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How to Refinish a Wood Nightstand

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

My original plan for nightstands in this room was to repurpose two older, white nightstands that I had from college. I was going to paint them black, add cane to the drawer fronts and move the hardware. I successfully sanded and painted the first one, but when I finished sanding the second one I discovered that the top surface had significant water damage. Ultimately the effort and cost to remove the old surface and build a new one (in addition to the cane drawers and hardware) was not going to be worth the effort.

That is when I stumbled across these nightstands from Target. They are from the Hearth and Hand with Magnolia collection (who doesn't love everything Joanna Gaines designs??) and I loved the simple design with touch of cane on the bottom. They didn't have drawers, but that was fine by me because these were going in the guest room. My only issue was that had my heart set on black to serve as a contrast against the wood wall we built. After some research I discovered Varathane Poly+Stain, which allows you to refinish a piece of furniture without having to strip or heavily sand away the previous finish.

As a side note, Casey was not a fan of this product when we used it on a different table in a lighter stain, but the black worked perfectly.



  1. Cover your work space with a tarp anytime you are working with stain or polyurethane material

  2. Lightly sand all surfaces with 220 grit sand paper. I found it much easier to use this sanding block for the hard to reach corners and rounded legs.

  3. Use a tack cloth to remove all saw dust (or a vacuum... which we frequently use)

  4. Tape around the edges of the cane on the top and bottom to make sure the stain does not seep onto the cane

  5. Apply a thin layer of Varathane Poly+Stain over the entire surface of the nightstand using either a foam brush or a natural-bristle brush. Do not apply the first coat too heavy as it will take a very long time to dry. Multiple, thin coats leave a cleaner finish compared to one thick coat

  6. Allow 24-48 hours for the first coat to dry. It should be completely dry to the touch before you apply a second coat.

  7. Apply your second coat and allow at least 48-72 hours for the night stand to dry. Once again it should be dry to the touch. If it is still "tacky" then allow more time for it to dry before placing any decor on the surface. I also advise that you place it in a room or closet by itself if you have any pets because any dog/cat hair can stick to the surface while it is drying.

  8. Remove the painters tape when everything is dry and style however you choose!

Head to our Guest Room page for more sources from this room and check out our DIY tutorial to see how we built the wood slat wall!


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