In this disposable age of flat-pack furniture there is an understandable tendency towards the cheaper option; low-quality laminated chipboard pieces that are easy on the wallet but never seem to last. A good piece of wooden furniture, on the other hand, can last generations if well maintained. Though initially more expensive, if you buy smart and follow these steps, you can restore lacklustre wooden furniture to its natural beauty and save money in the long run.
Before getting started, buy yourself a good stock of supplies: sandpapers of assorted grits, a sanding block, wood stain, finisher, cloths, brushes and protective equipment such as gloves, dust masks and goggles. Also remember to wear old clothes you won’t mind getting caked in dust and varnish stains.
Once you’re all set, take a damp cloth and wipe down the surfaces of your piece to remove any stains or dirt. This will help you sand more evenly and give the furniture a better finish. A resin can be used to fill any chips in the furniture, though must be left to set before proceeding. Take note of what damage there is to the furniture – surface scratches and worn finishes will require considerably less work than stains and water-marks which may penetrate deep into the wood. For heavy duty jobs, consider using a power-sander to work more efficiently.
Begin wearing down the finish of the wood with sand paper, always following the grain (lines in the wood) and using a sanding block to ensure you work the surface of the wood evenly. Sandpaper is graded by grit; a lower grit paper has larger granules and will remove more material but leave a more uneven finish. Higher grits have smaller granules and are used for more detailed sanding where less material needs to be removed. For bigger jobs where stains or water marks have penetrated the wood, you must work deeper into the wood. Using a grit that matches the job in hand, work at the wood until you achieve a smooth, uniform surface.
Finally, apply a finish to the wood using a polish, oil or wax. This will protect your furniture and give it that shiny-new look. Stains can also be applied at this stage to change the colouring in the wood. There is a huge range of choice available, from low durability but eco-friendly natural oils and waxes such as beeswax and linseed oil, to high durability exterior-use wood preservers. Take some time to select the right one for your piece. Most finishes are best applied with brushes, although oils and waxes can be applied with a cloth. Ensure the finish is distributed smoothly and evenly and allowed time to set fully before being used.
Your finished product will no doubt look incredible. Wooden furniture is subtle but eye-catching and can add a real sense warmth and class to a home. We hope that by following these steps, you can bring new life to your old furniture and restore second hand pieces to their former glory at an affordable price.