How to Refinish an Antique Chair In a Few Easy Steps
An antique chair can bring a unique decorative touch to your home without a big price tag. But transforming a worn-out piece into the treasure you see underneath takes a little time and just a little knowledge.
The first step is to strip off all the old finish adhering to the wood of the antique chair. Now, some antique dealers will say to never strip off a finish. But logically, if a piece is in awful shape, you have got to do something to clean it up. So for a compromise, take very old, unique or fine pieces to a professional restorer. Take care of common pieces yourself.
So, first, strip the wood. With commercially available stripper, you will be able to dissolve and scrape off old layers of paint and varnish. You may have to work through several layers of finishes. If your antique chair has lots of carving, get a toothbrush or a wire brush to really clean out small crevices.
An antique chair will have to undergo at least one treatment with stripper, usually more. The best stripper is a thin paste. Apply it to wood surfaces, let it dissolve into the finish for about fifteen minutes, then scrape it off. Repeat as many times as necessary.
Once all the old paint and finishes have been removed from your antique chair, you must sand it all over. This cleans and evens the wood’s surface so that it can accept your new finish evenly. This job goes a lot faster with a small electric sander with fine paper. Use a drill with different size sanding bits to get in the smallest details of the carving. No power tool, no problem though. Use sanding blocks – sponges coated with a sanding surface. They can squeeze and fit over any contour more easily that plain sand paper.
So now the antique chair is smooth, clean, and dry. Now you get to pick the next step: what to refinish it with.
Pick either wood stain or paint. Wood stain comes in many colors and “dyes” the wood but allows the grain to show through. You can get standard wood colors from light brown to black or any other color you want. Paint is opaque and can have a glossy or matte finish.
Put on one layer of your refinishing solution, and wait a night before putting on the next layer. Put three coats if you really want. Then finish off with a paint sealant, and there is a good-as-new antique chair.