Tips for restoring old furniture

There is a ton of old furniture out there, much of which is still in relatively good condition considering its age. While there are plenty of reasons why you might want to pick up a shiny new table or chest of drawers from a store like Ikea, it’s worth looking at an older piece and seeing how you can restore it.

Why bother?

Furniture restoration can be great fun. It’s fantastic to take an old table or cupboard and either restore it to its former glory or upcycle to create something new and funky. You can put your own stamp on the item, which ensures nobody else has anything quite the same in their home. This is more than can be said when you buy a flatpack item from Ikea!

Here are some tips to help you get started.

Tips for restoring old furniture

Look for the right piece of furniture to restore

It’s important to start with the right item. Make sure any piece you decide to renovate isn’t riddled with woodworm or coated in dozens of layers of toxic lead paint. Woodworm can be treated using chemicals, but lead paint is dangerous and should be tackled very carefully.

Contractors need EPA lead paint certifications before they can do work that might disturb paint in older properties. These regulations don’t apply to small furniture restoration projects, but it’s worth bearing in mind that these regulations are there to protect anyone working with old paint.

If you suspect an item has been painted with lead-based paint, use a testing kit and wear a protective mask if you strip the paint off or sand the item down. Alternatively, varnish the item and consider doing decoupage instead.

Decide how you want the item to look

There are many ways to restore an item of furniture. A coat of paint, wax or varnish can work wonders. Many older pieces have many layers of thick, dark varnish, so you may decide to sand the item down and use wax to restore a more natural wood grain color.

Look online for inspiration. Are you after a more decorative look, or does natural appeal?

Check out YouTube accounts and browse Instagram and Pinterest.

There is no right or wrong way to restore a piece of furniture if your aim is to create a distinctive and uniquely personal item for your home.

The only caveat here is if the item is a potentially valuable antique. If you suspect this to be the case, have the item professionally restored instead, or it could end up worthless.

Buy the right materials

Look for suitable paints and other finishes. For example, if you want a shabby chic finish on a chest of drawers, invest in chalk paint. This can be used to create a ‘distressed’ look, which is perfect if you want an aged appearance.

If you plan on painting over existing paint, you may need to repair the surface first if some of the paint is peeling or chipped.

Protect the room

Protect the floor and walls of any room you restore furniture or, or your project could end up costing you more than you anticipated!

Opt for non-toxic stains and paints when you can to improve the air quality if you’re restoring furniture indoors, wear suitable protective clothing like masks and ensure good ventilation.

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Tips for restoring old furniture

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