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Farm Tables are in! A do it yourself guide to converting your existing table into a farm table for under $50

Updated on January 17, 2014

Converting your existing table into a farm style table can be quick and easy

The farm table look is in. In kitchens, dining rooms and breakfast nooks across America people are replacing their more traditional style tables and chairs with farm style tables and benches or a combination of one bench and chairs. Taste in home furnishings seem to have taken a turn toward the more rustic in the last few years with painted or painted and distressed pieces leading the way and depending upon the particular taste of the consumer, sometimes the older, more rustic and beat up a piece looks the better.

Having made my living in the furniture business, starting, running and ultimately selling two Facebook based businesses that re-purposed and marketed used furniture over the past 4 years, I consider myself to be somewhat of an authority on the subject. I must admit that it took sometime for me to come around and place myself among the ranks of distressed furniture lovers. It looked to me at first as if something that would be better thrown out than used or at the very least painted but I have done so much of it now at the request of my customers that the look has actually grown on me and I have several pieces of it in my home.

As the desire and demand for a more rustic look has grown, the old fashioned farm style, typically with a plank top, have grown in popularity as well. The problem for many however, especially younger home owners, is the cost. Farm tables can be expensive in some cases depending on size surpassing $1000. Often this situation leaves the homeowner wanting the look but simply not being able to afford it.

The purpose of this HUB is to provide a quick, easy and inexpensive alternative. In just a few simple steps using a few common tools usually in the possession of any homeowner, your old, in some cases ugly, in most cases plain, dining set can be given a fresh new look. If you can use a screwdriver or screw gun, drive a nail, and finally use a paint brush of can of spray paint, you can doe this project for less than $50 and in as little a 2 days.

With a little time and effort your plain set can be given a totally new look!

Make the set that looks like the photo at the top look like the set in the photo below in just a few easy steps

Here is what you will need to accomplish this conversion:

1. A flat head and Phillips screwdriver or a battery powered screw gun with those attachements

2. A hammer

3. A small package of #8 finish nails

4. Five to seven 1x6x6 boards, depending on the width of you table. As a much less expensive alternative, dog eared fencing planks can be used that are 5.5 inches wide, 72 inches long, and can be purchased at any Home Depot for around $2 each, again you will need as many as seven planks.

5. Two cans of Rustoleum spray primer

6. Two cans of Rustoleum satin finish spray paint in the color of your choice.

7. One small can of Minwax stain in the shade of your choice

8. One small can of polyurethane varnish

9. One small paint brush

Assuming that you already own a hammer and screwdrivers, your total cost should be well under $50 and the materials you need can be purchased at any Lowe's or Home Depot retailer!

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Here's what you do!

You will begin the process by removing the existing table top. It will be attached the the base and legs of the table with from eight to twelve screws, usually Phillips head and either 1 and 1/2 or 2 inches in length. A screw gun will make the process easier but it can be done with a hand held driver. Lay the table top down on the floor and back out the screws one by one. Place them in a plastic cup or coffee can for safe keeping so they done roll around on the floor and go astray. Believe me, you don't want to step on one of those is your bare feet wandering around at night!

Once the screw are removed lift one end of the table by the leg and gently tap on the top pushing it away for the base with the hammer. This nay take a minute but continue taping and the top will usually begin to fall way. If not increase the power of your taps and it will eventually come of. When the top has been removed lay it to the side and take a clean cloth and wipe down the entire base including the area around the top.

Take the base outside unless you have a workshop and using light motions left to right spray it with the primer. Be sure it is covered well and this may take a few coats. You can lay the base on end and spray 1/2, let that dry and repeat the process on the other side if it is easier for you to get to that way. While the base is drying you can also prime the chairs if you desire changing the color of those. This will require two additional cans of primer and 4 additional can of finish paint. When painting chairs, I turn them upside down and paint the bottom first. Then allowing that to dry turn them over and paint the top portion of the chair. It seems to work better that way.

While the table base and chairs are drying it is time to start on the top. You will begin by measuring the top to calculate the length of the planks you will need. In completing this process I usually calculate for three inch overhang on the sides and the ends of the table. That said, the length of your boards will need to be six inches longer that the exterior measurement of your table base length and the number of boards you will need will need to total in width 6 inches more than the width of you table base. Your retailer will cut your boards to length for you so take care to make sure your measurements are correct before going to get your boards.

