It's hard to pinpoint the exact charm of old wooden furniture. Whether it's the attention to detail, master craftsmanship or simply the stories the pieces could tell, the truth is that they have an irreplaceable beauty. Unfortunately, time takes a toll on these once splendid classics. With a few simple improvements your wood can stand strong again, ready to tell the stories of what they experience today.
Many of the doorjambs, molding, stair rails and mantels that were built long ago have become run down or been painted over. To restore these beautiful accents in your home, and to reveal the rich color of the wood grain, follow these steps.
Strip the Paint
In a well-ventilated space, apply a thick layer of a chemical stripper. Wear protective gear over your eyes and hands, and use a heavy drop cloth to protect whatever is beneath your work area. Chemical strippers soften the paint enough to allow you to scrape it off. Make sure you wait five to ten minutes to allow the stripper to work.
Wipe the wood down with clean rags and mineral spirits, then allow to dry. (Mineral spirits are a type of cleaner/paint thinner available at most home centers.)
To finish getting the paint off, as well as prepare the wood for the stain, sand the wood. Sand either by machine or by hand and, start with 80 to 100 grit sandpaper. Remember to always sand with the grain when you're sanding by hand to produce a smoother surface.
Correct the Defects
If there are any defects in the wood, now is the time to fix them. Fill holes, nicks and dents using wood filler or wood paste. Both of these are available in most home centers. Apply with a spatula or other flat tool to and then mold it to make sure it matches the shape of the wood.
Once the wood filler or wood paste has set, sand the whole piece again. Use a progression of finer and finer sand paper to build in beauty. Start around 80 grit and use finer and finer sandpaper, up to 120 or 150 grit. Do this either by hand or with a sander.
Stain and Re-Stain
Choose a desired color for the wood, most likely matching the original color. Make sure the surface is dust free, then apply a coat of stain in this color. Let it dry, then apply another coat of stain. Depending on how it looks after this second coat, you can continue to apply coats until you're pleased with the outcome.
Read the instructions that come with the stain, and follow them if they differ from what's presented here.
Create a Set
Using a simple distressing technique on mismatched wood furniture will help you create a cohesive unit.
Just choose the pieces you'd like to re-do and paint all of them in a matching shade. Allow the paint to dry then use a sturdy metal object such as a chain, to create bumps and nicks in certain areas. Use sand paper to remove paint around the edges.
Finish up your updated furniture by applying varnish, which you will quickly wipe off with a cloth.
Restoring the wood in your home to its former glory or creating an updated look is a great way to make an old home feel new, without losing its charm. And these projects are surprisingly easy and fun to do!