Decor Q&A: Refinishing Wood Furniture

Q.

We don’t like the natural wood color of our dresser and want to refinish it. How do you refinish wood furniture that has not been painted?

A.

Although it’s hard work, you can easily refinish your dresser in the course of a Saturday (well, you may need a Sunday too) with just a trip to the hardware store and a little elbow grease. Do it outside or in a well ventilated room so you don’t inhale too many chemicals, and wear gloves.

Start by stripping the original finish with a chemical stripper in a gel or paste formula. Follow the instructions on the package to apply it, and then remove as much of the original finish as you can with a scraper. Clean the rest of the stripper from the wood according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Next, sand the wood until it is smooth using 220 grit paper, working in the direction of the wood’s grain. Apply a “sanding sealer” to the wood to ensure that it doesn’t absorb the new stain unevenly (follow the manufacturer’s instructions). Then stain in the shade of your choice (water-based stains are the most environmentally friendly). Reapply until you achieve the color you desire. Wipe the wood with a clean cloth and allow it to dry. Finally, apply a protective finish such as polyurethane or lacquer. Presto—a dresser that looks brand new and fits your taste to a T.

Nestpert: Celeste Perron, author of Playing House: A Starter Guide to Being a Grown-Up

-- The Nest Editors

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