Make It Your Own: How To Refinish Furniture Like A Pro

How To Refinish Furniture

Refinishing your great-great-grandmothers antique display cabinet may seem like a daunting task to the everyday person.

However, DIY refinishing has become a popular hobby. Many people run businesses by refinishing and selling furniture that would have otherwise been sent to landfill.

Whether you found a side table in a charity store, or are polishing up a family heirloom, follow our 7 easy steps on how to refinish furniture in your home.

1. Firstly Decide Whether It Should Be Refinished at All

Before you decide to strip the dresser, table, and chairs, check whether the furniture doesn’t just need a new clear top coat.

Secondly, establish the value of the item, especially if it is an antique.

Thirdly, ensure that the piece is made from solid hardwood instead of veneer or similar.

2. Still Unsure?

There are a few signs that you should look out for to determine whether your furniture needs a full refinish:

  1. The finish is flaking or chipped
  2. The furniture is patchy
  3. It is sticky after it has been cleaned
  4. The current finish is cracked down to the wood
  5. Watermarks or other imperfections underneath the finish

3. Clean the Piece of Furniture

Completely clean the piece of furniture and ensure you get into all the nooks and crannies. An old soft toothbrush works well for this.

You don’t need to invest in fancy cleaners, dish soap and warm water will do the job without further damaging the furniture.

Ensure you dry the piece fully.

4. Remove Old Finish

There are 2 ways to strip old wood. The first is sanding and the second is a chemical stripper.


For this, you can use coarse sandpaper or use an electric sander to start. Use the coarse paper until the finish is off. 

Then switch to medium grit sandpaper and use until the shine is dulled. Finally, switch to fine grit sandpaper to get a smooth surface all over the piece.

Try not to over sand and take off too much wood in one area. Be particularly careful if you are using an electric sander.

Chemical Stripper

Chemical stripper products are designed to strip the wood without any elbow grease. Apply the stripper and leave on for 10 minutes. Use a scraper to remove all the finish.

You may still have to sand down the furniture to get a smooth finish.

5. Apply a Coat of Sealant 

Ensure you allow enough time for your piece to dry fully.

A coat of sealant will seal the wood before you stain it. This ensures the stain goes on evenly and prevents the wood from absorbing the stain.

Apply a thick coat and leave it to soak into the wood. Wipe off any residue and remaining sealant.

Once the sealant is dry, sand with fine paper to ensure a smooth surface. 

6. Stain or Paint? You Decide 

Depending on what finish you are going for, now is the time to either stain or paint your furniture piece.

This decision is entirely preference based. We recommend that high-quality antique pieces are stained, to keep their authenticity.

Any low-quality pieces may look better with a coat of colorful paint.

7. Apply a Coat of Finish

The last step is to add a layer of finish to seal the stain or paint. This will protect the color and the surface for many years.

How to Refinish Furniture: After the Refinishing Project

After you’ve invested time and labor into restoring your old furniture, it is important to maintain it. 

Ensure you keep it clean and polished and prevent damage to the piece. 

Now you know how to refinish furniture in your home. For more design ideas and other projects, visit our blog.

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