DIY Checkerboard Table Using Stain


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December 17, 2019
Zoe Hunt




1 Day



DIY checkboard table with checkers

When we were building our round high-top table for the game room, we ran into a slight issue. The wood stained terribly. We don’t know what went wrong, but it was not a good look.

We could either sand it down and try again or we could cover it up with a darker stain. As we were brainstorming options, we had the idea to create a checkerboard table top–it would cover up the blotchiness and would add one more fun element to our game room!

P.S. if you want to see our full game room, you can find our game room reveal here

Want to DIY buy don\'t know where to start? Click here to grab your free guide!

Alright, let’s start DIYing!


  • Utility knife
  • Wide painters tape
  • Square ruler

What You’ll Need

  • Stain (the light color is a combination of Weathered Oak and Special Walnut while the dark color is Dark Walnut)

How to Make a Checkerboard Table

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DIY checkerboard table using stain

Step 1: Decide where you’re putting your checkerboard

Make your table or tray or whatever you want to put a checkerboard on. If you like our high-top table, you can find the tutorial here. Before beginning the checkerboard pattern, make sure to sand down using 220 grit.

Step 2: stain with the lighter color

Stain your table using the lighter color. Let the stain dry for at least an hour or two.

step 3: make your checkerboard pattern

Mark the middle of the table with chalk, a pencil, or a laser level and place the edge of a piece of tape along the line.

tape middle of wood

Now we will add three more lines to one side of the tape, then four more lines to the other side of the tape. These lines will comprise of normal tape and spacing guides. Once you remove the spacing guides, you will have a total of 4 tape lines on the table. To ensure we have even spacing, we will use a piece of tape of a spacing guide. Place the spacing guide tape right next to the first piece of tape. Then place another piece of tape right next to the spacing guide tape. Remove the spacing guide tape.

create your checkerboard pattern using tape and a spacing guide

 It’s time to move onto the other direction. Find the center point and then grab your square ruler and place it along the first piece of tape you placed. The perpendicular part of the ruler should be lined up with the center point that you found.

Place a piece of tape right below the ruler, making sure to follow the angle of the ruler. Then repeat in this new direction.

mark the center of the pattern

Step 4: cut your tape

For the two sides that end with spacing guides, leave them there to use as guides on where the edges of your checkerboard are. Cut around your square using a utility knife, making sure to remove any excess tape from the ends. Once you cut the entire outline of the square, you can remove the spacing guides from the two ends.

Note: for all of the utility knife cuts, you can press hard enough to leave a mark in the wood. This will clearly define each space and will help prevent the stain from bleeding into neighboring squares.

use a razor blade to cut the excess tape

Now cut out every square that has two overlapping pieces of tape.

Step 5: stain

Once everything is cut out and you are left with the checkerboard pattern of tape, run your finger along the edge of every piece of tape and make sure that it is fully secure to the table.

checkerboard pattern on wood table with tape

Stain your table using the darker stain color, paying special attention to the taped areas. Be gentle and try to use a minimal amount of stain. You can always go back over it if you want a darker color.

Step 6: finish touches

Once your stain dries, carefully remove the tape.

Seal your checkerboard and enjoy!

how to make a checkerboard table top
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  1. Erik says:

    I followed instructions and I think I used to much stain and it ran into the clear squares. What do you suggest to remove the dark stain from those boxes and create clean lines?

    • Zoe Hunt says:

      Unfortunately, the only way I know to remove dark stain is to sand it off. If it just bled through a little bit along the edges, you can take a small paintbrush and brush a little bit of the dark stain along the edges to make the lines straight.

  2. Amy says:

    I love the chalkboard in your picture. Can you tell me where you got it?

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