Use regular dish soap, hot water and a scrub brush to clean away any buildup of dirt or furniture polish. If your tabletop has a removable leaf, separate all the pieces and clean in between. Allow everything to dry fully before starting the next step.
Because your table is going to be used for eating, use a water-based paint that is non-toxic once it dries. Latex in an eggshell or semigloss finish is a good choice, because both are easy to wipe clean with soap and water and, once dry, are safe to eat on. Chalkboard paint, applied to just the top surface, is a fun and whimsical idea for families with young children.
Using an electric palm sander and heavy grit sandpaper, sand the entire table, including any parts you plan to paint. You will probably have to sand nooks and crannies by hand. Wipe away all remaining sawdust, then apply a coat of water-based primer. Don't skip this step; doing so will affect the durability of your finished product.
Once your primer coat is completely dry, use a small foam roller to apply an even coat of paint over the entire table. Don't forget about any removable table leafs that might be in storage. Use a small brush to paint the areas that the roller won't reach. Allow your first coat of paint to dry completely, and then apply at least one additional coat. Depending on the thickness of your paint, a third coat may be necessary. If you are going to paint the top using chalkboard paint, follow the application directions on the can; these vary by manufacturer. Allow your table to dry completely, at least overnight, before using.
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