How Do I Restore Painted Wood Furniture?

We get this question quite a bit from a number of different people.  With the emergence of antiquing and junk stores, many people are now looking to actually restore their own furniture.  And it makes sense to for a number of reasons:

  • You already own the furniture and will not need to purchase anything
  • No need to transport the furniture (except to the garage to refinish!)
  • You get to work on a DIY project!

The question about restoring wood furniture that is or was painted at one point and time is a lengthy one to answer, but we will try to keep it short and provide helpful links.  Here are the main things to keep in mind when restoring previously painted furniture that you own:

  • Make sure you have a sander (or multiple sanders):  This is by far the most time consuming part of restoring furniture.  In the old days, woodworkers used lots and lots of polyurethane and lacquer.  This made these pieces last for a long time, but it makes it a pain to remove later on.  Get ready to sand.  And sand.  And sand.  And make sure you wear a mask – you don’t want to be inhaling all that pesky sand dust. 
  • Once you are done sanding, make sure you wipe down the furniture piece with mineral spirits or water.  This will help clear the sawdust off of the furniture and make the wood much more accepting of the stain that you decide to use.
  • Stain it!  We love stain, and we love mixing stain and paint (not at the same time, but on the same project.  See our kitchen table post for the details – it’s one of our most popular posts).

That’s really it.  With enough patience and the right tools, anyone can restore their own wood furniture.  Whether it’s a table (simpler) or a chair (more difficult because there are more intricate spaces to sand), you can do it with some quality time spent.

Feel free to check out how we restored our end table in this post.  Hint:  we put about 4-6 hours in sanding along on this project!

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