Furniture restoration

repainted furniture

Whether you have an old piece of furniture that you want to refresh or you found vintage piece of furniture on your attic, it is always a special pleasure when you see a new life in old furniture piece. Everybody can repaint an old piece of furniture but if you don’t follow some basic rules that “new” look will last only a few months or even less. Proper repainting and restoring furniture is a process in which you can not skip steps because otherwise the finished work will not last. Restoring old furniture, because of the quality of the build and wood, is very popular but we must warn you to closely inspect it before deciding whether to restore it or not. Old pieces of furniture are usually made from good quality dry wood and wood rot normally isn’t the issue here but if it has been exposed to moisture for a long period of time than every wood will rot. Wood rots in corners and joints first so we advise you to inspect them first. If surfaces covered with rot are small and if the wood doesn’t crumble when you squeeze with your hand than that can be repaired with Wood Filler. Bigger problem on old furniture are woodworms and if your piece have little holes on the surface than it has woodworms. Some people say that the holes from woodworms give those furniture a certain patina but we recommend dealing with living woodworms before your furniture begins to fall apart. Woodworms are drilling holes and tunnels in the wood wearing its structure and every piece of wood will most certainly brake, it is only a matter of time. There are many products on the market for woodworm treatment and after you are certain that there are no more worms in your furniture you can start with the restoration.

woodworms

First and most important thing in furniture restoration is preparing the wood. If you want your restored piece to last proper preparation is crucial. First remove drawers, disassemble the doors, remove the glass parts etc. After that use the sponge, some water and little detergent and clean the furniture until is completely free of any dirt. After that you have to remove all of the old paint until the bare wood. You can use sharp Stiff Putty Knife but we recommend  Sandpaper with the lowest grit you can find. The best and most efficient method is to use a Orbit Sander, it will save you hours of manual labor and the result will be much better. You can use chemicals for removing old paint but we don’t recommend it because it is very toxic and because it can damage the wood and the look of your new paint.

removing paint

Make sure that you removed all layers of old paint from every corner and surface before you start with the next step. Before you can continue with your restoration you must made a decision whether you want your piece to look like new after restoration or you want your piece to have “character”. The difference is in repairing scratches, holes and dents. Some people want to keep them and just apply new paint but if you want to completely restore your furniture to look like when it was new, you have to repair all the damages before painting. Use Flex Putty Knife to apply Wood Filler on all holes, scratches and dents. You must fill the dent completely and the filler must stick from the surface a little and then level it with the surface using the putty knife. After all holes and dents are fixed leave the wood filler to dry for at least two hours. When the putty is completely dry it is time for some more sanding. Use high grit sandpaper and with circular movements even the texture of the putty with the texture of wood. If you want an easier and quicker solution to a whole lot of sanding than it is best to use an Orbit Sander again. Always remove all the dust from sanding, first vacuum the whole area and then wipe all surfaces first with damp and then with dry cloth. You can see how to apply wood filler and how to sand it in the video below.





The next step is very important and it defines how long your furniture restoration will look good. Some people skip prime and just paint the furniture but we highly recommend primer if you want a high quality result. When choosing a primer you need to know few things first. There are usually white primers and gray primers. White primers are used for light colors and gray primers are used for dark colors. Also you have classic Primer which you apply with brush and you have Primer Spray. If it is your first time using primer then we recommend spray primer because it is much easier to apply than the classic primer. Always apply at least two coats of primer. If you use spray primer than we recommend you to apply several thin coats of primer but wait around 10 minutes after each coat. After primer is dry check the surfaces by hand if they are smooth enough. If the surfaces are not smooth enough use a high grit sandpaper and slightly sand the surface, wipe the dust and apply one more very thin coat of primer.

wood primer

After all the preparations are finished it is time for painting. This is obviously the part where you have to be extra careful if you want your finished piece to look good. First of all decide if you want to use Spray Paint or regular paint. If you haven’t used spray paint before you must know that it is much harder to fix the mistake if you are using spray. Also we advise you to practice even strokes before you start with the painting. We recommend Semi-Gloss Latex Paint which covers the surface evenly and gives a fantastic final result. Most brushes in stores are with nylon bristles but we recommend Mintcraft 150015 1.5-Inch Wood Handle Brush with natural bristles for best results.


Paint must be applied in very thin coats and with even long strokes. Paint must never leak from the sides and always be sure that you evenly distribute paint on the entire surface.  Wait around 30 minutes between each coat if you are using our suggested paint (if you are using different paint then read the manual to learn the time needed for drying) and be patient because you will need 4 or 5 coats for a perfect result. If you haven’t painted before use a piece of wood that you don’t need and practice a little. The most important thing is to dip the brush the same way every time and to distribute the paint evenly on the surface. If you are not sure that you know how to apply paint check the video below to learn proper technique for painting with brushes. The video is about painting interior panel door but it is here for you to learn the proper technique for painting with paint brushes.

Don’t forget to clean your brushes immediately after painting because quality brush can last for many years if it is properly maintained.
We hope that this article inspired you to restore your furniture because furniture restoration is a great hobby and the results can be magnificent!

Special tanks to Elmers Brands and Howtopaintinfo, authors of the videos shared in the article.

Thank you for sharing, Handyman tips team!
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1 comment

  1. Marcus

    It really helped when you mentioned how you should take apart your furniture before starting to restore it. I understand that taking the time to do this can help you properly care for every part of your furniture and make it look good. Personally, I would want to consult with a professional and who has experience with this in order to get the best results.

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