Get a real life review of a Restoration Hardware dining table! We’ll also show you how to protect your Restoration Hardware dining table, coffee table or desk.

Learn about all the options and what we ultimately went with and love seven + years later! 

A white windowed breakfast nook with a wood dining table.

I haven’t written about our Restoration Hardware Dining Table since shortly after we received it because I allowed it to paralyze me. You can read more about our experience here.

The stress, disappointment, frustration and overwhelm was just too much. Instead, our family of 5 sat at an antique table, intended to be my kitchen desk. It was tight. Our legs didn’t even fit underneath it. We just “closed off” the sunroom and pretended that it, along with the table didn’t exist.

Restoration Hardware Dining Table

When we purchased a Restoration Hardware dining table with a natural finish we envisioned it weathering over time. A rustic farmhouse table that would only become prettier over time.

The reality was the first time we wiped the table down after dinner with a damp cloth, we removed the finish. You can imagine the horror! We quickly realized the “natural” finish is a beautiful powder that is not practical. That soft, dusty look is unachievable in a maintainable form. 

Underneath the powder the reclaimed wood table merely looked like wood purchased from your local hardware store. 

We poured over the options time and time again, and realized that the perfect Restoration Hardware table just doesn’t exist. Fortunately, there are several options to protect your Restoration Hardware Dining table. However, whatever product you use, will alter the finish.

We have purchased several pieces of Restoration Hardware’s natural finish including a dresser, chest of drawers and two dining room tables. We’ve had a lot of experience using the furniture over the last 4 years and most importantly, protecting it.

We made a lot of mistakes on our first Restoration Hardware dining table, but fortunately, you don’t have to! Today I’m sharing both how to protect and repair.

A white windowed breakfast nook with a wood dining table.

Read about How to Clean Linen Furniture from Restoration Hardware (or anywhere)!

RH Natural Finish

Restoration Hardware’s website notes on the description for the reclaimed wood table care recommendations.

“For dining tables, use of tablecloths, placemats and coasters is recommended to prevent staining.  Clear furniture wax can be applied to protect the finish from minor spills. Use coasters or placemats to help prevent marks or stains.” and to “Wipe the table clean with a soft, dry cloth after each use.”

Their site also says “Care: Wipe using a damp cloth with mild soap and water, followed by a dry cloth. Wipe spills up immediately with a dry cloth.” However, that conflicts with their detailed care instructions. I, along with many of you found that a damp cloth takes the finish right off.

Products Available to Protect Your Restoration Hardware Dining Table

A Restoration Hardware dining table with rattan chairs.

The Pros and Cons of Each Finish

Wax 

Pros:

  • Recommended by Restoration Hardware
  • Very little alteration to the table
  • Minimal sheen
  • Easy to apply

Cons:

  • Minimal protection
  • Minimally water resistant
  • Removes with solvent
  • Requires reapplication
  • Heat leaves rings

Best Use: Limited wear pieces like the Restoration Hardware Coffee Table, Side Table or Dressers 

Modern Masters Dead Flat

Pros:

  • Minimal sheen
  • Very little alteration to the table
  • Easy to apply

Cons:

  • Minimal protection (markers, etc don’t wipe off)
  • Minimally water resistant

Best Use: Limited wear pieces like the Restoration Hardware Coffee Table, Side Table or Dressers 

You can purchase Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish here.

A reader, Paula, graciously sent a photo of her table sealed with this finish. We used it on our kitchen island you can learn more about it here and the protection it provides.

restoration hardware table protected with dead flat varnish

Pure Tung Oil

Pros:

  • Waterproof
  • Marker, glue, etc wipe clean
  • No need to reapply

Cons:

  • Alters color
  • Minimal alternation to sheen with proper application (use of steel wool)
  • Slightly more difficult to apply

Best Use: High wear pieces like the Restoration Hardware Dining Table

You can purchase Pure Tung Oil here.

See below for more details and a step by step tutorial.

