Renovating and restoring wooden furniture: the most effective methods to make your pieces look like new again

by Mark Bennett

April 06, 2024

Renovating and restoring wooden furniture: the most effective methods to make your pieces look like new again

If you are lucky enough to own antique wooden furniture, you certainly want to preserve its beauty. And, if your pieces are valuable, it's certainly advisable to entrust any repairs to expert hands. If you are skilled at DIY, however, you can try your hand at restoring and repairing your antique furniture yourself (if you are sure you won't damage it).

Below, we outline some simple techniques for restoring and/or repairing antique wooden furniture:

Damage assessment and preparation

Damage assessment and preparation


The first step in restoring/repairing your antique wooden furniture is to evaluate the extent of the damage: moderate damage may simply require revarnishing, while more serious damage will need to be handled differently. To deal with more serious damage, the piece will need to be stripped of paint, wax or varnish first.

To strip your furniture, use one of 3 methods described below:

  • Paint stripper: this is a chemical product that must be applied to the surface of the furniture and left to act for the the period of time given in the product's instructions before removing the paint with a spatula. These products must be used only in a well-ventilated area and taking all necessary health precautions (as they can be toxic);
  • Sandblasting: a sandblaster sprays sand directly onto the paint, quickly and effectively removing it from the surface; when using a sandblaster, always wear gloves, a mask and eye protection;
  • Heat blower: this tool heats up paint, causing it to wrinkle and lift, making it easy to remove with a spatula. Economical and versatile, this tool is also suitable for removing wax and stickers.

NOTE: if your furniture is waxed or polished, you will first need to dewax it before carrying out above operations (use a commercial de-waxing agent like Goo Gone, for example).


Restore wooden furniture

Restore wooden furniture


Once the above preparatory phase is complete, it's time to restore your furniture:

  • To repair woodworm damage, you will first need to treat the furniture with a woodworm poison;
  • To repair holes left by woodworms (or repair scratches and other damage), the best remedy is to use wood pulp, ie. a paste made with wood fibers that can be easily applied using a spatula. Once dry, any excess can be removed with sandpaper ;
  • If, however, you need to glue loose parts of your furniture, use a good wood/carpentry glue.

Once these taskss have been completed, you can proceed with the finishing touches:

  • A natural, transparent-products treatment is perfect for furniture that already has a beautiful color and this treatment will accentuate the color and natural shades;
  • A wood stainer will give the wood a different - usually darker - shade (which may be what you are looking for).

And what if the furniture doesn't need stripping? In this case, it will be sufficient to remove old wax with a wax remover and reapply a fresh coat (you can use beeswax for this).

Using these simple techniques will rejuvenate your antique wooden furniture!