How to Refinish White French Provincial Furniture

Written by lane cummings
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How to Refinish White French Provincial Furniture
French provincial furniture is a more rural version of 18th-century French design. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

French provincial style refers to a countrified version of 18th-century French design with Spanish and Italian influences, as stated by Old House Journal. Refinishing allows you to drastically transform any given piece of furniture so that it better complements or contrasts your decor scheme. For example, you can refinish white French provincial furniture to look more modern or refinish it to have a different hue or tone. You may also decide to restore it to its original French provincial style.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Rubber gloves
  • 1/4 cup TSP
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Clean coffee can
  • Paint stripper
  • Old paintbrush
  • Paint scraper
  • Steel wool
  • Sandpaper, 120-, 150- and 220-grit
  • Feather duster
  • Screwdriver
  • Oil-based primer
  • 3-inch chip brush
  • 1-inch brush
  • Oil-based paint in French white or cream
  • Glaze
  • 3-inch foam brush

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  1. 1

    Put on your rubber gloves. Mix 1/4 cup TSP with 1 gallon warm water. Dip a large sponge in the mixture and wipe down all the furniture that you plan to refinish. Rinse each piece off when done, and allow to dry completely.

  2. 2

    Pour the paint stripper into an old, clean coffee can. Fill it up halfway and replace the lid. Shake it well. Place dust sheets or sheets of newspaper underneath each piece of furniture. Apply the paint stripper to the surface of each piece of white French provincial furniture, allowing it to slightly puddle. Allow it to soak and glaze into the furniture for 18 minutes, or until you see the old finish begin to bubble.

  3. 3

    Apply another coat of paint stripper. Wait five minutes and scrape off the old finish with a paint scraper, moving it in the direction of the wood grain. Dab a piece of steel wool into the stripper solution in your coffee can and scrub each piece of furniture, making little circles, removing any lingering remnants of the old finish.

  4. 4

    Dab the steel wool in your bucket of water and TSP and wipe down each piece of furniture. Allow the furniture to dry overnight. Sand each piece of furniture with 120-grit sandpaper followed by 150-grit sandpaper and then 220-grit sandpaper. Make sure you cover the surface area thoroughly. Dust each piece of furniture completely with a feather duster.

  5. 5

    Remove all pieces of hardware such as drawer pulls with a screwdriver. Apply a single coat of oil primer with a 3-inch chip brush and a 1-inch brush for the narrower areas. Allow it to dry.

  6. 6

    Apply a coat of French white or cream-coloured oil-based paint with your chip brush. If you just want to give your furniture a more antique finish, use a tinted glaze instead of paint. Follow each stroke you make with a 3-inch foam brush, to even out your strokes and give the furniture a very professional look. Allow it to dry and apply a second coat in the same fashion.

Tips and warnings

  • When you're finished, sand areas of the furniture down to give the pieces a worn, antique look.

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