Polyurethane

Pros:

  • Easy to apply

Cons:

  • Even the matte finish has a sheen
  • Not waterproof
  • Doesn’t stand up to abrasion

I wish I was writing this with the perfect solution for you today, but it’s a decision each individual has to weigh. Instead, I’m sharing what we chose to do and how we’re moving forward.

How to Protect Your Restoration Hardware Dining Table

  1. If you recall, we immediately panicked. My first piece of advice is DON’T PANIC! Nothing good will come of it!
  2. If you plan to do anything with it, determine if you need to wipe the finish off first (if you’ve damaged it) or just go over the powder finish. The powder finish easily wipes off with a damp cloth. Below are pictures depicting the wood without the finish Restoration Hardware applies. Reader Lei  said she used “coffee grounds and rubbed it into the spot where it had lightened”which made the omission of powder negligible. Keep reading for more details and a step by step tutorial.Restoration Hardware dining table farmhouse table with natural finish  restoration hardware dining table natural  farmhouse table color  Wood table
  3. Use TRUE Tung Oil. There’s a difference – Tung Oil Finish is not 100% Tung Oil. I’m listing the pros and cons based on my understanding and experience:
    1. It’s not supposed to alter the color of the wood. However, the first coat must be used with a combination of paint thinner, which alters the finish. It released red tones in the wood we finished. A week later I found it less noticeable.
    2. It has a matte finish. It can have a slightly more matte appearance with A LOT of steel wool and willpower.
    3. It protects the wood from stains. It fills the pores, which seals the wood & allows it to easily wipe clean.
    4. It’s durable. After using it for a few years it has withstood oils, crayon, etc have wiped without staining.

You can see the sheen from the tung oil in the picture below:

A Restoration Hardware dining table with rattan chairs.

* The Tung Oil Finish I used on our harvest table provides a decent amount of protection, but not as wipeable as what we needed for everyday use. You can read more about the first Tung Oil Finish we used on this table here.

What Stain Color Best Matches Restoration Hardware’s Natural Finish?

If you have to stain your wood or are building your own farmhouse table, Minwax Driftwood came the closest to the natural finish of the Restoration Hardware Dining Table. It seeps into the pores of the wood, so the quicker you wipe it off to remove it, the less color that will be applied, however, it gets pretty dark in the grooves.

Here are some examples on various boards. I applied it and Chris followed behind wiping it off. These images are before the tung oil was applied.

Tips, tricks, colors & ways to protect your Restoration Hardware reclaimed wood table
Tips, tricks, colors & ways to protect your Restoration Hardware table
Tips, tricks, colors & ways to protect your Restoration Hardware table
Wood table

Redefine expectations.

In the end, it’s not perfect, but it’s functional and looks nice. If you have experienced a similar situation, know that you will make peace with it, eventually! I have learned so much from this table. One of the most important lessons is that sometimes we need to redefine our expectations.

It’s just a table.

Through all of your comments and emails, I learned that I am not alone. More importantly, I remembered that it’s just a table. Despite wasted time, money and energy, it’s still just a table.

It’s the reclaimed wood table that brought us together to help each other. If you have an experience with your table and can offer additional help to others, please leave a comment below. If this post can save someone even a few of the hours and frustration we put into our table, it’s worth it.

How to Protect a Restoration Hardware Table with Tung Oil

In July of 2015, we purchased a new Restoration Hardware dining table. We wanted to start fresh and fortunately were able to recoop most of the expense we had invested in our previous farmhouse table.

We purchased this table with intention. This time we knew the powder finish would wipe off, so we took steps to protect it prior to use.

Supplies

Pure Tung Oil

Flour Sack Towels

0000 Super Fine Steel Wool

  1. Apply Tung Oil with on with white flour sack towels. 
  2. Have a second person follow behind to remove any excess.
  3. Use steel wool to dull the finish. 
  4. Repeat.

The more muscle you put into using the steel wool the more natural your finish will be.

