Restoration Hardware Dining Table

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  • How to protect a Restoration Hardware Dining Table, Coffee Table or Desk. Learn about all the options and what we ultimately went with and love 4 years later! 

    reclaimed wood 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.

    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.

    farmhouse table

    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

    The Pros and Cons of Each Finish



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


    • 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


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


    • 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.

    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. 11/11/16 

    restoration hardware table protected with dead flat varnish

    Pure Tung Oil


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


    • 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.



    • Easy to apply


    • 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  reclaimed wood table up close
    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:

    restoration hardware dining table

    * 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

    Tips, tricks, colors & ways to protect your Restoration Hardware 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 a farmhouse table where I can share breakfast, lunch and dinner with my family. It’s a table I can (and have) shared laughs, wine and tears. It’s a table where I can invite friends and family to get together and share the story of those laughs, wine and tears.

    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.


    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. Below are a couple of snapshots of the final result of our reclaimed wood table protected with tung oil. 

    restoration hardware dining table natural finish protected

    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!

    breakfast nook farmhouse table made from reclaimed wood

    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!

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