How to Restore Wood Furniture

How to Restore Wood Furniture

Do you know how to restore wood furniture? A couple of coats of paint is one of the simplest ways to restore a dull or damaged piece of wood furniture. In most cases, the old finish does not have to be removed and the tools and materials needed are relatively inexpensive. Experts usually recommend an acrylic-latex or water-based enamel, either semi-gloss or gloss, for the finish coats.

Enamel is simply a tough grade of paint that gives a durable, easy-to-clean finish. It is available in many colors at most home centres, paint stores and hardware stores. Some finishers say oil-based (alkyd) enamels give the toughest finish to wood furniture, but many prefer latex. Latex finishes have less odor than solvent-based finishes, so the finishing can be comfortably done indoors as long as the room is well ventilated.

Latex finishes also dry quickly, and tools can be cleaned with soap and water instead of strong solvents. If the wood has a finish such as paint or varnish, priming the entire surface is often not necessary as long as the old finish is thoroughly cleaned and deglossed.

However, primer should be used over any bare wood or areas that are restored with wood putty. Carefully read the label of the finish enamel for directions about priming and the type of primer to use. To apply latex enamel and other water-based finishes, use brushes with synthetic (nylon or polyester) bristles. The bristles should taper at the tip of the brush.

A 2 inch-wide brush works well on most wood furniture, but it is a good idea to also keep a 1 inch-wide brush on hand to reach into any tight areas. Good work light is one of the most-important prerequisites for an attractive restoration and finish, since it helps the finisher spot areas where the paint is streaked, too thin or too thick. Daylight is best, but strong artificial light can be used if necessary.

Protect the floor of the work area by spreading plastic sheets or mats of newspapers. Clear the area of other furniture so the work piece can be reached from all sides. Remove hardware, such as door pulls and hinges. Doors and drawers should be removed for separate handling. Clean all surfaces that are to be refinished with a household cleaner.

If any part of the surface was waxed, such as a table top, wipe it with a cloth moistened with mineral spirits (paint thinner). Mineral spirits is flammable and has a strong odor, so this part of the cleaning should be done outdoors. If used indoors, make sure the area is thoroughly ventilated and there are no fire hazards.

Check the surface for cracks and holes that need repair. Fill these with wood putty, let the putty cure, and sand repaired areas smooth with 100-grit sandpaper. If there are any loose joints, scrape out old glue, spread fresh woodworking glue on the surfaces, and clamp the loose parts until the glue cures.

The entire surface should then be sanded to eliminate rough spots and gloss in the previous finish. Use a sanding block or powered finishing sander when sanding flat surfaces such as table tops. Light sanding is usually adequate. Vacuum all dust from the surface or wipe with a sticky tack cloth, sold at paint stores. Spot prime any patched areas or bare wood.

Wood Furniture Restoration Procedure

Study the piece to determine the best painting procedure. Many finishers prefer to do the least conspicuous areas first, to gain a feel for the paint and brush. When painting vertical surfaces such as table legs or cabinet sides, keep watch for paint drips and thick spots. Drips are also common at the edges of horizontal surfaces. Smooth uneven paint with light strokes of the brush tip.

When restoring wood furniture, you must keep in mind that doors should be placed in a horizontal position for painting. Support them with scrap strips of wood. Paint one side of a door, let the paint dry, then turn the door over and paint the other side. Two coats of enamel are generally needed for full, smooth coverage of the old finish. Many latex enamels can be recoated after the previous coat dries for about four hours, but the label should be checked for drying times.

Before applying a new coat to wood furniture, sand the previous coat lightly and remove dust with a vacuum or tack cloth. The final coat of enamel should be allowed to dry at least 24 hours before the refinished piece is used.