20 Furniture Restoration Questions Answered

Furniture Applique Picks From Hersite Blog

D Lawless Hardware Furniture Appliques

If you have a love of furniture and painting like I do, there are those common questions that everyone asks when they get their hands dirty with furniture restoration.  If you are new to painting, sanding, stripping, then these questions and answers may save you some leg work, time and frustration. Along the way, experts in the field have opened up their expertise and given what they feel works, and what they would recommend.

Question :  “Where do you buy your wood details to put on furniture ?”

  • Morey Curtis Dunbar  uses Bomar Designs
  • Peggy Meidinger uses D Lawless Hardware, as they have awesome prices, fast service, quality merchandise. She buys all her appliques and hardware from them.
  • Andie Pauly suggests Bomardesigns.com, and decoratorssupply.com for beautiful appliques.
  • Emil Weiss says Ball and Ball in PA makes molds from existing pieces and re-creates all kins of brass, so if a chest of drawers is missing one handle you could get another made, but I tend to avoid missing piece items, as making a mold is $$$. ballandball.com
  • Affordable French Furniture Appliques – Hersite
  • Hard To Find Furniture Parts On Ebay Hersite
  • Swedish Plaster Medallions- The Swedish Furniture
  • Ornamental Furniture Molds From Top Quality Moldings- Hersite
  • Decorative Ormolu- The Swedish Furniture
  • Architectural Castings And Molds- Architectural Salvage
  • Using Amazing Mold Putty to make your own appliques, or copies of antique appliques- Hersite

Question:  “Do you have any other ways to advertise and sell your furniture, than craigslist, facebook and online yard sale sites?”

  • Erica Cartner says that “Instagram” has helped her in the past. She started posting on instagram and the right hash tags are bringing in a lot of followers and interest.  Using tags like #paintedfurniture is a big one.
  • Sue Miller suggests hosting home sales.  Her first sale she invited other ladies to set up in my yard that drew a lot of shoppers.   She stages items, and posts on the local garage sites 2 wks in advance to draw a new customer following.

Question:  “I am three hours in sanding a table top and have made no progress.  Is there an easier way of removing old varnish?”

  • Dawn Castleberry suggests using a course sandpaper at first.  Start with 80 then 100 then 220 to 320.  The 80 breaks thru stain ..raises the grain and once you get it all off then start going higher in grit till you get a smooth finish.
  • Julianna Parrish uses “Liquid Sandpaper”
  • LeeandKristi Jones  Switch from a vibratory sander to a orbital or belt sander.  Vibratory sanders are too much work
  • Ashley L. Hale says a belt sander will save a ton of time and aggravation.
  • Leslie Plavier Smith For tables with way too much gloss, use a stripper and then sand with an air tool sander. Working with a large compressor, and air tools, will save you a lot of time with stripping jobs.

Question:  “Shipping furniture….what is the best company to go with?”

  • Info With Shipping with Grayhound
  • Sonda Riley McEver says shipping with Greyhound was extremely easy.  They only take items under 100#s, took her y package to their doc, and unloaded it from her vehicle, weighed it and put it in the carrier cargo. She says she was in and out in 15 minutes.  
  • Sonda Riley McEver  also suggests working withYellow Freight.  yrc.com  She said they set her up with a small business account and a personal rep. For larger pieces she found it was by far more cost effective than shipping services, UPS, FedEx or USPS.  Her heavy piece of furniture was only $165 to ship 700 miles, compared to the next closest quote of $550. They ship to Canada, any US territory, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Guam, and also offer white glove door-to-door too.  Door to door is available, and you can also ship to a terminal, which can give your client quotes on terminal vs home delivery.
  • Diane Llewellyn Grover says you can also apply for a small business account with UPS

Question: “Does anyone know of a product such as a powder or dust to add antiquing to furniture pieces? Some use actually dirt for this method”

  • Toni Zanandrea says that Pure Earth has antiquing powder that works along these lines
  • How To Use Cece Caldwells Aging Dust- Youtube
  • How to use Maison Blanche’s Le Dirt Antiquing Dust. This episode covers the basics of waxing, adding the Dirt, dusting, and buffing – Youtube
  • Mandi Ann Marrs suggests a product called Rottenstone- which is a cheap alternative to “aging dust” Several paint brands sell this to go along with their paints and it’s usually a bit pricey. You can buy this product on Amazon 

