These tables were twenty years old, scratched and much darker than I wanted. Being solid wood, I was able to sand the tops. In the end, I’d like to see the wood grain.
Homemade chalk paint worked easily on the lower parts. I always wash with trisodium phosphate to remove dirt and grease, rinse well and let dry before painting. Here is a recipe from Lowes. Basically, mix 1/3 cup of Plaster of Paris and 1/3 cup of cool water; stir until completely smooth. Mix that with 1 cup of latex paint and stir thoroughly. This will make enough chalk-finish paint for one coat on a six-drawer dresser.
Once that was done, I watered down some of the chalk paint until it was as thin as milk. I used this thin was as a stain for the top. Depending on how thin your stain is determines how many coats you want. Just keep adding layers of stain if you want more color or create a thicker stain.
After drying for a couple days, I rubbed and buffed 3-4 coats of Minwax Paste Finishing Wax. One might think that an acrylic polyurethane would work well, but it didn’t for me. Although all instructions and research indicated it was safe, the surface of my dining room table had to be refinished because the acrylic polyurethane made the chalk paint bubble and peel off! After that, I never used anything but wax. Rub the wax on generously and leave for ten minutes. Buff. Repeat 2-3 more times.