Once you have measured and had the boards cut and the base of the table is dry, it will be time to finish the base and the chairs in the color you have chosen. Again, they will need to be sprayed using light. left to right motions and it may take a few coats to cover. Remember applying several light coats will give you a better job than trying to cover in one or two heavy coats which will result in runs. If you do get a run, allow that area to dry, smooth it with a light grit sandpaper and and restart the process using lighter coats.

Once the table base is dry, it is time to attach the new plank top. Most tables will have a center support already. If for some reason yours doesn't then you might want to consider adding one to give the top a little extra support. You can do this by picking up one additional board and having it cut to fit the space that measures from inside to inside the table from side to side and attaching it by nailing with the finish nails you already have. Two nail in each side about 1/2 inch form the outside of the board on each end should work well. Be sure the center support doesn't rise above the top of the table base or the new top will not fit properly.

With the center support in place and the painted base finish coated and dry (you will want to touch up the sides where you nailed in the support if necessary) It is time to apply the top. First lay your boards out as they will affix to the table to make sure there wasn't a miscalculation in you measurements. With all the boards in place, your should have a three inch overhang all around. Don't be concerned if your measurements aren't to the sixteenth of an inch on this type of redo, being off a 1/4 inch won't matter, no one will notice but you do want to be close.

Then starting in the center of the table nail on the first board driving two nails on either end and two in the middle on the brace, all nails at about 1/2 inch form the outer edges of the board. Repeat the process alternating sides until the top is covered and all boards are attached.

At this point, you have a painted table base, painted chairs, and a new plank top. All that remains is to apply the finish to the table top and you are done.

Depending on how rustic you want the table top to appear, you may want to sand the top before applying the stain. If so you can do this using a teardrop orbital sander if you have one (approx. $15) or it can be sanded by hand. I have done it both ways, the sander is definitely easier but no bigger than the area is doing it by had is not a problem. Medium grit sandpaper can be purchased at the dollar store.

One the top is sanded, apply the stain using a soft rag and circular motions until the entire area including the sides are covered. Wipe the are clean left to right after stain is applied. If you desire a darker finish you can apply multiple coats of stain but remember the varnish will also darken the finish to some extent.

Allowing the stain to dry completely. Wipe down the area with a clean cloth and it is time to apply the finish. Using you brush in left to right strokes, brush on the polyurethane. The first coat will soak in quickly, but each subsequent coat less so. I recommend a light sanding and wipe down with a clean cloth between the coats of varnish and no fewer than three coats to have a beautiful job. You can apply as many as you like, each one will make your finish a little stronger and better looking.

When the varnish is dry wipe the table (base and top) and the chairs with clean cloth and dusting spray before placing them back inside you home.

The end result will be a great new farm table look that you can enjoy for years to come at a fraction of what a new dining set would cost!

Here are a few other conversions we have done

Before, (this is a stock photo not a photo of the actual before but this is very close to what it looked like.)
Before, (this is a stock photo not a photo of the actual before but this is very close to what it looked like.)


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    • profile image


      23 months ago

      Can you just add boards to the top of table without removingthe top?

    • klw1157 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Washburn 

      5 years ago from Macon, GA

      ologsinquito, I would hold on to it. In my experience the look is a real up and comer. You may be glad you did. Thanks for reading the hub!

    • klw1157 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Washburn 

      5 years ago from Macon, GA

      Thanks creativenovella. I am glad you enjoyed the hub. It really can be a fairly easy and inexpensive way to update the look of your current table. If you are a DIY type you will be able to handle it in a breeze!

    • ologsinquito profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for writing this. I think I need to hang on to that old kitchen farm table we've had for a few years.

    • creativenovella profile image

      Naomi Novella 

      5 years ago from New York, New York

      Wow, this post was exactly what I was looking for. I've been wanting a farm table but all are too large for my apartment. Now I can make use of the table I have already. Thanks for this...I love DIY recycling projects.

    • klw1157 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Washburn 

      5 years ago from Macon, GA

      Thanks FlourishAnyway! I am glad you liked it. I fear we live in a society that is far too quick to discard something that still has life and buy something new, leaving us with a world full of refuse to be inherited by our kids and grand kids. I know it is a small thing but each time we extend the life of something instead of throwing it away. It helps a little and maybe makes another think a bit about doing the same! #upcycle #reuse #repurpose

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      This is a very useful hub. Anything that teaches us how to use what we have, save money, and put a crafty spin on things is up and more in my book. Nice job! Sharing, too.


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