Our coffee table makeover starts with a base we found on garbage day. Unfortunately it’s missing the top and Hubs and I didn’t see eye to eye on how we should upcycle it. So he’s going to indulge my idea now and maybe I’ll indulge his idea one day ;).
The top comes courtesy of leftover scraps of wood flooring we kept after finishing our basement. You can read all about our engineered hardware flooring installation here if you’re curious to see where these scraps came from.
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- Coffee Table Base – ours was found on garbage day
- Scrap flooring (ours is engineered with a thin veneer of oak)
- Paint – we used PPG BreakThrough in a colour called Icicle White
- Devillbis Paint Spray Gun
- Porter Cable Air Compressor
- Paint Pyramids
- Spray nine – to clean plastic caps
- Laser tape or scrap wood trim
Coffee Table Makeover Prep
We’re going to paint, so give the wood a light scuff with sandpaper. Don’t forget to remove any hardware that can get in the way of sanding, like those plastic caps over the screws that are holding the base together!
Since you never know how paint is going to react, we always test both paint and primer on an area that won’t be seen.
Hubs lets it dry at least a day and then gives it the fingernail test to ensure it will stick. In this case, we’re going to skip primer and spray two coats of white PPG Break-Through in a colour called Icicle. It passes the scratch test with flying colours, so no need to prime.
We sand our samples off the bottom before painting.
Then make sure every spec of dust is removed.
Spraying with a paint gun is the best, and fastest way, to get a flawless finish. Start with the piece upside down, and then turn right side up after spraying underneath. That will ensure any paint drips won’t be seen on the ‘good side’.
Coffee Table Makeover – Paint Tips
Elevate the work so you don’t have to bend over to spray. Good paint posture is key to saving your back! Lay plastic over the work surface to catch paint overspray.
We use these paint pyramids to lift the legs off the table so we can spray right to the very bottom. See what else these paint pyramids can do!
Let dry thoroughy before moving onto a second coat.
Coffee Table Makeover – the Top
If you read our previous post, you’ll know that we lost our engineered wood flooring to water damage and replaced it with an innovative new luxury vinyl. But we did have some left over wood planks from the hardwood installation that we’re going to upcycle!
I’m building the top with the same glue we used to install it originally. Just squeeze it into the groove of each plank.
Hubs clamps a board onto the end of the table so he can hammer the flooring planks against it with a mallet. Watch our video below to see how that’s done. Blue tape is the tape we recommend during the glue-up. That’s because it has enough stretch that it acts as a clamp as the glue dries.
Coffee Table DIY
See how to build a top for a coffee table base using leftover engineered hardwood flooring. And subscribe to our YouTube channel while you’re at it!
Cut Top to Size
Since the flooring has a tongue protruding on one side, we cut it off to start with a smooth edge before cutting the rest down to size.
We’re using a circular saw to cut, and want the edge as smooth as possible, so we’re switching to an ultra fine blade.
Measure the width of the plate on the saw to determine where to clamp a straight edge so you’re only taking off the tongue – if you want to keep the boards their full width.
We cut the board down to 44″ wide x 26″ deep. That leaves a 1-1/2″ overhang around all the edges.
Coffee Table Makeover – Support
The glue does a great job of attaching the flooring together, but as a table top, you’ll need to add more support. So Hubs adds two rails using 1 x 3’s and countersinks holes into the wood before attaching them to the top with screws.
As you can see below, the rails are spaced to fit in between the side stretchers. This will keep the top from shifting side to side.
But to keep it from shifting along the length too, we add four corner blocks. To do that, flip the base upside down and place it onto the top. Then it’s easy to position the blocks in each corner. We move the blocks forward about `1/8″ to leave a bit of clearance. For this step, you can use a shorter screw.
The blocks are also drilled and countersunk first before screwing them into the rails.
The top is done! If you like, you can paint or seal all the raw wood with a clear coat to finish the underside. However, since Hubs is going to reimagine this again in Spring, we’re not going to bother.
Before we reassemble the top and base we clean up the plastic caps that cover the screws. We also give all the screws a tighten to ensure the base is good and solid.
The last step is to cover the raw edges of the top. The circular saw doesn’t make the most perfect cuts. We thought about taping the edge with veneer, but could see that we would have gaps. So I reached for something with flexibility instead.