Question: “Is there any home mixed substitute for mineral spirits? I need to clean a waxed brush and am all out of mineral spirits”

  • Carol Jamison Muzzey says Dawn dish soap is good! She says she does not wash her wax brushes after every use.  Some painters never wash their waxing brushes.  She says that Murphy’s oil soap is good too.
  • Judi Andersen Turner says Murphy’s oil soap breaks down wax
  • MaryAnn Stephens says to use either mineral oils or *wesson cooking oil* to clean a brush after waxing
  • Barbara Dyess suggests that if y0u cannot wash them at once, wrap in foil to keep the brush soft.

Question: “I have some old drawer pulls that are a mess, and hope to clean all the dirt and junk off them. Does anyone have suggestions on what would work best?”

  • Dump your hardware in a crock pot, and let them sit overnight on high heat.
  • Margaret Thompson says soak in tomato ketchup.
  • Kristin Doughty says ketchup did a great job for her for removing everything. She just left it overnight, and she was amazed at the black gunk that came off!
  • Maggie Williams says Krud Kutter or Bar Keepers Friend works the best for her.
  • Claudette Brozzo says to boil them in baking soda for 15 to 30 minutes. You will be amazed how well they turn out.
  • Chasity Jones DeGroat says to boil them in vinegar and water.
  • Luann Benson Carlson says she cleaned some solid brass handles in vinegar and the dirt and tarnish came right off!

Question:  “What’s a great protective top coat that gives zero shine?? Is there such thing?”

  • Jorie Short Zakutansky says she uses “Varathane Matte Finish“.
  • Alicia Holland Zieman says she uses “Rustoleum Matte, water based polyurethane
  • Colleen Carter Madigan says Shabby Paints VAX is matte finish and is so easy to apply.
  • Carriage House uses “Ce Ce Caldwell’s matte finish” You won’t know it’s on your paint.
  • Bevin Marchetti uses “Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish”
  • Lisa Ann Edwards O’Rourke uses “Dead flat“! Zero shine!
  • Deborah Roberts Dickman uses “Polyvine Dead Flat Finish”

Question:  “How do you remove a bad musty stench from an old piece of furniture before painting?”

  • Diana Dahlem says she has used unscented kitty litter in a container inside each drawer, which absorbs the odor. This process takes about a week. Once the smell is gone add a scent to it with lavender oil.
  • Ann Von Holten suggests to shellac the whole piece, then paint.
  • Cheryl Breslin suggests using charcoal in the drawers, as it will absorb the odor.
  • Kara Roberts says some odors are so strong that it is hard to get rid of them.  She uses primers like Zinsser.
  • Dianna Oswalt uses coffee grounds.  Simply put unused coffee grounds in for about a week after cleaning it out.
  • Gina Leehy says to wipe it down inside and out with ammonia, then fill a bowl with cotton balls with ammonia. Set the bowl inside of the piece for several days. Be careful to use a respirator when using this technique.
  • Debbie Andresen-Collopy says for musty wood, wash it down with pinesol and hot water, or vinegar, dawn, and hot water. Let it dry, strip the finish off, stain, and poly.

Question: “I’m wondering if anyone has figured out an easy way to paint spindles? I’m painting a chair now and the spindles on the back are driving me crazy”

  • Spray painting spindles works out the best.  Either a paint sprayer, or spray paint saves you time than hand painting.
  • Michelle Elkins Langlois says she puts on a plastic glove, then puts a thick sock on and paints with the spindles with the sock.

Question:  “What is the best free professional app to use to re-sell furniture?”

  • Mary Cissick Insana  uses the app, “Collage” which allows her to layer pictures in one frame. There’s another app called Photo Lab where you can easily add words.  You can label the pictures with height and width of pieces including arrows showing direction of measurements.
  • Cheryl Carson uses “Picsart”, which is very easy and great to use for collages.
  • Donna Peisel uses “Imikimi” and “Phonto”
  • Mel Kay uses “Picsart”, which allows her to watermark pictures and edit/crop.  Mel Kay, says she also uses “flipagram” to create videos with images.  This app is great because you can set speed, put text on pictures and even add music. You can edit photos so they zoom in on the right spot for each picture. If you used watermark pictures you can put them together to play as a video.
  • Brenda Pelkey uses “Photogrid”, which also allows you to add words and watermarks as well

Question : “What’s a good paint to buy if I’m making my own chalk paint?”

