It’s a simple fact of life that, unless you cover your furniture with plastic covers, wear and tear will eventually make it look shabby and worn. With apologies to all of our dear aunts who still think that plastic-covered furniture is fine, you can use a few techniques to bring back the look of some furniture without the expense of restoration or the bigger expense of replacement.
Of course, there are times that no matter what you do, a piece of furniture needs professional help, but until it reaches that point there are plenty of things that you can do to fix the small problems that make your furniture look shabby.
Alternatives to expensive restoration for wood furniture
When it comes to refurbishing furniture on your own, the first step is to clean the piece. No matter how small the problem is if it is not clean there is nothing you can do to make it look better. For wood furniture that means washing it with a non-abrasive cleanser and lightly going over it with very fine steel wool.
Once it is clean, check the piece over for nicks, scratches and stains. There are a few tricks to take care of those:
- Stains can be taken out of wood with a mixture of canola oil and vinegar. Mix ¾ of a cup of vinegar to ¼ cup of canola oil and rub it into the wood with a cotton cloth. The mixture will lift the stains out of the wood and begin restoring its natural luster.
- Scratches on wood can be covered by applying a layer of coffee grounds – for dark furniture – or by rubbing it with a walnut – for light wood – and then wiping it off after letting it set for a few minutes.
- Water rings, caused by glasses left sitting on a table, can be removed with mayonnaise. All you have to do is spread a thin layer on the damaged surface and let is sit for a half an hour. All you have to do is wipe them mayo up and the ring goes with it.
- If you have a dent in your wooden furniture you can pour water on it then place a towel or shirt over the water and set a hot iron on the cloth. The heat from the iron will cause the water to be absorbed by the wood and within a few minutes the dent should be gone. If it doesn’t disappear after a couple minutes, set the iron back down on it and continue until it has.
You can stop there, but on advice from the experts at Eastern Suburb antique restoration once you have cleaned the piece, give it a light rub of furniture oil – it doesn’t matter which brand – and let it soak in. You might have to repeat this step a couple of times to see a difference, but once the oil soaks in it will really bring out the pattern in the wood. Go over the piece again with fine steel wool and then seal it with Tung oil. Once the Tung oil has dried, give it a light coat of wax and polish it.
Different materials require different solutions
What works with hardwoods, won’t work with other materials. Damage to plywood and veneers can be a lot more difficult than hard woods while damage to plastic furniture can be quickly and easily fixed. When it comes to plastics, for example, the best way to clean any piece is with bleach. If you can’t get it clean using a mix of ¼ cup bleach to a gallon of hot water, it probably won’t get clean. Bleach is a very caustic chemical and gloves should be worn when cleaning with it. After it has been cleaned remember to wipe the entire piece with a dry, white cloth to get all of the bleach off. From there, the new plastic-formulated paints make it easy to give plastic furniture a brand-new look.
Every material has its own peculiarities and there are plenty of places that will show you the best ways to clean and refurbish any material. The most important thing to remember is that you like the piece of furniture – for whatever reason – and if you want to restore it, have a ball.
How to know if something is worth saving
Knowing when you need help is what separates the amateurs from the professionals. Some furniture restoration projects need more than just cleaning and a fresh coat of oil or paint. Sometimes a piece needs expert care or at least expert advice on fixing a problem.
Modern technology is bringing that expert advice into your home in a very personalized manner. More and more restoration companies are willing to work off of photos or streamed video to give potential customers an idea of the scope of projects and whether it can be done at home or if professional help is needed. The best part of that is you don’t have to wait for your local shop to get the time.
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