How to Restore Wooden Furniture

Written by linda stamberger
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How to Restore Wooden Furniture
A wooden antique bench can be restored. (wooden bench image by Lars Christensen from

Wooden furniture can become damaged over time. Paint may peel or chip, wood can become splintered and pitted. It's easy to save money by repairing wooden furniture yourself. New wooden furniture costs hundreds, even thousands of dollars. By repairing and restoring your existing wood furniture, you save money in the long run, while preserving your antique and vintage pieces.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Dust mask
  • Cotton gardening gloves
  • Old newspaper
  • Electric sander
  • 320-grit sandpaper
  • Clean paintbrushes
  • Chemical stripping agent
  • Scraping tool
  • Putty knife
  • Gel stain
  • Latex enamel paint
  • Varnish
  • 150-grit sandpaper

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  1. 1

    Put on a dust mask and white cotton gardening gloves, to protect yourself from splinters. Open all windows for proper ventilation. Put old newspaper down on the floor to protect the floor from wood dust.

  2. 2

    Sand wood furniture to rid it of old varnish, paint or pits in the wood. Use an electric sander for large pieces of furniture. Use 320-grit sandpaper to sand smaller pieces and the parts of large furniture that are too small for an electric sander to reach. Sand in the direction of the grain. Remove wood dust with a clean paintbrush.

  3. 3

    Take a clean paintbrush and paint a chemical stripping agent onto the furniture in even strokes. Wait for the stripping agent to begin oxidising. The chemical stripping agent is ready to be scraped when small bubbles form on the surface. Scrape away the stripping agent after it bubbles, using a scraping tool or putty knife.

  4. 4

    Stain wooden furniture with a water-based gel to condition and moisturise the wood, especially if the furniture is antique or porous wood, such as pine. Dip a clean paintbrush into the gel stain and apply it to the wood surface in smooth, even strokes. Let the first coat dry, then apply a second coat.

  5. 5

    If you've chosen to paint your furniture instead of staining it, use a latex enamel paint in the colour of your choice. Apply paint with a clean paintbrush. Use two coats. Let the first coat dry before applying the second coat.

  6. 6

    Varnish stained or painted wood. Varnish helps to seal and protect wood left in its natural state and helps to protect stain or paint from fading or chipping. Use a stain that is both water and insect proof. Apply one coat with a clean paintbrush and let it dry overnight. The next day, sand lightly with 150-grit sandpaper, just enough so the surface of the furniture is roughed, but the first layer of varnish remains intact. Remove dust with a paintbrush. Apply a second coat of varnish, and let it dry.

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