Redecorating – Refinish It!

As I posted last week in Redecorating – Paint It!, painting furniture is an easy and economical way to add pizzazz to a room. An alternative to painting is refinishing the furniture. Of course, practice makes perfect and the more pieces of furniture you refinish the seemingly easier it becomes. If you have never refinished furniture, give it a try. It is surprisingly, not difficult and the results can be beautiful. Whether it is an antique, a yard sale find or just a piece needing a face-lift, refinishing it yourself could be the solution to your problem.

I chose to refinish a dresser and two nightstands that had been in storage. They are part of a bedroom suite which belonged to my parents. The furniture itself is very good quality but the finish was worn and cracked.

While there are many chemicals on the market to dissolve and remove the finish, I have had good results with scraping the finish off. I use a stiff putty knife held perpendicular to the surface.

With even pressure, I pull ithe putty knife toward me scraping the finish off.

Even pressure is very important. Without it, ripples can be made in the wood. Normally, the ripples can be sanded out, but it is much easier if they are avoided.

Once the finish is removed, sand the surface using fine sandpaper. Fine steel wool may also be used. Once the surface is smooth, clean and dust it to remove any residual dust.

You are now ready to apply stain, if desired. I am using Early American stain by Minwax. Dipping a small rag into the stain, cover the raw wood evenly. According to the can directions, leave the stain on the desired amount of time. The longer the excess stain is left on, the more is absorbed into the wood and the darker the finished piece will be. I left the stain on about 10 minutes and then wiped off the excess. You may reapply to darken if you desire. Allow to dry for 24 hours before applying a protective finish.

I use polyurethane in a satin finish as my topcoat. It is durable and adds a richness to the appearance of the piece. The method of application is similar to staining. Using a small rag that can be thrown away, dip into the polyurethane and apply a very thin coat evenly to the surface. One coat is usually sufficient but if you desire another coat, allow it to dry 24 hours. Once dry, use a piece of steel wool and very lightly rub over the entire surface. This is to knock off any bumps that may occur due to dust or other foreign debris. Once smooth, brush off and vacuum to remove the residual steel wool. You may now reapply polyurethane as desired. Since these pieces will be in the girls’ room, I only applied one coat.

Both stain and polyurethane must be cleaned up with mineral spirits.

Related posts:

join the newsletter
Sign-up and get my 20 Must Have Superfoods eBook FREE!


  1. says

    I am looking for this type of information since long time because i want to refinishing my old furniture.Thanks for sharing such a useful information.Your post helped me to redecorate my furniture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *