For many people, the first instinct they get when an item of furniture gets old and worn out is to throw it away. It’s not unusual, especially here in Trinidad, to see items like old wooden chairs, tables, dressers and bed frames thrown out in the garbage in favour of purchasing new ones.
But new furniture can be pricey. And sometimes, all the old furniture needs is a bit of care to bring it back to a pristine state. So don’t be so quick to throw that old desk or dining set out. Don’t rule out purchasing used furniture either.
Refinishing old furniture is not only cheaper than purchasing new items, but can help you keep those cherished items in your family for a long time. In fact, refinishing may be the better choice as older items of furniture are often of better quality than the mass produced furniture available on the market today. They don’t make furniture like they used to. So a piece built in the 1950’s may not be looking its best now, but it may be structurally stronger and more durable than anything you can purchase today. It might even be visually nicer than anything you can find in your local furniture store. So why not restore it?
What is refinishing? Well, this is the process in which the original layer of a piece of wooden furniture is stripped away, and a new, fresh layer applied. Professional refinishing can do wonders for old or damaged pieces of furniture and antiques and help breathe new life into them. An old wardrobe or cabinet could very well become a sentimental family heirloom passed down for generations.
A lot of work goes into refinishing furniture to have the items looking good as new. An item that has been sitting neglected in your garage should first and foremost be cleaned to remove all the excess dirt and grime. The outer layer can then be removed by sanding until all the glossiness is gone and only bare wood is visible. From here, the bare wood can be stained, varnished or painted over to your liking.
The process can be intimidating and may require additional work to even out dents and chips, but once done by a professional, will have your item looking store ready.
Apart from being more cost effective, restoring your old furniture has several other benefits. It reduces wastage and ultimately benefits the environment. Think about it. More restored furniture means less need for trees to be cut down to produce more. Refinishing can also help you restyle your home and give it a fresh new look without actually having to purchase any new items.
However, not all wooden furniture can be salvaged. If you’re looking to purchase an item of furniture to restore, experts recommend choosing only furniture that has been varnished and not painted as paint can hide a number of other difficult to fix problems. Below the paint could be burns, stains and other hard to hide marks that only become visible after the paint is stripped away.
Sometimes the item you want to refinish isn’t even wood. A lot of the furniture produced today is made from materials that are designed to look and feel like wood or are a mixture of wood and other materials that cannot be refinished in the traditional sense.
Cheap, mass produced furniture can but may not be worth the hassle to refinish. Make sure the item you’re desirous of restoring is sturdy and has no extreme damage from termites, water damage or rot. Furniture that isn’t as sturdy and may feel “rickety” when shaken can still be salvaged but will have to be strengthened with additional gluing or clamping.
Different types of wood will give you a different outcome when refinished. Depending on the wood, your refinished piece may be lighter or darker than the original colour, when the outer layers are stripped away.
Refinishing is best left to a professional as some pieces of furniture contain intricate designs that can be difficult and tricky to get around. Some items may be chipped or dented and need to be filled and smoothed over. With valuable antique or vintage pieces, it is even more important to consult a professional as a poor refinishing job will decrease the value of the item, whereas an expert job will help to preserve or even increase its value.
Rest assured that your furniture is in good hands with the team at TriniHelper who can repair and restore your items so that they look their best and last for a long time to come.
If you’re not ready to commit to refinishing your furniture, there are still things you can do to bring some life back into your old items. It is not always necessary to strip and re-varnish your wooden furniture but simply cleaning thoroughly with soap and water can make a huge difference and remove unsightly dirt and grime. For imperfections like white rings and other markings, you can try rubbing the area with a small amount of petroleum jelly. If this doesn’t work, there are several products available that can help fade the imperfections.
For more visible imperfections like dents or chips in your furniture, you can use epoxy putty to fill the damaged area. This material can be shaped and stained to match the colour of the item and, if done correctly, it will be impossible to see the difference.
You can even stain furniture without stripping the outer layer, once the item is in good enough condition. A layer of stain is often enough to revitalise an old piece of furniture but it will not be enough for items that have bad water stains or other visible defects.
Sometimes a piece of furniture is perfect as is but has a crack or two. In this case, it’s not necessary to refinish the entire item. Small cracks can be filled in easily with wax fill sticks and smoothed over.
Contact us at www.trinihelper.com/quotations when you ready for a consultation on your furniture restoration.