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How To Restore Furniture

Rectangular brown wooden dining table and wooden chairs | How To Restore Furniture | how to refinish a table | Featured

Want to know how to restore furniture fast and easy? The guide below will teach you how to bring back your old furniture’s original beauty minus the stripping process.

RELATED: 17 Glaze Furniture Rehab Ideas | Instant Facelift For Old Furniture

How to Restore Furniture Without Stripping

Furniture Restoration Project

You don’t always have to resort to stripping for all your furniture restoration projects. It can be time-consuming and the outcome isn’t always satisfactory.

We’ll show you an easier and faster way of bringing your furniture back to its glossy glory while refraining from the use of chemical strippers. Let’s get started!

What You’ll Need to Restore Furniture:

  • mineral spirit
  • sponge
  • mild soap
  • water
  • petroleum jelly
  • wood epoxy
  • gel stain
  • wax filler sticks for wood
  • flat iron
  • razor blade
  • clean cloth

Step 1: Evaluate With Mineral Spirits

Evaluate With Mineral Spirits | How To Restore Furniture
Evaluate With Mineral Spirits Photo by Family Handyman

Prior to any potential repairs and refurbishing, it is necessary to apply mineral spirits on a small section of the furniture piece for you to determine how to proceed. Apart from cleaning machine tools, mineral spirits will help expose how the piece of furniture will appear with only a coat of wipe-on clear finish.

If the surface doesn’t look that bad, then you can plan on using an oil-based wipe-on finish. Other procedures (or maybe even professional intervention) will have to take place if the furniture doesn’t look too good after applying mineral spirits.

Step 2: Clean the Furniture

Clean the Furniture | furniture refinishing
Clean the Furniture Photo by Family Handyman

Before any furniture restoration, it’s important to thoroughly clean the piece first and remove years of dust and dirt accumulation. You can use a paintbrush to work on the moldings and more intricate details.

A simple mild soap and water solution will be just fine to wash the furniture.

Step 3: Mend White Rings

Mend White Rings | how to refinish a table
Mend White Rings Photo by Family Handyman

Petroleum jelly is an effective fix for white rings common on old coffee tables and dining sets. Just apply petroleum jelly on the white rings and leave it for 12 hours. The oil from the substance has the ability to remove the stain or help it fade.

However, white rings can be really stubborn too. If petroleum jelly doesn’t work, there are other products in the market that can be more effective in fixing white rings.

Step 4: Remove Paint Spatters

Remove Paint Spatters | how to refinish furniture
Remove Paint Spatters Photo by Family Handyman

You can scrape paint easily from the surface of furniture but you have to do it without ruining the finish. The method involves having a small space between the blade and the wood surface.

This way, the blade only scrapes off the paint spatters while maintaining a slight distance from the wood.

So how do you do it? The ends of the blade must be wrapped with masking tape, and make sure you work the blade at an angle.

The tape on each side of the blade will also prevent you from damaging the wood unintentionally with its sharp corners.

RELATED: 39 Ways To Transform Your Old Furniture

Step 5: Fix Missing Wood With Epoxy

Fix Missing Wood With Epoxy | restore a finish
Fix Missing Wood With Epoxy Photo by Family Handyman

Wood epoxy is one of the most important parts of the restoration process. Epoxy is used to fill voids, cracks, and wood defects.

It’s DIY-friendly and not as difficult as you might think to reconstruct missing wood. You can use this durable water-based paint also on walls, stairs, floors.

It’s about the same density as wood when it dries and hardens — hard to distinguish once it blends with the surface. The thing with epoxy is you have about less than 10 minutes to smear it before it begins to solidify.

Save yourself from the hassle of sanding and shaping once the epoxy hardens. Here are easy steps to follow:

  • Using your finger, shape the epoxy and smoothen it.
  • Put a little amount of water, enough to moisten and loosen it up a bit.
  • Level the surface using the edge of the blade to scrape off any excess and uneven portions

Wait for a few hours until the epoxy dries, then you can start sanding and staining the surface. Make sure to perform the sanding carefully to prevent damaging the enclosing finish.

It’s time to make the repair blend and look like the surrounding veneer. To do this, you need to apply gel stain with the right color to match the existing grain.

Step 6: Apply Gel Stain

Applying Gel Stain | How To Restore Furniture
Applying Gel Stain Photo by Family Handyman

Stripping the original finish off the furniture before staining is not always necessary. Gel stain can be used to refresh the wood of a finish that is in good condition. Here’s how to do it:

  • Before applying the gel stain, wet sand the surface with 320 grit sandpaper, but make sure not to remove the original finish.
  • After wet sanding, let it dry for a few hours before staining. Make sure you’re wearing gloves. Apply an even coat of gel stain on the surface, working with the grain of the wood.
  • Once done, wipe off all the excess stain with a clean staining pad. Wipe down the entire surface and see to it there are no streaks left.
  • Wait 24 hours for the stain to fully dry, then seal the finish with the top coat of your choice. This will make the stain more durable.

Step 7: Fix Small Furniture Cracks

Fixing Small Furniture Cracks | How To Restore Furniture
Fixing Small Furniture Cracks Photo by Family Handyman

Apparently small cracks are easier to fill. Paint stores sell colored wax fill sticks and repair sticks.

Wax sticks are semi-soft fillers that are relatively easy to use.

  • Before you start filling, make sure the damaged area is clean and trimmed.
  • Scrape any loose splinters and sand down any sharp parts sticking out higher than the wood surface. Just be careful not to scratch the area surrounding the damage.
  • To use the wax stick, you can either rub it over the damage or take a piece of it off with your finger and press it on the damaged area.
  • Remove the remaining residue with a soft clean cloth.

Step 8: Repair Dents

Repairing Dents | How To Restore Furniture
Repairing Dents Photo by Family Handyman

The cause of dents is when the wood fibers are somewhat damaged but not gone.

  • To start repairing dents, place a drop of water on the area, then allow it to penetrate for a few minutes.
  • Place a damp cloth over the area where the dent is, then press it with a hot iron.
  • As the iron turns the water to steam, the steam will bring the wood fibers back to how it used to be.

Step 9: Final Wipe-on Finish

Final Wipe-on Finish
Final Wipe-on Finish Photo by Family Handyman

Any type of wipe-on finish will be sufficient. Place some on a clean cloth then rub it on the surface in a swirling motion.

If there is extra finish on the wood, wipe it off toward following the direction of the grain. Allow it to dry overnight. Your restoration project is as good as new!

The best ways to restore wooden furniture in this video from Quest TV:

So there you have it! Furniture restoration may be a long process, but it doesn’t have to be a super tedious one. A little patience and sound judgment is definitely required, from assessing the finish to the final wipe-on process.

As long as you know what steps you need to take and how to properly execute, regaining the beauty and quality of your furniture will be a fulfilling experience.

What are your thoughts about this furniture restoration process? Share them with us in the comments section below!

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 8, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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