Removing stains from wooden furniture is possible as a DIY job; however for a very valuable piece, whether in financial or sentimental terms, it is always best to seek professional advice.
The first stage in working out how to get rid of a stain is to determine what kind of wood your coffee table is made from, what kind of finish it has, and what created the stain in the first place. Different stains require different treatment and using the wrong method for the wrong stain may result in further damage to your furniture. For coffee table stains the most common culprit is hot drinks placed on the surface without a coaster. However grease, make up and other beverages are all possibilities.
For surfaces that get a lot of use the best way to prevent stains is to keep the surface well protected. This can be achieved by oiling the wood where appropriate using a wood polish, and also by using coasters and mats at all times.
Heat Stains On Wooden Coffee Tables
This technique works only on specific types of wooden furniture so always test an inconspicuous are first. It does not work for Shellac.
Heat marks often appear on wooden furniture as white marks on the surface. Heat marks can however be successfully removed by the following method. Wash and dry the surface thoroughly. Place a clean cotton towel (not too thick) over the surface of your coffee table. Setting your iron to full steam place it over the towel very gently, just touching the surface. Move the iron slowly around and keep removing to check what is happening; the mark should quickly start to disappear. Wipe away any water quickly so that additional marks are not created. If the mark does not start to disappear or becomes worse stop immediately as this method may not work for your table or may even make the stain worse.
An alternative method for minor marks is to apply beeswax to the stain using the yellow side of a piece of lemon peel. For more serious marks use one part bicarb, one part olive oil and paint it onto the mark. After waiting a few minutes polish off the paste and polish as normal.
Water Rings On A Shellac Finish
For tables with a Shellac finish toothpaste can remove water rings. It makes tiny holes in the wax which fill up when you wax the furniture afterwards.
Grease stains should be treated differently to other stains on wooden furniture. As soon as the stain is noticed a layer of fine salt should be applied to the stain. The salt should be left there until the grease is absorbed into the salt. It may be necessary to remove and replace the salt several times to get the desired effect.
Candle wax marks are a common problem for coffee tables. The first thing to do is to harden the wax with some ice and remove as much as you can with a soft scraper that will not cause additional damage. Always scrape along, not across, the grain of the timber. Rub the rest of the wax away with a silk cloth that is slightly dampened. If wax still remains and the coffee table is unsealed place a paper towel over the stain. Using a hairdryer heat the stain, pressing down with the paper towel. Do it for short bursts allowing the area to cool between attempts.
The most important thing to remember is that it is much easier to prevent than remove stains. On successful removal of your stain immediately wax, oil or polish your coffee table as appropriate to prevent further damage from occurring.