Smart Tips For Refinishing Solid Wooden Furniture: With or Without Stripping

Refinishing your solid wood furniture is a popular DIY task. Along with saving money, it will give you the freedom to change the outlook of your furniture just the way you like it. Having said so, some preliminary conditions have to be followed before undertaking the task of refinishing.

Furniture tends to decay over time for various reasons like damp conditions, attack of mildew & insects. Besides, not everyone is always capable of buying new furniture. So, refinishing is the way to make your furniture usable & alive again. It does save a handsome amount of money too. Refinishing allows you to imply your artistic prowess over that piece of furniture too.

To properly refinish your wooden furniture you would need to apply some techniques. So, hop on board as we present you with some of the exclusive points on refinishing your solid wood furniture: 

Things to Consider Before Applying Refinish

Refinishing may sound easily doable but that’s not the case. You will need to know about the right tools and materials and even how to hold those tools. You need to make sure if your furniture is really worth refinishing.

  • First, make sure whether your furniture is sturdy or not. After the 1960s, most of the furniture was made without solid wood. So, in that case,  you may probably end up damaging your furniture if you refinish carelessly.
  • If it’s painted rather than varnished then there might be something defective the maker wanted to hide. In that case, it will be better to repaint than refinish.
  • If your furniture is looking old because of some stains, you should probably go for some finishing types. It’s not worth refinishing at all.

There are two ways you can refinish and we are going to go in-depth discussion with both of them:

Stripping as a Refinish

The most common way to apply refinish is stripping completely. It is an easy process that can be applied to anything. But stripping has some prerequisites too, which are:

Choose The Right Stripper

Choosing the right stripper is often challenging if you don’t know what factors should be taken care of. Almost all the finishers work perfectly to strip out the colors from anything. But it is safety & speed that you should keep in mind. Strippers are chemical compounds that may cause harm to the skin on contact.

So, choose carefully. Methylene Chloride, NMP, Safest Stripper, Furniture Refinisher, etc. are the most common ones. Check out your requirements before buying these.

Select The Right Stripping Tools

After choosing a suitable stripper, you need to make sure your tools are the perfect ones for the job. Some essential tools are abrasive pad, metal containers, Round scrappers & dental picks

Carpet Your Workbench:

Using carpets on your workbench is a good idea. It certainly helps your furniture from unwanted scratch or stain. A soft clothing carpet can be used. Also, old newspapers will work just fine.

Brush It on Thick

Some people don’t like using thick brushes but truth be told it won’t affect your finishing. Oftentimes because of the gel formed finishes, we need to paint double. Brushing thickly won’t affect the overall surface condition as you can easily strip off anytime you want.

Strip in Zones

When handling big pieces of furniture, like a dining table or a wardrobe or dresser drawer, it will be easier if you strip in zones & then scrap it. Which keeps the overall surface  even

Keep It Wet

Strippers won’t work if they get dried fast. To avoid fast-drying, cover the furniture with a drop cloth or plastic trash bags.

Keep a Box Close By

Dropping off the stripper here and there is often irritating. To avoid this nuisance keep a cardboard box closeby. Keep your knife on its edge. Wait till the stripper dries off. And then you can dump it in the dustbin.

Painting as an Alternative to Stripping

Makers paint furniture in order to hide certain faults. So, refinishing will only worsen the condition . In that case, re-painting is the best option. The possible paints that you can consider are-

Spray Paints: Mostly used for outdoor furniture.

Latex and Oil Paints: Being water-soluble, latex paints have the advantage of cleaning up quickly. Requires safety measures.

Milk Paint: To add an aesthetic appeal to your furniture, milk paint is the best option to go for. It is non-toxic & organic but costly.

Refinish Your Furniture without Stripping

If your furniture piece is costly and you don’t want to go for stripping as it is time-consuming or you may think it will make the surface uneven. Follow these tips to refinish without stripping: 

Examine The Mineral Spirits

Before applying any refinish, apply mineral spirits first. It will show you the exact appearance of your furniture with just a layer of coating. If you like it, you can simply clean the surface & put some oil-based finish. But if not, you always have the option to apply other finishes or even restore it.

Fix The White Rings

Often white marks, watermarks are seen on the surface of furniture. It can be a nightmare if it’s not dealt with properly. The easiest solution is to slather the spot with any petroleum jelly that’s available in your house.

After letting it sit overnight, the oil of the jelly will clean the marks or at least make it less visible. Then you can follow standard cleaning procedures. If it doesn’t work, try White Ring Removers from the market.

Scrape Paint Without Damaging the Finish

Who knew a simple razor-blade could turn into an artistic prowess?

Unbelievable, right? Well, actually it’s not.

A common problem we face is the paint splattering on the surface of furniture. But by using a razor-blade you can scrape off even delicate layers of paints.

To do so, you need to cover up the edges of the blade with masking tape. Bent it a little bit & hold the blade perpendicular to the surface firmly. Then tilting the blades scrape off the paint layers from the surface without even damaging it. Also, your hands will be safe from the blade.

Fill Cracks & Get Rid of Dents

It’s really annoying to find tiny holes or cracks after the final finish on the surface of the furniture. To tackle the situation, you can use colored wax with wax repair sticks.

Warm up the wax, give it the desired shape in your palms, and  with the help of a wax stick gently press that around the cracks.

To get rid of dents you need to make sharp cuts parallel to the dent.. Drip some water on the cuts. Water will eventually penetrate the surface and will result in swelling up. Thus, it will come back to the previous shape. If it doesn’t, repeat the process again. 

Renew the Luster with Wipe-On Finish

All the processes that we have talked about being alternatives to stripping will require a wipe-on finish to be completed. It is the final coating step to display your end result..

After applying any of the finishes discussed above, wipe the surface gently like you would with car wax. Then let it sit overnight.

Final thoughts

That wraps up all our pro tips for finishing your solid furniture. After going through all this information you can easily decide whether you want to go for stripping or the non-stripping method. Either way, consider the above tips to get the best refinish.

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