  • Chasity Jones DeGroat says if she is making her own, she works with Valspar
  • Laurie Sensenig says she uses Sherwin Williams paints for mixing her own chalk paint. The samples come in satin and are only $8 a quart.
  • Jen Brooks says to avoid using Sherwin Williams, (Color To Go) as they do not have elasticity or bonding agents in them and are not recommended for stand alone use. Basically the samples are only a tint formula in a suspension.
  • Rudy Gunneson-Poling suggests using 1 part baking soda to 2 parts latex paint.

Question- “I am trying to remove veneer from a dresser, but it won’t come off…  Is there any easier way to do this? “

  • Chasity Jones DeGroat suggests using a damp towel and hot iron. Simply place the towel on top for 15 minutes then steam iron in sections and use putty knife and it will come of.
  • Michelle Franz Grisham says her heat gun works wonders on removing veneer.
  • Kathi Brown Wright suggests using a super wet rag which can be placed on the veneer for a few hours and veneer peels right off, with no ironing!
  • Kathy Ganze uses a hammer and a putty knife.  Wedge your putty knife under the veneer, and hit the back of the putty knife with a hammer, and it will ease the veneer off.

Question – “Can anyone recommend a great sprayer?”

  • Sandie Biggie says she loves her Campbell Hausfeld HVLP sprayer
  • Alchemy Fine Living put together a great video called “How To Paint A Dresser In High Gloss Using A Paint Sprayer” here
  • Amanda Harrison says she uses a HVLP sprayer from Harbor Freight

Question: “For those of you who load up on furniture pieces for resale, …..where so you find all your goodies??? “

  • Susan Pierce  says she finds her pieces at yard sales through the spring and summer.  She passes out her business cards that have what she is looking for with her name and number on them.
  • Angie Boudewyns Isaac suggests that if you have a local FB swap & sell group, you should join one. She finds a lot of her great pieces through there, as well as yard sales and thrift shops.
  • Jo Puchrik Scarpino suggests to link up to freecycle.org.  Anything and everything is posted and it is free. You just never know what may be listed.
  • Linda Topel says shopping at Estate sales through estatesales.net is a great place to find weekly furniture sales.  As a bonus, the last day of the sale is usually 1/2 off .
  • Linda Putnam Wegleitner  says auction sales are the best in her area.  Also she suggests not to discount the city wide cleanup day.  Often times free items will be sitting on the curbs around town, and you never know what people are willing to get rid of.

 Question : Where do you buy feet for furniture?

  • Laure Pegoda says Home Depot is where she goes for furniture feet.  They have round bun feet in different sizes.
  • Linda Honeycutt Moyer says that Lowes has a few varieties of furniture feet in their lumber department.
  • Leanne Gilvear-VanLeeuwen says she uses curtain rod finials from Hobby Lobby
  • Lori Canepa Dendy says that you can save money and find buy furniture that you can use parts at thrift stores.  Furniture feet can get pretty expensive…

 Question: Is there a way of getting the embossing look on furniture for less?

  • Susan Rowles suggests using “Fusion Embossing Paste”.  She uses stencil then uses the paste over the stencil and smooths it out with a plastic spatula.  This technique produces great results for her
  • Mary Cissick Insana says that Maison Blanche carries a product called “Glacage Embossing Crème
  • Kristie M. Ball suggests using the ” Dap” brand of vinyl spackle.  She says to simply scrape the spackle onto the stencil, and says it works better than any other plaster or spackle on the market.
  • Lisa Herbst DeSantiago says she uses sheet rock mud all the time and it produces great results.
  • Staci Porter Yokum suggests that Wood Icing is another similar product that gives the embossing look.
  • Debbie Davis said she produced a similar look with her scrap-booking using an embossing heat gun, however never has attempted using it on furniture. Interesting idea!
  • Lisa Herbst DeSantiago  has tried this technique with sheet rock mud and wood icing, and suggests to get a board and practice.   She says by practicing the technique, you can then figure out how thick/thin you’re comfortable with.   When you pull the stencil up/off you’ll have some thicker/thinner spots, which need sanding to take down the high points.

