Through the years, wood furniture loses its luster and there’s no way around it. Instead of buying new furniture, wood can be refinished so that your furnishings are rejuvenated. By stripping down the wood and staining it again, it will look like the furniture underwent a professional transformation.

These 7 steps on how to refinish furniture are designed for the beginner who wants to tackle a weekend project with very little effort.

Step 1. Gather the Needed Tools

When it comes to how to refinish furniture, the better equipped you are, the faster the job and nicer the end result. Before you prepare to tackle this job, here is a list of things that will certainly come in handy and make the job go easier.

Be sure to have:

  • Fine-grit sandpaper.
  • Medium-sized paintbrushes.
  • Plastic paint scraper, polyurethane sealant.
  • Painters or masking tape.
  • Drop cloths.
  • Belt sander.
  • Protective glasses.
  • Low grit sandpaper.
  • Chemical paint stripper.
  • Sanding sealer.
  • Small paintbrush.
  • Cloth.
  • Stain finish.
  • Scraper.
  • And quality rubber gloves.

Step 2. Choose Your Work Area

The area where you intend to refinish the furniture should be considered carefully. The ideal location is one that is well-ventilated. Outside on a deck or in a garage are ideal choices. Just make certain the location is dust-free and dry. This way, nothing should stick to the stain.

Once you secure an area where you can safely work, place down the drop cloth, and tape down the edges. Now you can proceed to remove any hardware, mirrors, or drawers from the furniture that you want to refinished.

Step 3. Strip Away the Old Finish

hand sanding wood with other tools on the surface in the background

Perhaps the most important step in this guide on how to refinish furniture is stripping away the old finish correctly. There are two ways to remove the old finish. Each of them is more a matter of preference. Chemical strippers and sanding will get the same job done. It really depends on the tools you have and how fast you want to work.

Sanding takes longer, but many people prefer to get down and dirty with the furniture as it feels more hands-on. In this case, belt sanders can do a huge area in much less time. Be careful not to sand too deeply. Always choose to hand sand around decorative curves or intricate table legs.

Chemical strippers allow you to remove the finish in the blink of an eye with less effort. Read the label of the stripper you plan to use, mix with water, then use a paintbrush to apply the mixture evenly over the entire piece. The stripper will soak into the wood for 30 minutes. Afterwards, the composition can be removed with your scraper. Be sure to wear your safely glasses and gloves while working with any chemicals. “Will wash away with water” strippers are the best choice for beginners.

Step 4. Sand the Furniture

No matter how great you removed the finish, there will always be some remaining behind or areas needing to be smoothed out. Using the medium/low-grit sandpaper, start cleaning off any of the finish left behind or rough patches that don’t blend with the rest of the piece.

Sanding along the grain of the wood is recommended. That’s because swirl marks caused by sanding incorrectly will certainly stand out once you start staining.

Step 5. Applying Sanding Sealer

Similar to priming wood, sanding sealer reduces the tendency of the wood to absorb the stain in uneven patterns. Use a smaller paintbrush and a cloth to brush clean the surface of the furniture of dust, dirt or particles that could get trapped in the stain.

After vigorously shaking the can of sealer, apply two very thin and even coats using your medium size paintbrush. Immediately wipe away any puddles or pools of sealer in decorative grooves with a rag. Let the sealer set before sanding lightly with a medium-grit sandpaper. Wipe the surface of the furniture with a clean cloth and we’re ready for staining.

Step 6. Staining the Wood

hand with white glove staining wood with paint brush

Choose the stain carefully. The selection will determine the color of this piece of furniture once the job is finished. When learning how to refinish furniture, this is the time to take extra precautions to get it right. Staining affects the overall look of the piece.

There are two things to consider at this point. Oil-based stains will penetrate the wood without affecting the grain. On the other hand, water-based stains cleanup using soap and water and are environmentally friendly.

Using a medium-sized paintbrush or cloth, start applying a thin coat of stain. Put your brush down and wait for the layer to fix in the wood. The number of coatings will decide how dark the colors will be once the stain is dry. The more layers, the more in-depth will be the final design.

An additional recommendation is to sand between the coats with not much of a pressure. At the end, remove excess stain with a clean cloth. Wait some time to let your creation dry completely.

Keep in mind that if you’re using water-based stains, you could minimize grains raising by moistening the wood first with a damp cloth before sanding. Let the wood dry completely and then sand with fine-grit sandpaper.

Step 7. Apply Sealant

The last step in this guide on how to refinish furniture is applying the polyurethane to seal that stain finish. Apply polyurethane using a paintbrush or cloth in smooth and even strokes that go in the direction of the grain. If using a brush, hold it vertically while applying. Overlap brushstrokes as you move to the next area. Keep working in a consistent pattern so there will not be any bare spots. Once you cover the entire piece, let it dry for a couple of hours.

A few more coats may be needed. In between coats, you can sand lightly with fine-grit paper only when the surface is completely dry to the touch. Use a clean cloth to wipe down the piece to remove residue from sanding.

Final Word

Great work on the refinishing project! These how to refinish furniture steps were simple to implement. Now you’ve returned that wood furniture to its former glorious state. If you have some tips or shortcuts that could help our readers, please share your experiences here with us.

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