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How Can I Stain and Refinish an Antique Dresser?

Updated on February 27, 2015

Combat Age by Refinishing Your Antique Furniture!

Few pieces of furniture are as beautiful as a well-finished antique dresser. However, with age, antiques often become distressed and require refinishing to look their best. It’s important that individuals do their research before attempting to refinish an antique dresser, to ensure they’re doing it properly and to avoid compromising the value of the piece.

Determining Value Before Refinishing an Antique Dresser

Before doing anything to the finish of an antique dresser, individuals should have it dated and appraised. Some valuable antiques will become worthless or lose a lot of their value when their owners attempt to refinish them. Antiques dealers can appraise the dresser so that the individual can determine whether or not they really want to stain and finish the dresser.

Removing Any Old Paint From the Dresser

When the individual is sure he or she wants to continue with the project, the next step is to remove any old paint that might still be on the dresser. To do this, a commercial stripper can be used that eats through layers of the paint and removes it from the dresser. This should be done in a well ventilated area and may need to be done several times before all layers of paint are removed from the antique dresser.

Sanding Down the Dresser

After all layers of paint have been removed and individuals are left with the bare dresser, some sanding may need to be done in order to smooth everything out and prepare the dresser for the staining. Hand-sanding is best, although in some larger areas, a palm sander could be used. Individuals can run their hand over the dresser to ensure that all areas are smooth. Use a damp cloth to remove all the wood particles after sanding the surface, ensuring that it’s ready for the staining process.

Staining the Antique Dresser

Now that the dresser is clean and prepped, use a paint brush or old rag to stain the dresser. Dip the brush or rag into the stain and then wipe it onto the dresser in clean, even strokes. Coat the whole dresser, ensuring that it’s at the perfect color. This should also be done in a well-ventilated area. Pay special attention to grooves or nooks created by scrolled or elaborately cut wood.

Sealing the Dresser

Now that the dresser is stained, most individuals will want to seal the dresser off and give it a gleam. This can be done with some polyurethane and a paint brush. Simply dip the paint brush into the polyurethane and give the whole dresser a generous coating. Ensure that the polyurethane is evenly distributed and then allow the dresser to dry in a well-ventilated, airy space for at least 24 hours.

After these steps are complete, the beautiful antique dresser can be placed in the bedroom to wow guests or impress the owner. Each of these steps should be done in a well-ventilated, spacious area free of any open flames or sparks. Care should be used when working with chemicals and paints.

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