Helpful Tips When Restoring Antique Furniture

Antique furniture can be a priceless item that has been passed down as a family heirloom for generations. Alternatively, it can also be something that you purchased to give your living room a rustic look. The bottom line is that antique furniture is something that has to be restored and preserved. And restoring antique furniture can be pretty difficult. However, some techniques and tips can help you make your antique furniture look brand new. With the right equipment and techniques, you can restore and preserve your antique furniture with ease. Of course, there is a danger of messing things up during the restoration process, but it’s nothing a couple of online tutorials and research won’t solve. Although, an inhibition to alter priceless furniture such as an antique french chair is justified. The tips listed in this article will help you get over that very inhibition. 

Helpful Tips When Restoring Antique Furniture

To help you get started with the restoration process, here are some antique furniture restoration tips:

Prioritize Safety

Restoring antique furniture can be a hazardous task due to the nature of chemicals and tools involved in the whole process. You must research a bit beforehand about the entire process and the tools. Read the labels and the safety warnings, and proceed carefully.

Make sure that you wear protective gear such as gloves and glasses. Ensure that there is proper ventilation for the chemical fumes to escape. It is recommended that you work alone and keep your kids and pets away from the workspace. 

Set a Budget

Before you even start with the process of restoration, consider your budget. Ask yourself whether restoring a particular piece of antique furniture is worth the time and money. It might seem tempting at first to bring out your inner craftsman. However, sometimes, some pieces of furniture are just too far gone or not worth the money.

If it is not valuable or has an emotional value to you, restoring it might not be a wise decision. You can go out and buy another piece of furniture exactly like it. That will save not only your time but also money. 

Identify the Old Finish

Identifying the finish of the piece of furniture to be restored is an essential step because you don’t want to mix finishes. Mixing finishes can be disastrous for that piece of furniture, and it can ruin it. The most common types of wood finishes are shellac, varnish, and lacquer. Identifying these finishes visually can be difficult, so it’s recommended that you perform a simple test. 

If the surface peels off a piece of furniture when denatured alcohol is applied, it simply implies that it is shellac. Similarly for lacquer, applying lacquer thinner should be able to remove it. And in the case of varnish, the finish wouldn’t come off at all. Other finishes like paint, enamel, oil, wax or penetrating sealer can be identified visually. 


If you get lucky, you might only need to clean up a piece of antique furniture to restore it. All you need to do to clean a piece of antique furniture is to use an oil-based wood cleaner. You can find a lot of good options in your nearest market. It can help you with the removal of waste products. A mix of warm water and soap powder can be enough otherwise. Soak a cloth in the mixture and rub it on the surface.

Make sure that you do not drench the wood as that can lead to water damage. If that doesn’t work too, you will have to use a solvent such as denatured alcohol, mineral spirits, or turpentine. Use a rough cloth to apply the solvent on the surface, and remove it immediately after another cloth to avoid damage. 

Stripping and Refinishing

If you want to get to refinishing, you will be required to strip the old finish. For this, you will require a stripping formula. You can get liquid strippers too in the market. Apply the formula on the surface and let it sit for some time. After that, scrape it off using a putty knife. You will have to repeat this process several times to eradicate the old finish. Once you’re done, you can get to the refinishing part.

This step involves the application of a new coat of stain. Refinished furniture looks almost brand new. Fill in any cracks and fix all other issues before beginning this process. A bristle brush will come in handy to apply the new stain. Remove the extra stain with a cloth, and let it sit for 12-15 hours. In no time, you will have an amazing piece of refinished antique furniture on your hands.

Also, you can read: Determine Your Personal Needs Before Buying Home Furniture

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