5 Simple Steps for Giving Worn-Out Furniture a Fresh Look
Have you ever wondered what to do with that old piece of furniture you have had stuck in your basement for too long? It’s usually something that has passed on from generation to generation and, in fact, it turns out to be quite difficult to get rid of it due to its endurance and perseverance in your family. Well, I’m here to tell that you don’t actually need to go to Craigslist to buy a brand new piece of furniture or even to the closest hardware store. In reality, it’s simpler, more fun, and way more fulfilling to give a whole new life to that old fifteen-century desk, left to her kids, by your grandmother.
Restoring old furniture is not a quick process but, ultimately, it’s worth the effort. All you need is some paint, sandpaper materials and a free afternoon. With the right tools and products, I’m sure you’ll make the task easier, more effortless, and extremely rewarding. So, I’ll be going through the five steps you need for giving an antique piece of furniture a brand new look, for years to come.
Most of these items have been stored for so long that they have gathered a tremendous amount of dust and rust in their surfaces and finishes. So, be sure to give it a good cleaning before you start working on that piece! But first, you’ll need to identify its materials and what was used to reach its finishing. That’s why you should begin by testing the surface, in order to purchase the right cleaning products, as you don’t want to ruin the wood.
Some quick personal tips: use an oil-based commercial wood cleaner to get through the layer of dirt, and wax the surfaces afterward. If that isn’t enough, try warm water with liquid detergent. Don’t let the wood get too wet, or else you’ll damage the surface, so dry out with a soft cleaning cloth, at the end. Also, if possible, work with these products outdoors, as they are usually mineral spirits, turpentines, or denatured alcohol which can be really dangerous for your health.
- Sand The Piece
The cleaning part is still not over! Next, you’ll have to remove its old finish, to make room for the new stain. First of all you’ll need a proper sander for furniture and then you’ll have to simply sand the surfaces of the piece with a high grit sandpaper to remove the previous paint or polyurethane, and once it’s fully gone, sand the piece with a higher grit sandpaper to remove any additional damage, and to reveal the bare wood and the base color. You can also take care of the edges and corners that look too sharp with the proper sander, because, let’s face it, details are important, and for that matter, a detail sander would be a great sidekick!
If you’re not a fan of the arduous work that manual sanding will bring, there are several types of power sanders for this process, as I’ve mentioned above. They are perfect not only for their ease of use but for their unbeatable efficiency and high-quality results, as well.
- Repair The Imperfections
Once you’ve taken care of the cleaning, and sanding, let’s jump to the finishing touches! Especially the cracks, and scratches, that can dull the surface of the wood and add a crackling effect to the furniture. The easiest way to repair a wooden piece is by the process of reamalgamation. Sounds pretty weird, right? It’s basically a process that uses a solvent applied directly to buff out the imperfections! You should always use denatured alcohol for shellac, or lacquer thinner on lacquer. Apply it to the surface using a natural bristle brush, but you’ll have to work quickly so the brush won’t dry out. Burnish the area lightly with steel wool and if you want to add that extra shine, finish the process with hard paste wax.
After the details are done it’s time to paint the piece and give it a new look! By now, the piece should have its previous paint completely removed, but give it a quick look to confirm it. If it’s still showing, try purchasing a similar based color so you don’t have any trouble if the top layer still has a bit of its old paint. Paint the entire piece and don’t forget to apply a second coat if necessary. Work from top to bottom in a single direction, and always allow the paint to dry completely after you’re done with the first layer. Lastly, do a final rinse with a clean stripper to remove the last bit of finish and paint film, and use a brass-bristle brush or a piece of steel wool to take care of carvings and corners.
Finish the process with wax so your piece can shine for a really long time and, if you want, give it a touch with a coat of stain, just to get that antique and traditional look in place.
- Protect Your Furniture With Polyurethane (Optional)
It may seem a bit ambitious and hard work, but polyurethane can be a lifesaver for old pieces of furniture! After it’s fully dry and ready to get set in place, by applying a clear finishing touch of polyurethane you’ll seal it, and save its color. In that way, your piece will always be protected from the dangers of time that may appear along the way, and you will be able to preserve that brand new vintage look for ages to come!
In a nutshell
Restoring old pieces of furniture can be a fun and productive hobby, whether you have a supporting table or a desk that needs a wake-up call. It’s a rewarding process that can restore beauty to any old dying piece. And, hey, maybe you can even sell these antiques to make some extra cash, you never know!
What you do know, is that now you have everything you need to start saving some old furniture instead of putting it in the trash. Give them a new life and a new light and you’ll be surprised by how much an old chair or table can totally change the design of a living room. Also, let’s be honest, vintage is a tremendous trend this year and you can make your own piece instead of having to empty your wallet with an expensive new one. You’ll be saving years of dedication and history that an old piece of furniture can carry. So, go get your hands dirty and celebrate your family’s memories!