Refinishing Furniture

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself, Home repair    by: ITC

Furniture refinishing includes three basic steps:

• Removing the old finish

• Preparing the surface

• Applying the new finish

Sometimes the old furniture finish doesn’t really need to be stripped off. A good washing with TSP will get the grease off. Then roughen the surface with fine sandpaper or steel wool and coat it with varnish or clear lacquer. Do not apply lacquer over varnish, paint, or enamel. It will remove the finish just as a stripper would.

There is no way to blend a new finish with an old finish. If the furniture is badly worn, you will have to strip the finish off the entire piece. You can do this by scraping or sanding for a long time. Or you can use chemical compounds, which work much faster. Chemical strippers soften and loosen the paint quickly, and when the paint is dissolved they will begin to work on the wood and glue. For this reason, you must apply a neutralizer as soon as the last coat of paint or varnish is soft. Then rinse off both stripper and neutralizer along with the old finish.

Always handle chemical substances such as stripper with great care. Wear rubber gloves and read all instructions carefully before you begin to work.

Apply the new finish with a brush or spray can. Practice on some old wood before you begin. Apply finish evenly. Several light coats are better than one heavy one.

After the furniture is stripped to the original wood, give it time to dry. Then sand to even off the raised grain.

If you want to change the color of the wood, add wood stain. Follow up with varnish or lacquer. Instead you may want to apply paint or enamel. Refer to Units 23, 25, and 26 for more information on painting.

Chemical strippers will remove old paint, varnish or lacquer quickly. Follow instructions carefully. If the stripper needs to be neutralized be sure to do so at the proper time. Handle chemicals with care.

Scrape off loose paint with a putty knife or spray off with a garden hose. After the wood is dry, sand down the raised grain.

Sometimes you can apply a new coat of finish without stripping the piece of furniture. Clean the surface and sand it lightly so the new finish will stick. Apply a new coat of varnish or lacquer. Do not use lacquer over varnish or paint or it will act like a stripper and cause the finish below to soften and bubble up.

Apply the new finish with a brush or spray can. Practice on some old wood before you begin. Apply finish evenly. Several light coats are better than one heavy one.

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