Good quality wood furniture will stand the test of time and can last for decades, if not centuries. However, what doesn’t hold up so well might be your wood’s finish. Old wood furniture often builds up with grime and grease, and can be subject to sun stains, watermarks, bumps and scratches. Giving new life to old wood furniture is an easier DIY task than you might think. Easily restore and renew your wood furniture with these easy steps.
Fine sandpaper in 150 grit and 200+ grit
Fine steel wool
Work gloves and mask
You’ll need to apply a chemical stripper to remove the old finish from the wood along with any built-up grease and grim the wood has collected over the years. When using any chemical products, it’s important to read and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure safe and effective use. It is best to do these steps outdoors whenever possible. If the work must be done indoors, be sure there is adequate ventilation, and other near-by surfaces are well covered so they aren’t unintentionally damaged by the stripper.
Aerosol spray paint stripper is great for small projects or canned stripper can be applied with an old paintbrush. Give the surface a liberal coating of stripping and allow it to sit. Stripper can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes depending on the finish that is being removed. The stripper will begin to dissolve the old finish and create a paste of varnish and polish. If the finish isn’t removed in all places, simply respread the paste.
Using your scraper tool, remove the paste that your stripper has created. Run the scraper tool in the direction of the wood grain and clean the tool between each pass with your cotton rags. You may find that you will need to reapply the stripper and repeat the process if all of the finish hasn’t been removed.
You will need to remove and neutralize any stripper that remains on the surface of the wood. If not, the stripper may continue to work and interfere when you apply your new finish. Use your fine steel wool to apply your mineral spirits or a wax and polish remover. Be sure to wipe in the direction of the wood grain.
Let your piece dry for 24 hours after stripping. Using your 150-grit sandpaper, sand your project to remove any residual finish until your surface is uniform. Then you will sand the entire piece using your 200+ grit sandpaper to smooth any wood grain that was raised during the stripping process. You want your wood to feel smooth all over. Again, make sure you are working with, not against, the wood grain.
Remove any sanding residue by wiping the surface with your tack cloth. You will also want to clean your work area of sanding dust and debris. This avoids any dust making contact with your project while you’re finishing, which could potentially ruin your new finish.
Work in a well-lit area so you can be sure you are achieving an even finish as you apply your stain. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions while working in long even strokes in the direction of your wood grain. Use your clean cotton rags to remove the access stain. Once your stain has had time to dry, you may find you want to apply another coat. You can repeat the staining process as many times as needed until you’ve achieved your desired color.
If you want to leave the wood in its natural color, without applying a stain, but find that your piece has discoloration in spots due to sun or other damage, you might want to use a wood dye. Wood dyes come in an assortment of wood types and can be applied to just the affected area to even the color.
Once you’ve achieved your desired color through stain or dye and your piece has had time to dry, you’ll want to apply an oil-based clear coat to provide additional shine and protection. Apply according to the manufacturer’s label. If applying several layers, you will need to gently sand between each layer and be sure to remove any dust and debris from sanding before applying the next coat.
Let your newly revived wood piece dry and cure for 24 hours in a warm dry area before using. To keep it looking like new, avoid placing wood furniture near radiators or fireplaces or where it will get extended periods of direct sunlight.