On the fence about whether or not to refinish a piece of furniture? This is a difficult decision-making process when considering the value that antique furniture may have. It’s important to make the right decision to protect your piece and its value. Below, see the steps for how to make your decision:

Discover the clues to your piece’s history

You have to know what you’re working with before allowing your daughter to paint your Grandmother’s old dresser pink! Look for clues to find out the furniture’s story. The below key factors will help you make your decision.

How old is it?

The older the piece, the more valuable. That’s an easy rule. Older pieces may also have a nice patina or age mark on them that increases the value of the piece. You can determine age by noticing the patina, wood type, style and maker. Older pieces tend to be made from rare wood species such as walnut and oak.

Is it handmade?

Older pieces also tend to be handmade. You can identify handmade pieces by noting small variations in the joints or slight variation in the symmetry. Carved aspects may also include indications of handmade furniture. Machine made or mass-manufactured pieces don’t exhibit these characteristics as the wood was cut with machines.

Is there a maker’s marking?

Finally, the maker’s marking is a clear indicator of value which can be very difficult to find. Even a smudge on the back of a dresser or on the bottom of a desk may indicate a former stamp. Depending on who the maker was, identifying the maker can cause the piece to increase in value. The more value your piece seems to have based on these clues, the better it is to leave the piece as is. Perhaps your piece only needs a minor cleaning. Once you’ve finished this evaluation and learned your piece’s history, it’s time to check some additional details.

Learn about its journey through time

Unfortunately, damage happens. If your piece has been damaged significantly, this can decrease its value, meaning it’s a good candidate for refinishing. Water stains, fire damage, scratches and missing hardware are all different levels of damage that can affect your piece in different ways. If entire sections of the piece such as wardrobe doors or drawers are missing or unusable due to fire damage, you might consider a complete refinishing or even a do-it-yourself job. However, one missing desk-drawer knob is not the end of the world.

Remember also to be on the look-out for previous repair jobs. A good quality repair will be very hard to notice. However, poor quality repairs detract from the value of a piece and could mean you should likely seek professional help to correct the repairs.

If you can’t tell – get help

In the event that you think you have a fairly valuable piece on your hands, the least invasive method or preserving your furniture is the best choice. Cleaning up the furniture can be enough in many cases. However, if you’re still unsure about what to do after investigating your piece’s history, get some help. A quality antique furniture restorer can assist you with the evaluation of your piece and give you advice about your options. This way, you can be sure you’re making the best decision about your antique furniture and, in many cases, family history.

(Rahn’s Furniture Restoration is a premium antique furniture restoration company. Contact us to assist you with your furniture restoration and refinishing needs.)

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