This method can be used with any farmhouse table or reclaimed wood table. 

Update April 2019

Nearly 5 years later I still receive a lot of questions about our Restoration Hardware dining table. The tung oil has held up incredibly well. To date, we have not reapplied and don’t see a need to do so. The finish has continued to fade over time offering a softer, more natural aesthetic. All glue, marker and even candle wax have been removed effortlessly!

A Restoration Hardware dining table with rattan chairs.

I hope this post has helped you make a decision you’re comfortable with to protect your farmhouse table. Please use comments below (rather than emailing) so that your questions and comments help others, too!

More Furnishings Inspiration

A Restoration Hardware dining table with rattan chairs.
5 from 8 votes

How to Protect a Restoration Hardware Table with Tung Oil

How to protect a Restoration Hardware Dining Table, Coffee Table or Desk with Tung Oil. This method can be used with any farmhouse table or reclaimed wood table.
Prep: 0 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour
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Ingredients  

  • Pure Tung Oil

Instructions 

  • Apply Tung Oil with white flour sack towels to the tables.
  • Have a second person follow behind to remove any excess.
  • Use steel wool to dull the finish.
  • Repeat

Tips

The more muscle you put into using the steel wool the more natural your finish will be. 

Equipment

Flour Sack Towels
Steel Wool

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467 Comments

  1. Tung oil darkened the finish, so I removed it as much as possible, and then used a white wax on the table. It looks better, but I have to refinish it frequently.

    I did make an improvement – the double end leaves made the table too large, so I re drilled the holes underneath the table and removed one of the double slabs on each leaf. Now I can add a single extension on each end, or just pull them out and add back the double leaves. Much more versatile in terms of length.

    1. Unfortunately most tung oil available in hardware store isn’t 100% pure tung oil and will darken the finish. Your leaf adaptation sounds brilliant!

    2. I am really interested in knowing how the table extensions were adjusted. I purchased this exact table in the dark brown finish and it is a little shorter than I would have liked but I live in condo with small elevator so..it is what it is..the extensions make it too long for everyday. So two questions, how can I adjust the extensions and one can I use Tung oil on the darker finish to protect from water stains?

        1. We purchased the table a few weeks ago and were initially very concerned about how we would protect the table. After a trip to a local wood working shop I got some great advise on protective finishes. I used a water based finish from General Finishes in a flat finish. I put 5 coats on top and 2/3 everywhere else. I then put two coats of wax on top. The first bush is perfect and it did not change the color of the wood at all. We are very happy with how it looks. Best of luck everyone!

        2. Hi David — would love to know exactly what you used — as we just bought a 72in round — and need a solution.

        3. Just wondering if you ever received any feedback regarding this protection option? After taking a couple of hours to read over all of your experience and the other suggestions offered, it seems to me the 100% tung oil and the Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish seem to be the 2 best options. The General Finishes flat finish is a product I discovered last week so I had been curious if there was any response to your request for a follow up picture? We are probably going to order our table in the next 2-3 weeks and I am so thankful to have found this information to help overcome my only major concern. I LOVE the Trustle Table and can not wait to get it! Would you recommend ordering the 6 x 6 sample piece of wood prior to ordering the table? It sounds like the experience found here is as good as getting the sample AND…if I want to experiment with the options I am considering, I can always use the underside of the extensions??? Thanks for your help!

    3. do you mind my asking if taking apart the extensions was a big undertaking? how did you remove one of the double slabs on each leaf? looking at how to do this too.
      thank you!

    4. How did you remove the Tung oil. I think I’ve ruined our table with the Monocoat. I read so handy good reviews and the pictures I saw looked great. It’s too dark, my wife is so upset. How do I restore this table back to what we bought?

      1. Did you ever find a way to remove the monocoat??? I have been sick over what we did to our trestle table for 2 years….

    5. Hi Cathy, I would love to adjust the double leaf extension. Please explain how you removed one of the double slabs. My 72 in is too short without the extensions and with them too long. Thought about purchasing the 84 in and using without the extensions.

