There are multiple reasons to refurbish or restore old furniture. New pieces can cost a pretty penny. Using an older item keeps it from adding to the landfill. And the sense of accomplishment that comes from bringing lovely old furniture back to life makes the piece that much more valuable to you. Keep the following tips and examples in mind when tackling such a project.
Make Sure the Piece Is Worth the Work
Furniture pieces that are simply dated or in need of refinishing are excellent candidates for refurbishment or restoration. Old, rickety ones? Not so much. Unless you plan to add repairs to the to-do list, make sure there are no broken pieces or wood rot. Open and close all drawers and doors, and inspect all surfaces for damage. A beautifully refinished piece that falls apart with use will not be worth the time, energy and expense you put into it. Once you determine that the piece is solid, start thinking about prep.
Prep for Best Results
You know how important prep is when it comes to painting the interior or exterior of your home. It proves doubly important for furniture. Think about all of the wear and tear furniture takes as well as the oils and other liquids with which it comes into contact. If you don’t prep properly, the new finish won’t last as long as you would like.
Start by removing any existing paint or finish with a chemical stripper. Per usual with products of this kind, follow all directions to the letter to avoid damaging the furniture or harming yourself. Put down tarps to protect your floor, make sure you have proper ventilation, and wear gloves and a mask. Once you let the stripper sit for the recommended amount of time, remove the paint or finish with a putty knife, working on stubborn sports with steel wool. Finish stripping by following the instructions to the end, which may include removing the product from the piece.
Once the furniture has fully dried, which typically takes 24 hours, sand the piece with the grain to smooth out rough patches. You can sand either by hand with sandpaper or by using a liquid sander. The latter saves you serious time if the piece has intricate detail. Sanding by hand could also damage some of that detail you love so much.
Choosing a Stain or Paint
What you use to change or restore the appearance of the piece depends on personal preference as much as anything else. Take a look at this refurbishment project on Flickr. The person took an armoire with lovely lines and detail and gave it new life with a grayish paint. The new knobs and finish give the antique a more modern appearance and feel without detracting from the detail that makes the piece so special in the first place.
When deciding on a new look for your old furniture, look at paint options from the likes of Sherwin-Williams, Behr and Benjamin Moore. All offer high-quality paints, stains and sealers that work for furniture. You can make the item a statement piece by choosing a bold color or pick up an accent color from other decor in the room. No matter your choice, it will be yours and not that of a nameless furniture designer somewhere.
If you need help choosing colors, or if you have the desire but not the time to refurbish or restore an old piece of furniture, your professional painter may be able to provide such services. He or she can apply the same method of proper prep and execution that worked for your home to the pieces that go inside it.