How to remove repair & refinish furniture veneer

Updated April 17, 2017

Furniture veneer protects wood by acting as a durable coating on the surface. Veneer is also pleasing to the eye, because it adds shine. Veneer can become damaged from being exposed to all kinds of weather if outdoors. Inside, harsh chemical cleaning solutions, spills or accidents can damage furniture veneer, making it look ugly. Veneer damage might include long peeling strips or chipped spots on furniture. You can save money by repairing veneer yourself.

Examine the furniture. Look for flaking, peeling, sections of veneer blistering or nicks in the veneer surface. Repair small nicks with wood glue, gluing veneer back into place.

Fix veneer blisters by slicing open the blister with the end of a screwdriver, inserting glue underneath, and flattening with a medium-hot iron over waxed paper, being careful not to burn the rest of the veneer surface. Hold iron in place for a few seconds, then reapply heat as needed. Seal in gouges or hairline cracks in veneer with wood sealant. Let dry. Go over sealed sections gently with 150-grit sandpaper. Remove wood dust with a clean paint brush. Check to see if there is excessive damage.

Prepare to use trisodium phosphate solution to remove large sections of veneer if excessively damaged. Open up all the windows for proper ventilation, and put on plastic gloves and a chemical fume mask. Put old newspaper or a tarp on the floor around the furniture.

Apply trisodium phosphate solution to the edges of a table or surface with a clean paintbrush. Use a sharp, flat tool such as a putty knife to pry up the old veneer, and remove it carefully in sections. Wear protective eye goggles when pulling the veneer up from the wood cork surface. Use an electric sander to smooth the core surface once the old veneer is completely removed. Brush away wood dust with a clean paintbrush. Apply contact cement to the sanded surface, and to the back of the pre-sized new veneer. Set the veneer with the cement side down onto the surface, matching it exactly in place. Once the contact cement touches it bonds instantly.

Put clamps on the edge of a table to lock the veneer in place as it fully dries. To protect the wood from pitting place a thin rag underneath the clamp. Apply a new veneer finish over the reglued veneer in the sections where the veneer is attached to the surface, to seal in the edges. Let the first coat dry, and apply a second coat.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood furniture glue
  • Screwdriver
  • Iron
  • Waxed paper
  • Wood sealant
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • Clean paintbrush
  • Trisodium phosphate solution
  • Plastic gloves
  • Chemical fume mask
  • Old newspaper or a tarp
  • Putty knife
  • Protective eye goggles
  • Electric sander
  • Contact cement
  • Veneer
  • Clamps
  • Thin rag
  • Veneer finish
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About the Author

Linda Stamberger began writing professionally in 1994, as an entertainment reporter for "Good Times Magazine." She has written online copy for The Volusia Community website and is the author of "Antiquing in Florida." Stamberger studied creative writing at Southampton College, where she won a partial writing scholarship.