Renovating furniture is no easy task, and it leaves very little room for mistakes. Even if you already know the main process behind it, it’s good to have a little refresher on how to make the finer details work, and a few tips to keep everything running smoothly. This is such a guide!
Whether you’re following an online guide or going by memory, you will want to keep these furniture refinishing techniques close at hand.
It doesn’t matter how big or small your restoration project is. This is a task that requires the use of chemicals and specialized tools that, if not properly handled, can make things a little dangerous. Before you start, make sure that you are wearing the right gear, like rubber gloves, long sleeves, a carpenter’s apron, and protective eyewear. Work in a well-ventilated area or outside to avoid noxious vapors. Keep your oily rags away from open flames, and generally avoid any substances from touching your skin.
1. Know the difference
When it comes to restoring old furniture, there are three different kinds of job you can do: Rejuvenation, Repairing, and Refinishing. While all three will make your furniture look better, each of them will treat the current finish differently. Rejuvenation will keep the finish by only cleaning and waxing the surface. Repair will take care of all dents and cracks without stripping the finish off. Finally, refinishing means using a stripping product or power sander to remove the current finish, and usually means that’s you’ll be doing the former two as well. You usually decide on which one to do after cleaning the piece, but you can find some great furniture refinishing ideas on the internet.
2. Clean your piece right
The first actual step you have to take before working on a piece is cleaning it, and some people argue that a heavy-duty cleaner is the best option for that in all cases. However, we think that such a powerful chemical should be saved for the really dirty cases and that a mixture of dish soap and water is all you need for most jobs since that’s what the pros use most of the time. To clean a flat surface, a sponge will do the trick, but if it has moldings and carvings, a regular paintbrush can help you. Rinse the piece using a clean sponge, damp with fresh water, then dry it with a towel.
3. Choose between sanding or a chemical stripper
So now it’s time to strip off the finish from your piece, but how? There are two main ways to do it. The first is sanding, which can be done using sandpaper, a sanding block or a power sander. Using this method means that you have to be careful about how coarse is the sanding tool you’re using, since you will want to start harsh but switch to a medium grit when most of the finish is off, and then to a fine grit to smooth out the final stretch until the finish is all gone.
4. Be smart about chemicals
The second way to remove the finish is by using a chemical stripper, which comes in liquid and semi-paste forms. You have only to spread the chemical over the surface with fast and even motions using a brush. After the finish starts wrinkling, remove it completely with a scraper then wipe down the wood using a lacquer thinner to get rid of the residue – if the finish doesn’t wrinkle after 30 minutes, apply a second coat. This involves using harsh chemicals, so do this in a well-ventilated area (or preferably outside) with the appropriate gear and consult with your local waste disposal company beforehand to get rid of the chemical byproducts safely.
5. Work in full or natural light
Restoring a piece of furniture is a very visual effort, especially when it comes to staining or painting the wood. Make sure to work in a space that’s fully lit, especially with natural daylight, since that will let you know how well you’re doing, or to catch drips and empty spots easily. It also helps you get a better idea of how the final product is going to look and to change your approach if you’re not satisfied with it.
6. Be clean and organized
Sloppiness is the enemy of hard work and good results. Keep your workspace clean throughout the whole process and don’t let a mess build around you. You will be able to move about the area without tripping or knocking something over—preventing accidents—and dust particles won’t get trapped in the wood’s surface under the sealant or finishing coats, ruining your work.
Now your piece is ready to make your room look beautiful and stylish! Afterward, it’s time to get some rest because this whole furniture renovation business is pretty labor-intensive and time-consuming. And don’t let all your other chores discourage you, so let someone else handle them!