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
Pin Rate Print

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. It took a couple days but I kept wiping down the table and it got much lighter, I guess the it did got darker than I realized with the tung oil and paint thinner. I think I used way too much paint thinner and that was the problem. Yesterday I reapplied the tung oil and just a little paint thinner and it looks really good. I am happy with the look, but I will NOT do anything else to this table. It’s taken too much time and worry. If I get stains on it…too bad! It’s our everyday table in our kitchen. I do think they have a design flaw with the 72 in table which is what I purchased, when you sit on the ends of the table without the leaves (which I will only put in when we have lots of company, I don’t have room to keep them in) your knees hit the petistal. My husband is always complaining his knees hit the petistal and you can’t get up close to the table. You would think for the money it cost someone would have figured this out. There wasn’t one in that size in their store for me to try, but I’m not sure I would even think of that. Still I love the look of the table,

    1. You won’t need to touch the table again. We have had both water & milk sit on it overnight & it wiped clean. You did it! You’re done! Now you can relax & enjoy it. I’m glad you’re happy with the finish. Have a great week, Linda!

      1. Hi Julie,

        Could I ask, with your 84″ unextended, whether any adult can realistically sit at the ends of your table because their knees hit the trestle? You cannot with the 60″ and 72″ wihout extending, as Linda noted in her post. Wondering if the breadboard pieces of the table are longer on the 84″ even without the extensions. Just called RH and they couldn’t tell me ???? I realize you’ve opened the floodgates with this post – sorry to join the chorus!

        1. Yes, I often sit there because my girls don’t like to be at the head of the table. Enjoy!

  2. Hello,
    We purchased the same table and it was just delivered to our new home, if you had to start over from scratch (with the original powdery finish) would you use the Tung Oil again, the matte varnish or the Briwax they recommend using?

    We are really torn because we don’t want to alter the color!
    Thank you

    1. Thank you for your answer, because we are starting from scratch should we remove the powdery finish before applying the Tung oil? Or should we leave it as is and apply the oil over it?

      1. Yes, & I recommend that in previous comments & another reader shared how it worked for her. I *think* you can do it with or without the powdered finish. Test underneath & see what you like.

  3. I applied the tung oil and it didn’t change the color much and I am happy with the look however I just wiped the table down (after about 36 hours to dry) with a damp cloth and brown stuff keeps coming up, I have rinsed out the cloth many times and keep getting brown like dirt off the table. I’m afraid people will get their clothes stained when they eat off the table. I did use more paint thinner than you did, the directions said 1 to 1, but I did maybe 2\3 100% tung oil to 1/3 paint thinner. Mine has no sheen at all, which I like. Did you have this experience when you did your table with the brown substance? Thanks again!

    1. A little, but not much & it was only the first day or two. I’d love to see a photo! I would start using a cleaner (I’m obsessed with Mrs. Meyers) and a paper towel. I think it will dissipate in just one or two wipe downs.

    2. It’s the campaign desk–it says it’s made of acacia wood but it doesn’t mention solid or veneer…

    3. That’s probably the powder finish coming off? Interesting that so much is coming off. I wonder if that has to do with the paint thinner because the part of my table (underside) I used monocoat oil on (linseed oil) wipes clean with nothing coming off. I would love to see a pic too and hear any updates! 🙂

    4. Linda, do you mind emailing me? I have a couple questions for you! Thank you julieblanner{at}me{dot}com

    5. Linda – how long did it take for your brown residue to stop coming off? We are having the same issue a week later. Did you end up using any cleaner?

  4. Thank you! I ordered the tung oil and will give that a try next. I have a feeling I’m not going to like anything though. I don’t even like the look of it when it’s wet. It just changes the color so much for this particular finish. I have a desk from World market that is a similar color as the table is now, if World Market can get the look, I don’t understand why RH just can’t stain and poly so we don’t have to.

    1. I wish there was a way to retain the finish completely unaltered, but unfortunately it will change slightly. You can see exactly what it looks like (up close) in my most recent posts. Is your World Market piece wood or veneer?

  5. Thank you so much your quick reply. I did find 100% the tung oil and ready to start the process. One more question, did you put just one coat on the table?
    Thanks!

    1. I did – I felt like it was enough. Allow it to dry & see what you think before you apply a second. You can always apply more later, that’s the beauty of it!