A Beginner’s Guide to Restoring and Refinishing Old Furniture


Restoring and refinishing old furniture can be a rewarding and creative endeavor. From reviving a family heirloom to giving a thrift store find new life, restoring and refinishing furniture allows you to connect with the past and express your personal style. However, if you’re new to this process, it can seem overwhelming. Where do you start? What materials do you need? In this beginner’s guide, we will take you through the essential steps to successfully restore and refinish your old furniture.

Step 1: Assess the Furniture

Before you begin the restoration process, take a close look at the furniture you want to restore and evaluate its condition. Look for any damage, loose joints, or missing pieces. Assess the type of wood and finish on the piece. This will help you determine the level of restoration required and the techniques and materials you will need to use.

Step 2: Gather Your Tools and Materials

To restore and refinish old furniture, you will need a variety of tools and materials. Some essential tools include sandpaper, paintbrushes, a putty knife, wood glue, a hammer, and pliers. When it comes to materials, you might need wood filler, paint or stain, varnish, and wax. Make sure you have everything you need before you start the restoration process to avoid any unnecessary delays.

Step 3: Clean and Remove Old Finish

Cleaning the furniture is an important first step in the restoration process. Use a mild detergent or furniture cleaner to remove any dirt, grime, or wax buildup. Next, you will need to remove the old finish. This can be done using chemical strippers or by sanding the surface. Whichever method you choose, make sure you follow safety guidelines and work in a well-ventilated area.

Step 4: Repair and Replace

After cleaning and removing the old finish, inspect the furniture for any repairs that need to be made. Loose joints can be fixed by applying wood glue and clamping the pieces together until the glue dries. If any pieces are missing or irreparable, consider replacing them with similar materials to maintain the integrity of the piece.

Step 5: Sanding and Smoothing

Sanding is an essential step in the restoration process as it helps smoothen the surface and prepare it for the new finish. Start with a coarse-grit sandpaper and gradually work your way to finer grits for a smooth and even finish. Be sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid any scratches or damage.

Step 6: Staining or Painting

Now it’s time to add color to your furniture. If you prefer to highlight the natural beauty of the wood, consider staining it. Stain comes in various shades, so choose one that complements your desired look. Apply the stain evenly with a brush or cloth, following the manufacturer’s instructions. If you prefer a painted finish, choose a high-quality furniture paint and apply it in thin, even coats. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

Step 7: Protect and Finish

Once the stain or paint has dried, it’s crucial to protect your newly restored furniture. Apply a clear varnish or polyurethane sealer over the stained wood or painted surface to protect it from stains and wear. This will also provide a smooth and glossy finish. For a more rustic or aged look, consider applying a wax finish instead. This will give your furniture a soft sheen and protect it in a subtler way.


Restoring and refinishing old furniture can be a gratifying project for beginners. By following these essential steps, you can transform worn-out pieces into beautiful and functional treasures. Remember to assess the furniture, gather the necessary tools and materials, clean and remove the old finish, repair and replace as needed, sand and smooth the surface, add color through staining or painting, and protect and finish the restored piece. Enjoy the process and let your creativity shine as you revive old furniture and create something unique and special.

Need a Wood Worker in Slaughter, LA?

Established in 1999, we here at Americajun Furniture Solutions is a woodworker’s shop in Slaughter, LA, that provides delivery throughout the United States. At our shop, we build custom furniture, restore antique furniture, build libraries, and more. We also provide onsite furniture repair and installation for large furniture and libraries. At the end of the day, our goal is to provide you with quality craftsmanship. For more information about what we can do for you, call and set up an appointment with us today.