To solve the dilemma, I use this laser tape.
I position it against the bottom of the wood veneer. As you can see, there’s still a 1/8″ reveal of lighter wood below the tape. I don’t mind that; it provides some definition.
Coffee Table Makeover
The finish on engineered wood flooring these days is so durable. It will easily stand up to everyday use and water spills from plants.
Here’s a better look at the before.
I think our salvage flooring makes a great coffee table top to pair with our upcycled base! What do you think? Here’s how it looks now:
But just for fun, I spelled out Merrry X-mas with these dollar store letters.
Then I grabbed a pointsettia the minute they became available. I love a pop of red! At the end of the month, you’ll see what else we do with poinsettias.
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Well done! I do not know the scratch test for testing paint. Would you be kind enough to further elucidate that wee bit? Thank you kindly if you have the time.
Of course; we love getting questions and always have time :). In a nutshell, we do the scratch test to test for adhesion. It’s especially important to do when primer and paint get old. However, we do it regardless. Also, you never know what the original finish is: laquer, polyuréthane, varnish, or oil based vs water based. With paint being so expensive, we don’t want to repaint again if the primer/paint turns out to not be durable on the surface we’re painting.
Hubs wanted to prime first but i was curious if we could save ourselves some time and just paint with Break-Through (which is my favourite furniture paint), so we tested both.
Sometimes the original finish on a piece will repel primer – even when it’s been sanded so we always do this test somewhere that won’t be seen.
We used a brush to apply our samples. Here’s the order of what’s in the picture: 1) Styx primer, followed by 2) PPG Breakthrough paint, 3) a water based primer called Insl-X Aqua Lock. The last one is a primer by Benjamin Moore called K46 – better known as Fresh Start. However, that one is tinted, in case I decided to paint a darker colour. Tinting a primer means you can use less coats of more expensive paint.
We left them all to set up for a full 24 hours. Then Hubs tries to scratch them off with his fingernail. Anything that can be scratched off is immediately eliminated. If it passes the scratch test, we know it will adhere well to the project as well as subsequent coats of paint.
Hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any further questions :).
I can’t believe how beautiful this is! It looks like you bought it from an expensive store!
That’s such high praise; thanks Michelle. I”m loving how it turned out too – so much so that Hubs may not have a chance to upcycle it to his vision. We’ll have to hope we find another base, just like it – lol
Now that was unexpected and so very appreciated!!! I get a whole lesson and no one has to feel foolish not knowing. WOW thank you for that saver. Whoowheee, say hale and hearty to you and yours.
Any time Linda! So glad it helped 🙂
Wow that turned into quite the beauty Sara! It was an mcm worth saving.
Thank you Mary! Hubs has such a drastically different idea for it, which I also love, so I’m wrangling with keeping it as is. Time will tell :).
WOW, she turned out beautifully!!! Looks very high end and fits perfectly within that space in front of your sectional!!! Love her designer legs, looks very mid-century…thanks for sharing the part about paint testing. I was not aware of this technique!!
You’re welcome Karolyn; thanks for dropping by!
Looks fantastic. Your directions are excellent and you’ve introduced me to a new product —PPG breakthrough—
which I’ll look for.
Thanks so much Susan! We swear by Break-Through and use it both indoors and out. We always apply it with a sprayer and get a professional looking finish. It’s never disappointed us.
What a great table! I love the legs
The legs are very different, aren’t they?
What a cool looking table, I love the shape. You said so posh on your video 🤣🤣
This turned out beautifully. Thanks for the tips on testing paints and primers!
Thank you and you’re welcome Kasia!
Beautiful makeover! I love the top. I’ve often wondered about using flooring planks like that. It looks great.
Thanks so much Kim! I was originally going to use pallets but it just didn’t jive with the base. I’ll use them for something else 🙂
A beautiful upcycle, Sara. Thank you for sharing at Party In Your PJ’s.
Thanks Ann! Looking forward to Saturday’s hop 🙂
How did I miss this!!!!!! I really like the fingernail scratch test.. I’ll have to remember that for next time and your coffee table is gorgeous. I’m wondering how your hubby will be able to better your idea in the Spring. She’s definitely a keeper for me.
It really is a great idea Michelle, but I’m having a hard time getting my head around tearing it apart – lol! I think it’s a keeper too 🙂