How to Rescue Old Furniture: A Guide

How to Rescue Old Furniture: A Guide


If you follow design trends, you’ve probably noticed that refurbishing old furniture has been enjoying a popular comeback lately. These days, “vintage” is all the rage, whether that applies to clothing, accessories, decor, or even toys and games.

Of course, beyond popularity, the process of refurbishing furniture has many benefits, including:

  • It’s sustainable: Known as “upcycling,” refurbishing old furniture means you generate less trash and do not have to rely on a company to produce a new product, which cuts down on environmental waste.
  • It’s cheap: While you’ll still need to spend some money on supplies and paint, refurbishing an older piece is definitely more cost-effective than spending money on something brand new.

If you’re thinking of pulling out that old table or chair from the attic and adding a new touch, we are here to help. We recently held a Rescuing Old Furniture 101 course, where participants learned how easy it is to rescue old furniture with One Step Paint. We also offer Color Consultations and Color Matching as part of our services, and our staff are always willing to help you make the best decision.

In the meantime, you can follow this guide below, which explains how to rescue old furniture:

Step 1: Cleaning: As with any paint project, the first step is to clean your older piece so that there is no dirt or grime that will cause impurities in the refurbishment process. Give everything a good wipe-down with a wood-friendly cleaner and be sure you’ve dusted all the nooks and crannies.

Step 2: Repairing any cracks:The refurbishing process involves more than just a paint job — you’ll also want to remove any deformities that have occurred over time, in order to make the piece whole again. Give the piece a thorough inspection, and use wood putty to fill in the cracks, before lightly sanding it down so the surfaces become smooth. If an area is deeply stained or has a lot of damage, you’ll need to sand it down before you begin painting.

Step 3: Painting:To paint your piece, we recommend using Amy Howard’s One Step Paint, which does not require you to sand, strip or prime the surface before you apply a coat. We know that the refurbishment process is environmentally-friendly, so we feel confident in recommending this brand of paint to you because it is 100% natural and has zero VOCs. This also means you can paint in your house rain or shine, and that you can use the paint on metal, plastic, already lacquered or shellacked furniture, glass, brick, brass, fabrics, and more.

To obtain optimal results from the One Step Paint, we suggest you keep the following tips in mind:

  • Shake, shake, shake! Make sure that you shake and stir the can of paint vigorously, given that it has a tendency to settle. A good stir will make sure the pigment is spread evenly throughout.
  • Choose your application method: With Amy Howard’s One Step Paint, you can use a variety of application methods, including a roller, paint brush or even spray can.
  • Bottom’s up! When painting furniture, it’s always best to start at the bottom and work up. This will reduce the likelihood of drips or streams of paint, which means you’ll reduce the time you need to spend on touch-ups.
  • Follow the grain: If you’re using a brush or roller, be sure that you follow the grain of the wood with your strokes. For very ornate pieces, we recommend that you use a paint brush to lightly “pounce” on crevices and details to ensure all surfaces are properly covered.
  • Keep it light: You will need to apply more than one coat, so keep it light the first time you apply the paint. Also, by using low amounts of paint on your brush, you’ll minimize the likelihood of runs that will require touch-up work later.
  • Sand it down: If you do find several runs, a light sanding and re-coating of paint is all you need for a fix!

Step 4: Adding the finishing touches: While you don’t have to seal Amy Howard’s One Step Paint, you may consider waxing the piece to give it an “aged” look. If you’re really craving that “vintage” appeal, this is the perfect step to make your table or chair look like a fine antique in minutes. When applying wax, you’ll want to use a light and dark wax together. Start by using the light wax first: Lightly cover the piece using a China bristle brush until you’ve achieved 100% coverage. Then, using a different brush, apply the dark wax to the places you would expect aging, such as the tops of the piece, around the hardware, legs, arms, etc.

The wax won’t take very long to dry — about five to 10 minutes, and even faster if you use a fan to speed up the process.

After everything is dry, use a low linnet rag to buff the piece clean.

Step 5: Enjoying your hard work: In just a single afternoon, you can take an old piece of furniture and give it an updated “vintage” look, making it the envy of all your friends and family. Not only is the process sustainable, it’s also much cheaper than buying a new piece of furniture and getting rid of the old.

If you enjoyed reading about how to rescue old furniture, or if you’re interested in learning more, please get in touch! By calling 919-553-3770 or emailing us at We look forward to hearing from you!


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