Refurbishing old furniture is a great way to restore something made of high-quality materials, and you can preserve the earth from the loss of more trees. Most of the pieces made in yesteryear were done by hand, which means they are made with some of the highest quality available.
With the do-it-yourself revolution in full swing, you may want to try your hand at refurbishing old furniture. Before taking on any restoration project, you need to have a plan.
The first step is to evaluate the piece. When refurbishing old furniture, it needs to be worthy of being saved. If the peace is flimsy, not of good quality, or has seen better days, then it may not be worth the effort. You don’t want to refurbish something that is in lackluster condition. Here is the entire process of restoring old furniture to perfection.
1. Identify the Type of Wood
Now that you have determined the piece is worth saving, you need to identify what the type of wood is made from. The best pieces are made from cherry, oak, and pine. Refurbishing old furniture made from pressed wood is not always wise.
Diverse types of woods require special things during the restoration process. For instance, oak is a very hard wood. You would use a coarser grit of sandpaper on it than you would on a soft pine piece.
2. Gather Materials
Gathering the materials is essential. You want to make sure that you have all your supplies for the beginning of your project. Gather sandpaper, stain remover, scrapers, paper towels, drop cloths, and anything else you need for the project.
3. Remove Any Padding and Material
Before beginning any sanding or cleaning of the piece, you must remove any padding or material that is on it. The material is easy to replace and is often easily ruined during the restoration process. Get anything that is material like out of the way.
4. Repair Imperfections
Refurbishing old furniture requires you to remove any imperfections in the piece. Are there chew marks in the wood from an animal? You will need to find a good, quality wood filler to smooth those over. Spend a good amount of time fixing those imperfections. Anything left behind will show in the final product.
5. Begin Removing Stain or Paint
If your piece has been stained or painted, the most important thing in restoring old furniture is to remove the layers. Most people paint over good pieces because they didn’t know how to refinish them properly. You can remove the stain one of three ways. First, it is easiest to put a stripping agent on the piece and allow it to work. Be careful as these chemicals can be strong and need to be used in well-ventilated areas.
The second way to remove paint is with a scraper. Sure, it is going to take a long time, but it is effective on chipping paint. However, a scraper will not work on the stain. The last way to remove paint or stain either one is with a sander. Sandpaper can remove just about anything.
Remember the grit of the sandpaper is important. To remove a finish on oak you may want to use a 40-grit, but to remove it on pine you should use 220. The higher the number, the finer the grit of the paper.
6. Wipe Down the Piece
After the stain or paint has been removed, you need to wipe down the piece. It is imperative that there is no dust or debris of any sort on the furniture. It will get into your paint or stain and cause a mess. Once you are finished wiping it down, you need to tape off any areas that you don’t want paint or stain to touch.
7. Apply Paint or Stain
Refurbishing old furniture is fun if you know what you are doing. When it comes to staining or painting, almost everyone has their tried and true method. Paint is best put on with a sprayer. Brush strokes can ruin the look of the piece, and you can leave hairs from the brush in the finished product.
If you don’t have an automatic sprayer, then try using a spray can with an attachment. The attachments that go on the top of a can leave the finished product like it was done professionally. Remember to use short, even strokes, and do not try to cover it all in one coat. The lighter the coat, the better.
For staining, you also have a few options. There are staining clothes, brushes, and mops. You don’t stain like you paint. The object is to get very little on the piece. If you put the stain on with a paintbrush, make sure to go back over it to wipe off any excess. The stain should be nearly dry to the touch when you are done. If you put it on too thick, then the product will take days or even weeks to lose the sticky feeling.
8. Apply a Top Coat
Once you have painted or stained the peace, you want to seal your work. You have three options for sealing furniture; they are shellac, polyurethane, and lacquer. These products all cost about the same amount of money. Be forewarned, they are not all created equal. Lacquer has the longest and hardest shell that it forms on the piece, but the smell is quite overpowering. You will need to make sure to wear a respirator to use this product.
The polyurethane is the most readily available. It comes in water or oil base. The water based dries quickly and is easy to clean up. However, if you intend to put many coats on the furniture, the water based yellows. The oil based is best, but it has a toxic smell and takes longer to dry. Make sure whatever you use that you apply a few coats to ensure it is protected.
9. Add Materials and Finishing Touches
The best part about refurbishing old furniture is the final touches. If you restored a couch or chair, you could now re-upholster it. The materials always go on last. Try to choose a fabric that is durable and stain resistant. If the material is not stain resistant, then you can add a scotch guard to the top to help protect it.
In conclusion, refurbishing old furniture is a major task. You need to show off what you have done. Therefore, take some photos and upload them to your social media accounts. Who knows, you may have people that want you to restore something for them. At the very least, you will have a great conversational piece.