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How to Refinish Furniture: Choosing the Right Project

So you’ve been learning how to refinish furniture and want to put your skills to the test! Before you buy up everything at your next estate sale you need to make sure you’re selecting the right piece for your refinishing project.

Here’s a quick guide to help you select the right wood furniture to refinish.

Has the Piece Been Painted?

Beware of pieces that have been painted. They may look fine on the surface but, like an iceberg, what’s underneath might sink your project.

Paint can hide everything from burns to missing veneer. Water stains are also commonly covered with a coat of paint.

Buying pieces that only have old varnish are much safer bets. You can clearly see the condition the piece is in and make informed decisions. Old varnish is also far easier to strip than paint.

Is It Solidly Built?

Your project pieces need to be solidly built. Particleboard and laminate surfaces made their appearance in the 1950s and 60s so your best bet when refinishing furniture is to select pieces that were built before then.

Which isn’t to say your find has to be antique. In fact, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on something that was made before 1850 then you should consult an expert before you try to refinish it. Refinishing pieces that old can actually hurt their value.

Does It Need to Be Re-Glued?

Re-gluing is not for the faint-hearted. It requires knocking the piece apart, removing old glue, and then re-gluing using clamps.

If that’s not a skill you possess, then you need to make sure the piece is sturdy. Or that you factor in the cost of a professional re-gluing into your budget.

To test if a piece needs re-gluing you need to give it “the rickety test”. Try to rock the piece back and forth to see if there’s any swaying going on. Also, test any drawers the piece might have for the same thing.

How Will the Finished Product Look?

The final look of a particularly neglected piece can be difficult to judge but it’s not impossible.

To get an idea of how your finished product will look you need to find a spot on the piece where the original wood can still be seen.

If you’re dealing with a solid-wood set of drawers then the back of the drawer front is your best bet to find protected, original wood. Underneath the top surface is also a good place to look.

The goal is to get a good look at the grain of the original wood so you can better understand the color you’ll end up with.

How Complicated Will the Process Be?

It goes without saying that particularly ornate pieces will require more time and a deft hand. If you’re just starting out then you’re probably better off choosing simpler pieces to hone your skill.

Also be aware that the use of a piece can dictate how complicated it is to finish. The arms on a chair will need more attention to ensure they’re durable. Same goes for the surface of a table.

Knowing How to Refinish Furniture Is Only Step One

Being able to choose the right pieces to finish is just as important as knowing how to refinish furniture. By asking yourself the above questions when evaluating a piece you’ll ensure your project doesn’t turn into a headache.

Looking to scout estate sales for your next project? Here’s a quick guide to buying estate sale furniture.

Prestige Estate Services Sarasota/Tampa
941-893-3431 or 1-844-EST-SALE