Question: Painting a medium size dresser, do you think the pint size General Finishes (sample size) will be enough?

  • Sherri Regenscheid says it does go a long way….you should be able to paint 2 dressers with it.
  • Mary Cissick Insana says a pint goes a long way. She painted a small dark table with 3 coats of antique white and only used about 1/4 of the pint.

Question: “How do you all come up with pricing; to paint something someone already owns? Any helpful advice?”  

(Names are left out of the original comments”

  •  “I feel that you can make more money doing commission work than buying and selling pieces.
  • I quote labor plus supplies. Much easier to have people calling you to paint a piece then spending time looking for pieces to buy. Plus the customer knows what they want instead of us having to guess what to paint a particular piece so it will sell. I have noticed you could be charging people to paint their piece the same price your charging for the pieces your finding for resale.”
  • “I just get the customer to send me a picture and tell me what they want. I then think how much it will cost and use up etc.”
  • “You know it’s really hard to price. Every piece is different, different structure, your painting technique, how clean or dirty the piece is, what prep work if any, travel time, etc….. I haven’t really sent a price per hour. I like to quote the customer per piece. I have found in the 13 years of painting that I have never charged enough. But I take pride in what I do and it’s not all about the $$$$. People tell me all the time I should raise my prices. However with that being said I tend to try and make about 150-200$ a day.”
  • “I’m in the middle of Kansas, and I charge $20-$25 an hour plus paint. I cant charge more than that in this town. Just depends on where you live.”
  • “I think everyone is different. I am happy if I can average around $25 an hour. I then estimate how long I think a project will take me. I charge them cost of materials plus the hourly rate. I am finding that I might have to start estimating more time because I have been low on estimating lately.”
  • “I do a written quote, writing down the specifics that the customer wants, colors, details etc and have them sign it. I take 1/2 upfront and then the other 1/2 when the job is complete. That way I am not fronting any money for supplies”

Question: “Transferring techniques for dummies: If I have Kinko’s print something off I can transfer it? Does it matter what ink they use etc?”

  • Jacqui Lemmon says the ink has to toner based if you are going to do a solvent transfer. Toner is like a powder that heats up and is printed onto the paper. Solvent will disolve it so that it transfer to wood/paint.
  • Karen Heath suggests laser copies work the best
  • Mindy Hunt Harrell suggests using a transfer medium through Harrell Art Group
  • “Citrasolv…works as a transfer medium.  The orange oil is what does it.  It can be found at your local grocery store”
  • Orange Oil Transfer- Video on Youtube
  • A Citra Solve Image Transfer to Fabric- Youtube
  • Margie Beasley Warmath White says she tried the orange oil method, and it worked ok but I still prefer the liquitex transfer method. The technique is more work but results were better for her.  Hobby Lobby carries Liquitex products, or any art supply store for that matter.
  • Image Transfer Tutorial Part 2- The Paint Factory
  • Image Transfer Tutorial Part 2 –The Paint Factory
  • Image Transfer Tutorial Part 3 –The Paint Factory
  • Transferring with Freezer Paper- You will need freezer paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, spray adhesive, ink jet printer and your imagination. Cut a piece of freezer paper a bit larger than your standard-sized paper. Spray your paper with spray adhesive and lay on the “paper side” of your freezer paper leaving the waxy side exposed. Trim the excess freezer paper using scissors. You now have a “reusable” sheet of transfer paper for all your projects. Read more about this on Home Frosting Blog

Other Articles Of Interest: 

15 Ways To Save Money On Furniture – Her Site

Green Painted Antique Furniture – Her Site

Gustavian Style – Her Site

The Best Furniture Guide Covering 3000-Years Of … – Her Site

What We Are Not Being Told About Furniture Strippers-Hersite

20 Seasoned Designers Reveal Their Best White Paint-Hersite

Staining And Re-Finishing Furniture- 40+ Pro Tips – Her Site

How Decorate With French Empire Antiques – Her Site

Readers Digest’s Milk Paint Recipe – Her Site

Swedish Gustavian Reproduction Furniture- The Swedish Furniture

5 Faux Wall Painting Techniques That Are Easier Than You Think -The Swedish Furniture

Superior 18th Century Reproduction Furniture- The Swedish Furniture