Rustic Classroom Stool DIY Makeover


I moved into a room two years ago that held a lot of furniture and extremely full cabinets. I like having multiple work spaces around the room, but a lot of the furniture has either been removed or moved around. A lot. I am constantly trying new desk arrangements in my classroom, but that is for another day! This hidden gem I am going to talk about today was left behind by another teacher. It has been a trusty stool for the past two years, but I am going to be redoing much of my classroom this summer and thought that this would be a perfect (and easy) way to start.

Here is a picture of the handy stool. My kids LOVE sitting on this stool and it has been moved all over the classroom.


It is sturdy and light. I was going to bring it home and paint it white. I told my husband my plan and he said I should sand it first. Insert sour look here. This all happened on the last day of school. THE LAST DAY. I didn’t want to sand a stool. I just wanted to spend time with him in the shop and thought painting would be fun. I am SO glad I listened to him. With a little elbow grease, this stool turned into a beautiful new addition to my classroom. This is easy to do and worth the time!


This post does contain Amazon affiliate links.  Thank you for reading and supporting this blog. I only link items that I have used and love. 

– Stool (chair, table, cabinet)
Rubber gloves
Paper or plastic drop cloth
– Sand paper (120, 220, 320 grit)
Dark Walnut wood stain (I use Minwax stain)
Clear Satin finish Polyurethane (I use Minwax poly)
T-Shirt Rags (or other lint less rag)
Small paint brush (to throw away)
Medium paint brush (for paint and I love Purdy paint brushes because it was my maiden name!)
Painters Tape

Step 1: Sand the Stool

I am lucky that my husband has a shop with various woodworking tools. You don’t need to have all of those to create the same look. I used an orbital sander for the top of the stool and regular sandpaper for the legs. If you don’t have one, you can defiantly do this with regular sand paper as well. I own this Riobi sander but there is a cheaper one on Amazon as well (but I have not used this one).


Start by using 120 grit. This helps get the poly and stain off while smoothing major dents or imperfections. If the stool was painted, you can even use a striper to remove most of the paint before sanding.

After you have used the 120 grit, switch to a 220 grit to smooth the chair even more. After you have completed the stool, change to 320 grit to finish. There shouldn’t be any catches or rough spots. The stool will be smooth to the touch. I sanded the top much more than the legs.  I knew I was painting the legs so I just made sure I had a good surface to work with.

Step 2: Stain the Top

I knew I wanted the legs to be white, but I wanted to try staining the top to see how it looked. BEST. DECISION. EVER. I loved how this turned out.

To stain the wood, lay down some paper or plastic to protect the ground. Using a clean rag, dust off the stool. I taped the top of the legs to prevent any stain from accidently dripping. You are going to need the following things ready to go.


– Rubber gloves
– Two dry rags (I cut them down into smaller pieces)
– Stir stick
– Stain (We use this kind)

Open the stain and mix well. You want to make sure it doesn’t settle and separate. I always use rubber gloves because stain can take a long time to get off your hands.
Use one of the rags to start staining the top of the stool. You are going to want a good amount of stain on the stool. Make sure you use long motions that stay in line with the grain of the wood. You are going to wipe the excess stain off in a few minutes. Once the top is covered, throw the rag away.


Let the stain sit for 3-5 minutes (for best results, make sure you read the recommended time for the stain). Carefully and lightly use the second clean rag to wipe away the excess stain. DO NOT PRESS HARD. You will want to make sure you are going with the grain of the wood as well.

Step 3: Repeat Staining for Second Coat

After you have let the seat dry for about an hour, check to see if it is dry to the touch. If it is, you can repeat the process and apply a second coat. Allow this coat to sit over night or at least 6 hours before moving on.

Step 4: Apply Polyurethane

Once you have the stain to the color you want, you are going to seal with a few coats of polyurethane. I used a clear satin finish. Mix the poly well with a stir stick before applying. Using a clean brush (I suggest one that you are ok with throwing away) to apply a thin coat. Allow this coat to dry and repeat this process until you have the desired looked. Poly can take a few days to dry fully (especially if you live in Texas where the humidity is 80%+ and the temperature is 100°F).

Step 5: Paint the Legs

This part took the longest just because of the awkwardness of the rounded legs. Make sure to get a paint that is going to hold up. I like using Valspar Cabinet Enamel. Looks good and covers well. You can also use other interior white paint.

The key to a smooth finish is thin layers. I put two coats on, but I may go back and do a third later. I like to use a good brush and start at the top. Thin layers help with less drips.


Step 6: Enjoy

Once the legs have dried and the poly has set, you have a new addition to your classroom! Of course, you can stain the whole chair, paint a different color or add sparkle to the chair! I would love to see your creations on social media or in the comments!


Thank you for reading and happy painting!


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