Refinishing the Ikea Docksta table: take four

Ok guys. What the heck?!

I’m sure you’ve all heard of Ikea’s all famous Docksta table. She’s pretty suave, if truth be told, but she is not without her faults. For one, she has been known to show a scratch or two, and refinishing her is not quite as easy as one would think. Regardless, many have decided to take on the challenge and try and make things work anyway. For me, that has meant attempting to refinish her four times now. But you know what, she’s sooo worth it!

The Ikea Docksta table has been lingering in my mind for quite some time now, but I was unwilling to spend the nearly $300 it demanded knowing that it would inevitably end up scratched within weeks. But when I saw it in the “as is” section with a price tag of only $60, I did a little dance and scooped it right up.

As you can see- it was in pretty rough shape. A lot of the MDF has been gouged, so it would require a thorough sanding and patch job. I naively thought I could hammer out this project from start to finish in an a cumulative hour over the weekend. In reality it took several hours over far too many weeks.

Despite all the trouble, I kept soldiering on with the hope that one day I could end up with a dining nook that looked like one of these:

Photo: courtesy of Decor Pad

Photo: courtesy of Apartment Therapy

I love how this table just blends into the setting, allowing everything else to stand out. It’s sleek and minimal design allows it to be able to go with just about any style.

Photo: courtesy of sfgirlbybay

Photo: courtesy of decor pad

As you can see, Docksta is the little black dress of dining tables. She just goes with everything!! Which is why I wanted it to work out sooo badly. I just love switching things up, and this table would make it so easy. So, despite several failed attempts, I was determined to make this table work.

Now I want it be known that I have had more than my fair share of experience refinishing things. I have given new life to cabinets, melamine doors, furniture, fabric, plastic and even metal. Each of these experiences have worked out fairly well, if not amazingly, but the Docksta has not been the same.

Despite doing everything right, something would always go wrong. It would bubble, peel, or crinkle during the painting stage, and for absolutely no apparent reason. Or the paint wouldn’t cure right, and the tiniest scratch would end up gouging the entire surface. I have never seen anything like it, so I had no idea how to deal with it. I began to think the table was just cursed, and despite my intense love for the design, I just couldn’t bring myself to spend another three hours refinishing something that just wasn’t working.

So I plopped Docksta up in the back corner of my garage and decided to just take some time to cool off.

It was during another refinishing project that I realized something: perhaps the paint was reacting to something in the melamine. I had painted melamine before, but maybe this table had an added chemical that the others did not? With that in mind, I decided to sand down Docksta for the fourth time and cover any patches of melamine with a very this skim coat of drywall filler.

Previously, I had used binn primer followed by three coats of rustoleum spray chalk paint. Usually, this combination gives me a perfect factory finish – but clearly it wasn’t working with the docksta. So, rather than try it again, I decided to switch things up completely– and it worked! I’m not sure if it was the filler or the paint, but either way I am so relieved.

Here is what I did:

I sanded down the table top with 220 grit sandpaper.

Then I applied a very very thin coat of filler over any spots of exposed melamime.

Next I put two coats of BINN primer using a small cabinet and furniture roller, and sanding lightly between coats. I did it this way rather than spraying it in case the spray had something to do with the outcome.

Following the BINN, I then applied three coats of Benjamin Moore’s Advance paint, which I sprayed on using the Wagner flex spray gun.

Following the last coat, I did a final sanding with synthetic steel wool and then allowed the table to cure untouched in our basement for three long weeks.

And that’s it!

So, was it worth it? The verdict is still out. Aesthetically I absolutely adore the table, but it is a bit more wobbly than either Tom or I would prefer. If we can figure out a way to fix that, then Docksta will have been worth it all. Does anyone have any suggestions?!? 😂😬

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