that has a leaf in the middle so it extends to seat six. We added the leaf, then took measurements to see how wide it was across, and how long. We knew we wanted the table slightly larger so when we went to Home Depot for the wood we had some measurements to work with. We ended up extending the table 1.25 inches on either side of the width, and for the length we actually extended it by five inches on both sides. This definitely helped beef up the table. It still seats six but it's there's a little more elbow room now, and when we hosted brunch we sat eight people at the table. We also chopped quite a bit of height off of the table and chair legs. This was originally a bar height table so we took it down to the standard 30" table height.
I made my own chalk-style paint to paint the table and make it a slightly grayish white. I know I didn't want the espresso colored table, chairs, and buffet table. It would have been too dark, and I really loved all the pictures I saw online of the white tables with plank tops. I mixed up a random concoction using white flat paint and a little gray paint then added the baking soda. The chalk paint went on really easily. It has great coverage and dries super fast. By the time I finished the last leg it was already time to put on another coat. I let my paint cure for 24 hours, then I lightly sanded the entire surface to make it smooth. The baking soda chalk paint feels very gritty and rough, you can use a super fine sandpaper like 400 grit and you'll see as you sand it the paint comes off like chalk dust. Then when the entire table was super smooth I distressed it, and applied a coat of clear satin polycrylic. I ended up doing four coats of polycrylic on the table and legs. Please note I applied one coat of chalk paint on the top of the table and didn't bother sanding too much since it would be covered up anyway.
Now let's move onto the plank top, first things first take your measurements. Our completed table top ended up being 38 and 10/16 inches wide by 62 and 13/16 inches long. Once you add wood filler and sand, measurements change. So originally the boards were 63 inches long and 39.5 inches wide, and to give you and idea of the original table size it's 36 inches wide by 53 and 3/4 inches long. What we did was go to Home Depot and started picking out oak boards. We went with red oak because it's good quality and durable. For smaller projects like building a top for a coffee or side table you don't need wood that's as heavy duty. But for a dining room table that we want to last for years and years we spent a little more of the wood, I think it was $130 for the oak. With our measurements in mind we tried to find five boards that were the same length, four are the same width and the middle board is slightly wider. Then we found another piece that was double the width of the other boards, and we cut that in half to use as the bread boards on the ends of the table.
Now if you're going with bread boards (which I absolutely love the finished look of) you'll need a support. Our breadboards overlapped on the existing table by about two inches, which meant five full inches of wood was extended from the table without support. Picturing my daughter getting older and climbing on things, we knew if we didn't support these boards they would eventually snap off. My husband is great at overbuilding, which I really appreciate. Because now I never need to worry about someone putting their elbows on the table and breaking it. I'll talk more about the bread board supports later on.
Once you have your boards measured, remember always measure at least twice so you only have to cut once, have someone at your hardware store cut them to size for you. Once we got the boards home I stacked them on top of the table and then left them alone for over a week. I did a little research on wood and found that it needs to acclimate to it's environment otherwise it will warp. The last thing I wanted was a table that was gorgeous at first and completely wonky six months later. So the wood hung out, absorbing moisture and getting used to it's new home. After that I got started on distressing the wood. We bought brand new wood that was blonde and without many knots and had no dings or scratches. I hit the wood with bags of nails (doesn't work that well, the nails break the bag), I hit it with a huge screwdriver, I hammered over screws, and I used an impact driver with a funny looking attachment to really bang the wood up. Below you will see the wood before and a few of the imperfections I created.
Once I had the wood distressed, only on the top side, I took my sander and went around all of the edges of the wood sanding down the sharp edges to round everything off. Then I lightly sanded over the top and bottom of the wood just to smooth everything out. I didn't sand too much because I didn't want to wear away what I distressed, but some of the distressed parts can be sharp so you do want to lightly sand over the whole top. I only distressed the top side of the boards, since no one will ever see underneath. I wiped it all down with a damp cloth, and started staining the underside of the boards. I applied a heavy coat of Minwax wood stain in Espresso. Make sure you buy a wood stain and not a one step stain that has polyurethane or any kind of finishing clear coat. You just want wood conditioning stain. I let the stain sit for a long time, about 20 minutes, before I took a lint free rag and wiped off the excess stain. Unfortunately Minwax stains take a really long time to dry, so the boards came inside over night before we could move on.
You don't want bare wood for the table since it will absorb moisture more readily which can cause warping. I only did one coat of the dark stain for the underside, since the majority of it doesn't show, and followed with one coat of polycrylic to seal everything. Once the underside of the wood was dry, I flipped it back over and laid everything out to see where I wanted each board. Next it was time to screw everything down. We went with 1 1/2 inch T-star Spax screws. For each long board we used four screws, two on each end. We tried to space them as evenly as possible using a ruler and a level. For the bread boards we actually used 11 screws, again we like to overbuild around here. You will want to use wood glue to glue everything down before screwing it in. We actually completely forgot and only the bread boards got glued down, so far this hasn't caused any issues. For the supports on the bread boards we used four corner braces, I will link the ones we used since we went with two different sizes.
You can find the 6-hole braces here, and the 4-hole braces here. I spray painted the braces and screws with oil rubbed bronze, then gave them a very light spritz with copper spray paint over that. Due to the shape of the table top my husband used a multi tool to cut out little square notches so the braces could be flush against the table. Once the braces were attached I was able to fill any gaps between the boards with wood filler. I definitely recommend this step because for me personally the last thing I want to do is scrape out bits of food from the between the boards every time I clean the table, I just want to be able to wipe the whole thing down. I filled the gaps and let it dry overnight, then the next morning I got my sander out and sanded down all the wood filler and went around the table sanding down the sides to even everything out. The wood filler we used just happened to have a greenish tint to it, which did effect the look of the table. If you don't like that look then try to choose the appropriate wood filler for whatever stain you are using.
When you screw down the boards things are going to shift and line up differently, so once you have the boards screwed down you will probably end up with uneven edges like we did. It was off ever so slightly but enough that it would bother me, so I just gave it a good sanding to make sure I had straight lines. Once it was sanded down I wiped everything down with a damp cloth and got to staining. I applied the Minwax Espresso stain, let it sit for 20 minutes, then wiped it off.
I waited two hours then I went over it with a coat of Rustoleum stain in Sunbleached. I brushed it on one board, then moved onto the next. After I stained the second one I went back and wiped down the first board. Then I stained the third and went back to wipe down the second, and so on. Once I did the whole table top I let it dry for an hour then did another coat, same process as before. After a couple hours I was ready to start applying polycrylic. I used Minwax polycrylic in the clear satin finish, which is the most matte finish it comes in. I didn't want the table to be too glossy. I applied eight coats to the table top, waiting two hours in between coats and sanding with 400 grit paper in between each coat.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful. If you plan on trying this out and have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or email me, I would love to help!