  2. Are the dining chairs from RH too? If so I’ve been thinking about buying them for a while… Any complaints?

    1. Some of them are & others are antiques. I purchased the chairs at the outlet & they’re great! I’d love to add the cushions to make them slightly more comfortable, but it’s not practical for everyday dining with 3 kids!

  3. Wow. I just found this post through dwelling gawker and can’t believe it! That is my exact dream table- it’s been pinned, mood-boarded, and drooled over for years, but of course at that pricetag it’s stayed soundly on the “someday” list. I’ve often wondered if I would regret a piece that looks like it will require a lot of care and fuss. We bought a Restoration sofa years ago and I feel the same way about it- you constantly have to fluff it for it to look nice, you can’t wash the fabric, and it’s been relegated to a sad unused corner of the house. I completely adore the store (which I affectionately call “Resto”) but I think you just helped me finally let my obsession with this table go. I will live vicariously and enjoy the pictures of it on your blog instead!! Thank you for posting this!

    1. Thanks for the smile, Laura! I love our Restoration sofas, but they look sad when not fluffed. I’m still happy that our table isn’t veneer like so many others on the market, but the beautiful finish they sell is showroom-only material! Welcome to my blog…I hope you enjoy it! Happy Holidays!

  4. I love my RH table but have come to a very real acceptance that I am choosing for it to be that raw, unfinished, unperfect look. I spilled a drop of water on the table and it has left a spot. I’m ok with it, I just have to be.

    However, to prevent damage I did purchase a clear tablecloth from JoAnn fabrics (rather my Mom did for me). So for Thanksgiving I placed it on the table and covered it with a nice tablecloth and you never knew it was under there. It’s well worth getting especially if you’re having any friends or family over. We don’t have kids so on a day-to-day basis we just have either a runner or placemats decorating the table.

    I agree, if you want a table that will remain perfect for years to come, an RH table is probably not the best bet.

    1. Great idea! I worried with our family it would look like a picnic table in the end. Honestly, I could handle raw better than a powder finish & would have accepted it easier if it had been disclosed. I’m glad you love your table – it’s so beautiful!

  5. I tried the clear furniture wax, and it dried WHITE in the nooks and crannies of RH table. I got frustrated and a little disgusted by the white chunks and applied butcher block oil (Boos brand). The table is a few shades darker after the oil, but I bought it for the shape more than the light, matte finish. Thankfully, I haven’t had much in the way of spills yet, but the table doesn’t feel as dry and “thirsty” as it did before.

    1. That’s great information, Catherine! Yes, the nooks & crannies of the table are beautiful, but fill easily! We worked hard to try to keep the tung oil out of them so that they didn’t fill, but were not 100% successful. I love Boos butcher block oil – great idea!

      1. Hi!
        What about for outdoor tables? Can I still use a tung oil to seal it? What finish would you recommend for an outdoor dining table but still keep the dull rustic look ? And would not alter the color.

        Thanks!

    2. CJ– what did you use to remove the wax? I’m regretting applying it since it leaves white marks whenever water gets on it.

      1. I’m wondering how your black table is holding up? I recently purchased the RH 72” round Aero table, black (oak) finish. It’s not distressed, it’s almost like a painted finish. It scratches (I hear there’s a repair kit), and gets dirty in the texture creases. I’m thinking to buy a piece of 1/4” glass to put on it. But that is expensive and I don’t want to cause any new problems! Would love to hear if anyone has tried this.

    3. Hello there,
      I have a RH reclaimed wood table, in raw untreated wood. Right now I have it covered by a plastic, double sided tapped to the bottom. So it looks ok, I guess! ( I hope lol ). The table is safe, I just feel like I am not making the best use of this beautiful table! But I’m almost scared to touch the darn thing! Lol
      I also have a 5 year old boy that is not allowed anywhere near the table… 🙁
      Help!!!!!