Painting and Decorating Made Easier!

The recycling and refinishing of any furniture piece depends upon its overall condition. Check your piece very carefully – in full light!

Is the frame solid, and even? Are all of the legs, or feet, in good condition – no big cracks or breaks? Is the piece free of any damage or infestation from mold, mildew, termites, carpenter ants, etc? Are there any signs of water damage – eg. warping, peeling layers of wood?


1. Assess your skills and abilities. Have you ever repaired anything? How handy are you with hand and power tools like screwdrivers, pliers, sanders, drills, and saws?

The number of projects, and the result of each, will show your understanding of tool use. No one can be fooled here. Not even the recycler himself or herself.

2. Rate your patience level. Is it up there with the fine craftspersons that are recognized, and well-paid, for their expertise, workmanship, and fine detailing? Is it down there with the “who’s that again” beginner hobbyists? Or is it somewhere in the middle, with touches on both ends?

In my experience, members in the first group tend to be patient overall, yet “impatient in their practice.” And, this adaptability helps them to persevere, until their projects are done to perfection. Those that you’ve never heard of or seen haven’t got that far yet.

That said, when choosing a furniture piece to recycle, be certain that you have enough patience and perseverance to do a quality job.

Here’s a short list for achieving the smoothest finish possible…

It’s all about multiple applications, and abrasive (eg. sandpaper) polishing between each.

1. Each type of wood requires slight variations in surface preparation. Example: Hardwood (eg. oak, cherrywood) requires thinner coatings to be applied, and finer grades of abrasives to be used.

2. The furniture can be stripped of its original finish. Then you can a apply a new color of stain, followed by separate coats of sealer and clear finish(s) – mainly varnish, polyurethane, acrylic, or urethane.

3. When the furniture is to be painted, the old paint may or may not have to be removed – based on its present adhesion.  In the case of clear-finished furniture, the surface must be sanded before applying an oil-based primer.

4. The optimal finishing always requires the complete removal of the existing finish. This is where the real work rests.  Once the stain and sealer, or first prime coat of paint, is applied and allowed to dry, the process of sanding may begin.

5. It is important to use abrasives in stages of increasing smoothness between each coat of finishing product used.  You can start with a No. 220 or 320 sandpaper, Then step down to a No. 400 only and/or on to a No.. 600. After each sanding, use a tack cloth to wipe the surface clean.

6. Each step in the sanding process increases the smoothness of the piece – including the smoothness of the finished piece.

7. The brush and roller techniques can produce fine work. If available, it’s advisable to spray finish the final coat(s) to produce the ultimate finish. Here, experience is required!

8. In the final application of using a clear finish, finishing compounds – eg. pumice powder, waxes and polishing – may be used to increase surface luster.

9. The greatest requirement for completing fine wood finishing is endless patience.

A personal  example…

My wood finishing skills were put to the test with the finishing of a newly-constructed courtroom. On completion, all of the surfaces were ultra smooth, with perfect color uniformity in the stain work.


The variety of finishes available is there to appeal to one’s personal sense of décor, creative style and imagination. When completed, they can be the focal point of any room, and an important part of the room’s enjoyment and usefulness.  A few examples. . . 

1. Solid color opague finishing – eg. dining room chair, entrance settee, desk 

2. Distressing, which makes furniture appear old and warm – eg. dresser, side table, lamp base

3. Crackling, where surface has cracked finish – eg. candlesticks, light fixtures

4. Federal style colors such as grey, dark red, royal blue, olive green, mustard yellow – eg. china closet, wet sink, large trunk, writing table

5. Marbelized finish, look of fine stone – eg. table top, blanket chest, bench

6. Oriental simulated lacquer, high gloss black or burgundy – eg. jewelry chest, large floor table

I’m always looking for furniture pieces to recycle, refinish, restore, rejuvenate, etc. You can, too. Starting with the furniture in the room where you’re sitting now!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanks for visiting. Have fun “with the process.”

Comments on: "Furniture Recycling: How to Ensure Optimal Finishing Results" (2)

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