Painting and Decorating Made Easier!

If you are looking to retain the value of an antique, do not restore the finish. Leave it as it is.

 

If the future dollar value doesn’t impress you, a new finish, if done properly, will revive an old and worn out look into a complete marvel. Just don’t take it to Antiques Roadshow.

 

Primarily, I recommend “refinishing” to those individuals who have no intention of selling or trading off their antiques. When a particular item is to remain in your home, its condition sould be of significant importance.

 

Too, you may be interested in restoring it to preserve the integrity of the piece.

 

In order to judge it properly, you will need to assess the exact needs of the object. Examine the following:

 

  1. Are there any structural repairs that need to be done? Examples: wood- veneer replacement, re-molding fabrication, joinery, etc.
  2. What is the condition of the hardware? Examples: glass, handles, knobs, hinges. Do they need replacement or reconditioning?
  3. Does it need a thorough cleaning? Recommended: Citrus type cleanser or mild detergent.
  4. What is the condition of the stained, clear-finished surface? Is there an uneven stain pattern? Are there defects in the clear coat (crazing, alligatoring, cracking, etc.)?

 

METHODS OF ANTIQUE SURFACE RE-FINISHING

 

You can remove aged or failed finishes in one of two ways:

  1. Dry sand surface, using # 80-#120 grit sandpaper, depending on the roughness of surface.
  2. Apply varnish remover to loosen all layers of finish. Key here: Treat the surface gently. Try not to scratch the wood at all, or too deeply.

 

BASIC STEPS FOR REFINISHING AN ANTIQUE SURFACE

 

  1. Clean the surface. Use lacquer thinner, or another high evaporating type solvent. Let this dry thoroughly.
  2. Determine the color of stain that you wish to use. Based on the lightness of the stain, you may have to bleach the wood so that the new product can penetrate the surface evenly.
  3. When the surface is dry, apply stain using a two-coat application with a rag and/or sponge. Let dry between coats.
  4. After 24 hours, apply multiple, thin coats of sanding sealer or shellac using spray method. Sand surface between coats, and use tack cloth.
  5. Select either a solvent-based varnish or polyurethane, or an acrylic clear coat as a top coat.
  6. Apply several finish coats by using an HVLP spray system. Lightly sand between each coat. At this point, you can use either a # 400 grit sandpaper, or emery cloth.
  7. After the surface has cured 48 hours, you may apply a polish or wax, specifically designed for wood.

 

In refinishing quality antique pieces, try to prevent scratching the wood surface. The general idea is to remove as little of the existing finish as is necessary. TIP: If a stain color change is planned, the bare wood tone after stripping must be as uniform as possible.

 

Also, by selecting a matte varnish or polyurethane finish, you will be able to camouflage any minor imperfections in the wood.

 

As a form of Nuveau furniture design, separate pieces of wood can be finished with completely different colors of stain and finish. Few people try this. But, the end result exceeds all others. It is highly decorative. And, it has similarities to the Folk Art style.

 

Finally, if you want to retain the full retail value on the antique market, don’t do anything to the piece, other than clean it. And do that very carefully!

 

Final notes: As I’ve learned, each antique piece presents its unique set of signs that it should not be refinished. Each piece presents its unique set of challenges to the person that will be refinishing and/or restoring the piece’s integrity. It is always wise to listen to both messages.

 

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Wise is the painter/finisher who respects the true, and deeper, character of each antique piece.

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Thank you for each visit that you’ve made to “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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