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Simple Pallet Coffee Table DIY

Simple Pallet Coffee Table DIY

Welcome to Week 3 of the Fall One Room Challenge.  I am tackling our family living room and this week the project is a coffee table DIY! You can check out the living room plan here.

The Ugly Coffee Table

I was thinking of titling this post, “How An Ugly Piece of MDF Furniture Is Saved From The Garbage Bin”.  That just about sums up the whole story, I reckon!

This is one ugly coffee table!

DIY pallet coffee table

“Jane, what on earth happened to your coffee table?  I know your kids can be mischievous but don’t tell me, they got to the coffee table?”

Well actually that was me!

I originally purchased a coffee table off Gumtree for $20 and painted the base in white.  I then painted the top with layers of blue and white, and it looked kind of beachy. 

So I thought I would strip the paint off the top and leave it wood this time.  Only… Surprise!

The top wasn’t made from wood.  It’s MDF with a thin wood veneer over the top. The legs however are pine.

When I started taking the paint off the top of the coffee table some of the wood veneer covering the MDF came off with it too.

What is MDF? Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) is an engineered wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibres.

You can’t sand MDF very well and it doesn’t look great painted!  When it gets wet, it absorbs the water and permanently swells up.

Now one very ugly coffee table was only destined for kerbside rubbish! Or was it? Could this damaged coffee table be saved?

DIY Pallet Coffee Table With Storage

I happened to come across a DIY Farmhouse style coffee table below by the Nifty Thrifty Momma. Could I do something similar with the coffee table I was about to throw out?

Pallet Wood To The Rescue

Instead of sanding back and varnishing the top or sanding and re-painting it, I realized there was a third option.

Thanks to some free pallet wood from hubby’s workplace, we could attach a new wood top to the existing coffee table.  Effectively, turn the ugly coffee table into a cute pallet coffee table.

Also check out what we did with pallet wood in our green master bedroom!

We choice to use pallet wood because we already had some and it didn’t cost us anything.  But really you could use any wood you want for this project!

This really is a simple solution to re-use furniture you already have where the top is too damaged. You could do it with a table, drawers or even a desk.

DIY pallet coffee table

Easy Pallet Coffee Table Tutorial

STEP 1. Paint the coffee table base first.  I gave mine several coats of primer and then painted it in a warm white to neaten it up.

STEP 2. Measure the wood you are using and cut it to size.  

Our pallet pieces were just short of the 125 cm or 49 inches we needed to lay them lengthwise so we decided to cut them to go across the table.

STEP 3. Your preference; sand, stain and seal your wood before screwing to the table or afterwards. 

We decided to sand and varnish our wood after.  But you could easily do it beforehand if you are concerned about getting the stain on the paint.

DIY coffee table

STEP 4.  Screw each piece of wood to the existing table top.  Use as many screws as will keep the pieces from moving at all.  We used two screws per wood plank as ours were quite short in length.

STEP 5.  Finish the top with your preferred stain and sealer or paint if you haven’t already done so. 

I decided to white wash the wood.  I used L’Essentiel Botanics White Furniture Paint thinned to the consistency of thin milk, mixed with a hint of Annie Sloan Duck Egg Blue Chalk Paint.

NOTE: Using watered down paint on wood will raise the grain and make it feel rough.  Make sure to give the wood a light sand when it is dry.

Then I sealed the top with two coats of clear Furniture Wax.  Love that stuff!

The Result

The ugly duckling becomes a swan!!

What ugly piece of furniture do you have that could be transformed instead of thrown out?

DIY pallet coffee table after

UPDATE: Almost 5 years later and we are still using this coffee table. The base has been repaired once when the legs got wobbly but the top is doing great. I wax it about twice a year and have added another coat of white wash since. It still looks great!

Also Check Out…

Angela Maciel

Friday 10th of November 2017

This is one of the most creative coffee table i've ever seen. Loved and your passion!

Jane Rao

Friday 10th of November 2017

Thanks Angela! I was amazed that this coffee table could be used again! :)


Thursday 19th of October 2017

What a beautiful makeover for the coffee table! And it looks so easy and simple :) Best, Kelly

Jane Rao

Friday 20th of October 2017

Thanks Kelly! :)

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