How to Restore Oak Wood

Written by g.k. bayne
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How to Restore Oak Wood
Oak wood makes beautiful flooring and furniture. (Oak Wood Grain Detail Close Up image by James Phelps from

Maybe you've picked up an old oak piece of furniture that needs to be revitalised, or you need to restore an oak floor to its former splendour. Whatever the reason, restoring oak wood is a task that takes time and care. The effort, however, will give you years of enjoyment and beauty.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Sander
  • Sand paper, 100, 200, 400 grit
  • Block of wood
  • Mineral spirits
  • Clean, soft rags
  • Paint brushes
  • Oil or stain of your choice
  • Polyurethane (optional)

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  1. 1

    Load an electric sander with 100-grit sandpaper, following manufacturer's instructions. If you're restoring an oak floor, you can rent a floor sander from an equipment rental store. For furniture and smaller pieces, use an electric hand sander.

  2. 2

    Run the sander over the entire surface of the floor or furniture piece. Use a sheet of sandpaper wrapped around a block of wood to sand in corners or other hard to reach areas. Wipe the area with mineral spirits to remove any sawdust created by the sanding.

  3. 3

    Re-load the sander with the 200-grit sandpaper. Sand the object until no trace of the old finish remains on the piece. Wipe with mineral spirits and repeat the process with the 400-grit and sand until the entire surface is smooth.

  4. 4

    Wipe the surface with oil or brush on the stain of your choice. Allow the surface to dry and reapply additional coats until the oak wood is the desired colour.

  5. 5

    Apply a further level of oil or stain to protect the wood (optional). Apply polyurethane to all surfaces using a paintbrush until the entire surface is sealed.

Tips and warnings

  • Refinishing oak wood is a labour of love. It will not be complete in an afternoon or a single day. Plan to commit at least a weekend to the project.
  • Some oils to consider when refinishing are linseed and Tung. Mix equal amounts of either with mineral spirits to apply the oil. Allow each coat to dry before applying the next coat.

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