How To Restore Old Furniture?

Restoring antique furniture is an activity that has been practiced for a long time, even being considered an art. Today it is still quite popular and the options are practically endless, considering that possible projects can be found at events as common as flea markets, garage sales, among others.

Antique or vintage furniture has a very particular style that makes it stand out among the minimalist alternatives that are in fashion today. Therefore, it is not surprising that, even when it is furniture that was fashionable decades or even centuries ago, they have a large entourage of fans who prefer a piece of furniture decorated in an elegant way, with flourishes and relief designs than a table.

Within this context, we offer you a guide with which you can get started in restoring antique furniture. Whether you’ve inherited a dresser from your great-grandmother or found a Victorian-style closet at an antiques sale; restoring them and returning them to their original shine is not as difficult a process as you might imagine.

Steps to restore antique wooden furniture

If you have been interested in knowing how to restore an old piece of furniture to use it or prevent it from being damaged, here are the steps you should follow both to protect the antique itself and to give it a finish as if it had just come out of the store:

1. Cleaning the cabinet

The first thing you should do when starting the process to restore an antique piece of furniture is to clean it thoroughly .

For this, we advise you to use tools that are not too aggressive with the materials; such as microfiber cloths, cotton, sponges or metallic kitchen towels. These will help you remove dust and, in addition, you can wet them in water with alcohol to disinfect the surfaces of the furniture and remove dirt such as dirt, spider webs, among others.

2. Disassembling its parts

The next step will allow you to treat the furniture more thoroughly, so that the restoration allows you to enjoy it for much longer.

Begin to disassemble the furniture piece by piece by removing the screws that join the doors, as well as the drawers and removable shelves. Then, separate them into categories to be treated one by one and take advantage of cleaning the cracks that you could not access before.

3. Eliminating carcoma

During the disassembly step, we advise you to analyze the state of the furniture wood to corroborate whether or not there is the presence of woodworm.

This comes in the form of small holes . If this is not treated, the insects that produce it will continue to rot the material and eventually make the furniture unusable.

To get rid of them you will have to apply anti termite products with the help of a brush until all the woodworm holes that you can see are filled. Then wrap the pieces of furniture in plastic and let them rest for 2 days. Once the time is up, repeat the process again.

4. Solvent or sander?

Now that you have got rid of the pests in the furniture, you will have to strip the varnished wood, to be able to apply a new layer that has the intact properties to protect it.

If you wonder how to strip a piece of furniture, this has a couple of solutions, the most common being to use a solvent to remove the old varnish with a brush or to use a sander, which should be used very carefully so as not to affect the details that it has. the design of the wood.

The sander, in turn, could also turn out to be a good solution if you are wondering how to paint a melamine furniture that has an old layer of paint that is difficult to remove with solvents, since it will speed up the task and allow you to control to what extent you want work wood.

5. Applying the varnish

Before applying water-based or synthetic varnish, we recommend that you clean the wood again to remove any dust that may have occurred after using the sander or the remains of paint that were left when using the solvent brush.

This is because, if the surface is not completely clean, the varnish will mix with the particles and will create imperfections in the finish.

By having all the pieces clean and prepared, you can begin to apply a layer of the varnish of your choice, which must dry for a period of at least 24 hours. When done, use semi-soft sandpaper to roughen the faces of the furniture and apply a new coat of varnish, to let it dry again for a full day.

6. Putting wax

When the drying time is up, take the furniture polish and wet the sponge or microfiber cloth in it and then start spreading it over all the faces that will be visible when reassembling it.

For example, if you are in the process of restoring a dining table, you would only have to put wax on the upper face of the furniture, its edges and feet, since this is what it will look like when you put it in place.

7. Polishing the wood

Now it’s time to polish. This can be carried out manually or mechanically depending on the structure of the furniture. However, we advise you to use a drill with a polishing disc whenever possible to speed up the process.

Polish all the areas where you have applied wax until they are shiny and, at the end, you will only have to reassemble the furniture to install it at home and enjoy it for many more years.


As an additional tip, when recycling furniture, try to replace corroded metal parts, such as screws, bearings, knobs and handles, as they could affect both the aesthetic finish of the furniture and the durability of the restoration process.

Added to this, you cannot forget to use the appropriate protection. This includes items such as industrial gloves, safety glasses, filter masks and also an apron with which to keep your clothes clean when working.

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