How to repair wood furniture with water damage

Written by kayar sprang
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How to repair wood furniture with water damage
(back of seat image by Leonid Nyshko from

Whether it's a water ring on wood furniture, or a piece of furniture that has come apart due to flooding, you don't have to throw it out. Instead, fix the problem yourself. All it takes is some time, a few basic materials and these easy-to-follow instructions.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Lemon or orange oil
  • Soft, clean cloth
  • Thick hand towel
  • Clothes iron
  • Mayonnaise
  • White toothpaste
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Wood glue
  • Carpenters clamps

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  1. 1

    Rub lemon or orange oil onto the white water ring using a cloth. Allow the oil to set overnight. Turn the cloth over and wipe off the oil. Repeat the process if necessary to remove the water ring.

  2. 2

    Place a thick hand towel over the water ring on the wood furniture. Place a warm iron on top of the towel over the affected area. Move the iron around on the water ring for several seconds. Then, lift the towel to see if the water ring has disappeared. Repeat the process until the damage has vanished.

  3. 3

    Repair wood furniture with a white water ring by dabbing a spoonful of mayonnaise on it. Use a circular motion and a clean, soft cloth to rub the mayonnaise into the affected area. Repeat, if necessary, until the water ring is gone. Then, turn the cloth over and wipe gently to remove the excess mayo.

  4. 4

    Rub white toothpaste---not the gel kind---onto a water ring on wood. With a soft, clean cloth and a circular motion, rub the affected area until the ring disappears. Turn the cloth over and wipe off the excess toothpaste.

  1. 1

    After the wood furniture has dried, remove everything you can from it, including the drawers, doors, handles and legs. Don't pull on stuck, water-swollen drawers with a lot of force, or you can tear off the veneer.

  2. 2

    Put the furniture out in a warm, dry area and allow it to air dry. This may take a day, or several days, depending on how much water the wood has absorbed.

  3. 3

    Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any mud and dirt that's on the furniture. Then, wipe it clean with a damp cloth.

  4. 4

    Take apart the loose wood joints that have been damaged by water. Remove loose pieces such as legs from the wood furniture.

  5. 5

    Re-glue the wood joints. Clamp them together to hold them firmly in place, if possible. Glue the loose pieces back on the main piece.

  6. 6

    Glue veneer that has come loose from water damage. Press it back down in place and wipe away any excess glue; clamp it. If the veneer is on a horizontal surface, place a heavy item such as a book on it to weight it down.

Tips and warnings

  • Never set wood furniture with water damage out in the direct sunlight to dry. The harsh heat can cause it to warp.

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