So you bought the wardrobe at the garage sale. It looked useful, and you paid fairly. The problem is it still looks cheap. Think twice before getting rid of that old desk. It either goes to the landfill or to a furniture shop where they “revive” it and sell it. That profit could have been yours.
What if you could do this “reviving” in your home spending only a few dollars and some quality learning time? With some finishing, you can turn any old piece of furniture into an eye-catching piece of art and utility, and it only takes five steps!
One: Study the Wood
If it’s any good, then forget about the ugly paint or varnish. It was beautiful once and it will be again. Some popular good quality woods to pay attention to are oak, walnut, pine, maple, and birch. If disassembling is going to make the refinishing easier, take care not to force the pieces off. Be gentle and take your time.
Two: Strip Off the Old Paint and Finish
Apply the paint stripper carefully over the surface, evenly and heavily. Wear goggles and gloves, and apply hand cream to avoid itchiness. Use a rag to apply the stripper and wait an hour. Then, use a metal scraper and peel off the top layer. Do not scrape; rather just push through with the metal scraper. Place a bucket or cardboard to catch all the materials stripped from the wood.
When you scrape off the surface, you’ll find some stubborn areas that need extra effort. Use a steel wool for this and finish by rubbing dry with a rag.
Three: Sand the Surface
Once the old finish is gone and the wood is dry, lightly sand the surface. Using sanding sponge or paper and cover your eyes and nose while doing this. The tiny dust particles released from the process might cause irritation. After stripping off the top layer, you only sand it to smooth it out and clear any remaining finish.
Now, the wood is ready for staining. Use a bristle brush or foam brush applicator to apply stain. Staining gives life to the wood by way of rich color. Start with testing the color on a scrap piece of similar wood. You don’t want to go wrong with the color. Clean and dust the surface. Apply the stain smoothly and evenly and allow it to settle for 10-15 minutes. While still wet, wipe the stain off with a wet cloth. Repeat the whole process until you get the desired color tone. Leave it for at least 4 hours to dry before applying the finish.
Five: Finishing Touches
Finally, we come to the finishing. Wood finishing is essential for the protection of the wood. Without a finish, it could crack, deteriorate or swell. It also improves the overall appearance of the wood. All finishes come down to either penetrating or surface finish. Surface finishes are more durable while penetrating gives the wood a more natural look. For furniture you’ll use every day, a surface finish is going to be the best.
Always go for environment friendly, natural products. They are safer while working and after too. Rub wax into the surface with a soft cloth and leave for 15 to 30 minutes to set. Buff the surface lightly with the grain of wood. Multiple layers of this wood finish may be applied a day apart from each other. Give the finishing a day before using the furniture.
Congratulations! You’ve taken your classic piece of wood furniture and revived it to its original beauty. You can see that with some simple work and some patience, you’ll be able to breathe new life into the old furniture you have.
About the Author
By Tyler D, a blogger living in NYC that enjoys taking time to do DIY crafts to keep his small apartment looking its best.