Furniture Refinishing 101: 5 Critical Steps to Care for Your Treasure

furniture refinishing

With so many people collecting antiques, it’s really important to know how to care for these beautiful pieces.  As an interior designer, each year I’m required to take continuing education classes to stay current with the industry and to keep my certification.  One of the classes that I chose to take this year was Furniture Refinishing 101.

Though I knew very little about the topic, I soon realized that what I was learning needed to be shared with my clients and readers.  We started with these 5 critical steps. 

1. Know your finish

  • Waxed – Wax every three months
  • Lacquered – Wax every six months
  • Oiled Varnish – Periodic oiling

2. Clean with a damp cloth – Never, EVER use a furniture polish like Pledge on any of your wood furniture as it will cause a film build up on the piece.

3. Buff and use “elbow grease” – Rub with the grain.

4. Wax will make a huge difference

  • Spray wax can be used as often as you like. It has bees wax in it.
  • Paste wax is even better – Put the wax on in a thin layer, and then pull it off as you buff. Remember to keep turning the rag to a clean area.

paste wax


5. Repairs – Don’t do anything for damaged wood! Find a repairman.

Ring marks:

  • Dry the area and let the mark dissipate on its own (if you caught it before it dries)
  • Dry the area and let the mark dissipate on its own (if you caught it before it dries)
  • Rub the area with turpentine
  • Wax over the whole area
  • Call for help!


  • Use a touch up stick – Start with the lightest color and work your way up


  • Wax over the whole area.

Your wood furniture pieces will stand the test of time if they’re well cared for.  Soon they’ll be destined to become your family heirlooms.