So, you have an old wooden dining room table and chairs that has seen better days. Maybe it is a family heirloom, or perhaps you just found it and felt it was a great deal. No matter how you came to own this piece, you now want to make it look its best.
Determine if it is Worth the Effort
Not all furniture is created equal, and you need to decide if a piece is worth saving before investing your time, money, and effort. If a piece has sentimental value, that might be enough to move forward with refinishing it. If not, you need to look at the pros and cons.
The first thing is to determine if the problems with the furniture are simply cosmetic. If so, refinishing should take care of it. If not, you may need to actually restore the piece. Painted pieces often have deeper flaws as paint is often used to hide them. Additionally, you want to check to see what wood is used. If you are dealing with particleboard and laminate, chances are refinishing won’t be worth the effort, nor will it yield the results you desire. Finally, check to see if the furniture is rickety. If so, it likely needs to be reglued, a job that is best left to the professionals.
If you decide the piece is worth saving, your first option is traditional refinishing. The goal of this type of refinishing is to remove the damaged layers and make the piece look like new again. With this method, the natural beauty of the wood should shine through.
You should start by getting the furniture into an open, well-ventilated space. If needed, lay down sheeting to protect the floor. Once everything is set up, brush an even coat of stripper over the surface and leave it sit for 15-20 minutes. Then, use a plastic scraper to remove the finish.
Once the finish has been removed, you use a fine-grade sandpaper to lightly sand the surface, always going with the grain. You can use 120-grit sandpaper to smooth rougher patches and then go over everything with 220-grit sandpaper to finish. Once sanding is done, wipe the table and chairs clean to ensure there is no remaining debris.
If you are trying to remove stain and not just finish, you will need to do more sanding. In this case, an electric sander will yield the best results and save your arms. If you do not want to buy one, many hardware stores offer them for rent.
If your wood has open grain, you will need to use grain filler to give the surface a smooth and polished look; simply follow the directions on the package for the best results. Once it is dry, go over it with 220-grit sandpaper again.
Next is the application of the stain. Be sure to apply it evenly, and use as many coats as needed to get the color you want. When there is excess, wipe it off quickly so it does not cause the stain to look uneven. You can sand with a fine grade sandpaper between coats.
Finally, it is time to add the finish. Varnish and lacquer offer the most protection, but your choice is really a matter of personal preference. Keep in mind that lacquers are more difficult to apply than other finishes, so you might want to get some practice in first.
Traditional refinishing is really only an option when furniture is in good condition. If your dining room table and chairs are not, a crafty approach may be best. While you still need sturdy furniture, imperfection are not a problem.
What are some crafty refinishing approaches you can take? You can paint, stencil, decoupage, and even use wallpaper. In each case, you would remove the finish and sand the piece, but rather than applying stain, you would paint the whole piece, stencil in a design, or apply the paper. From there, you can finish it just as you would in the traditional method.
If your skills aren’t quite what you want them to be, or the refinishing process is more complex than you would like, you can turn to a professional service. These services can take care of the refinishing as well as correct any structural issues they find. As a result, you get a beautiful dining room set that is sure to last for years to come.
Not sure which approach is best for your furniture? Give us a call. We will gladly head over to your home to assess your furniture.