Ultimate Guide to Antique Furniture Restoration
Antique furniture is more popular than ever. This means that already-restored antique furniture for sale can be more expensive. So, if you want the unmatched class of classic furniture at a more affordable price point, why not pick up something slightly dilapidated and do the restoration work yourself?
You’ll be amazed by what you can achieve. A paint touch up, an entirely new colour or just some sanding and staining can completely reinvigorate a piece of antique furniture. And, for years to come, whenever you look at your dining table, chair or bar, you’ll get that feeling of satisfaction that only comes from creating something yourself.
Quick Tips For A Successful DIY Antique Furniture Project
The first thing to keep in mind when restoring a piece of antique furniture is to protect its value. If you’re dealing with a rare Chinese or French piece, for example, you could affect its value significantly by striping back or altering the features that make it so sought after. If you are in any way concerned that you could damage the piece, seek professional advice first.
You also need to use the best quality products. When it comes to restoration products, you really do get what you pay for—cheap or inferior products will ruin your prized piece. You should always conduct spot tests before you apply a product to an entire item. When performing spot tests, ensure you use a non-visible area like the bottom of a seat or behind the leg of a table.
Always work in a well-ventilated area and pay close attention to things like drying times and other recommendations listed on any products. Manufacturers are always the best authority on getting the most for your purchase.
Key Considerations When Restoring Antique Furniture
Before starting any antique furniture restoration project, you should always ask (and answer) the following questions.
Is The Furniture Painted?
Painted pieces throw up all sorts of challenges. Firstly, the paint may have been applied to cover up dents or stains, meaning stripping the paint will just be the beginning of the job.
How Solid Is The Furniture?
Older pieces of furniture will generally be more sturdy than anything built after about the 1960s when mass production really came into vogue. The more solid the piece, the more robust you can be during the restoration. You also have to know if you’re dealing with solid wood or laminate or particleboard. Furniture constructed from the latter generally isn’t worth the cost of refurbishment.
Does The Furniture Need To Be Reglued?
Always test the sturdiness of the antique piece before you begin work. Check how much it sways and see how healthy the joints are when you place pressure on them. If it isn’t sturdy, you will probably need to reglue or reinforce parts of the furniture which again adds to the job. You need to ask yourself if you’re prepared to do this, or if you’d rather work with a piece that is already structurally-sound.
How Do You Want Furniture To Look?
You have to remember that a refurbished piece will look different from what it looks like before you begin work. For example, wooden furniture often looks darker after a restoration. Will you still be happy with that look? Will it satisfy your design ambitions? If not, is it worth investing the time and money into a restoration project that will leave you with an antique furniture item that just isn’t to your liking?
Is It Worth Paying A Professional?
If you’re dealing with a large or complex job, paying a professional can actually save you money. Firstly, they will know how to professionally restore the item, so that your investment and the future value of the antique piece is either better protected or increased.
You also need to be realistic about your own capabilities. It is a lot easier to strip and apply paint than it is to repair a piece or fix up any dents or scrapes.
If you plan on hiring a professional:
- Make sure you ask to see pictures of any past work. A good professional should have a portfolio of their previous work. If they don’t, it may be best to look elsewhere.
- Their past work should also be similar to what you want to be done. Just because they’ve painted a table, it doesn’t mean they’ll know how to restore a 100-year old chair or buff scratches out of a period-piece bureau.
- Get an upfront price. It is reasonable for the price to go up or down a little, but for the most part, a good furniture restoration professional will be able to give an accurate quote for the project.
Antique furniture restoration can be an incredibly rewarding project, whether you do it personally or hire a professional. You can turn a neglected piece into something both usual and valued and even make some money in the process. So, scour your local antique stores, unearth a gem for a fair price and start planning. You never know what you’ll end up with at the end.