Restoration of old furniture is a step-by-step process that isn’t necessarily complicated, even though it may be time-consuming. The six steps below from The Abbey Group will help breathe life into your fixtures and make them look stylish again.
1. Observe Safety
Old furniture restoration may involve the use of chemicals that could pose a threat to your health lest you take some precautions. To start with, ensure that you use the right tools for the job. This does not only make your work easier but also guarantees your safety and that of your family.
Put on protective gear such as rubber, goggles, and long sleeves to prevent coming into contact with chemical spills and splatters. Your workspace should also be properly ventilated, which makes working outdoors ideal as it helps you avoid inhaling harmful fumes.
2. Picking on an Old Finish
Before restoring old furniture, it is essential to identify the current wood finish. Natural finishes like varnish, shellac, and lacquer may be hard to determine using the eyes alone and may call for some experimentation.
Start by testing the surface. Apply denatured alcohol to an unnoticeable area, and if the finish comes off with the alcohol, then it is a shellac coat. A lacquer finish takes a lacquer thinner to remove, while any of these products may not remove varnish.
Restoring old furniture may be as easy as giving them a nice cleaning. The methods outlined here are suitable for cleaning wood, wicker, and rattan surfaces. Start by cutting through the dirt and wax layers on the surface of the furniture using an oil-based commercial wood cleaner.
You can step up with a warm water and detergent solution if the wood cleaner doesn’t do enough to restore the original shine of the furniture. Use a cloth to apply the mixture and ensure that the wood doesn’t get too wet. Rinse the surfaces thoroughly, and dry using a soft and clean cloth to prevent water damage to the wood.
Finishes on wood can easily become alligatored, scratched, or cracked, which gives the wood surface a dull look. The process of reamalgamation proves to be the best method to repair such a finish. Start by cleaning the surface using any of the methods mentioned above. Afterward, pick a solvent; lacquer thinner for lacquer and denatured alcohol for shellac.
Apply the solvent to the surface using a bristle brush, moving quickly to prevent the brush from drying too much. Smooth the surface lightly using steel wool, working along the grain of the wood in one direction. For extra shine, apply hard paste wax.
When refinishing is on the cards, the first step to restoring old furniture is stripping away the old finish for the application of a new one. With more paint layers, you will need a tougher stripping method, like applying a semi-paste to the surface to loosen the coating for easier stripping.
From top to bottom, apply the stripper generously in one direction, adding extra to areas that may be harder to remove. Let the stripper sit for about 20 minutes, considering the thickness of the finish. After that, you can start scraping the surface using a putty knife.
Lastly, we get to the fun part of old furniture restoration: applying a new stain coat and finish for a fresh look of your fixture. Before you start this process, make any necessary repairs to the old furniture, like filling cracks and fixing broken stool legs. Sanding the furniture using 100-120 grit sandpaper is necessary, followed by cleaning with a vacuum and tack cloth.