Quick and Easy Furniture Refinishing Tips for a No-Stress Makeover

How many times have you passed up a cute little table on the side of the road or a bargain dresser at a yard sale because it didn’t match your decor or it needed a bit of work?

Furniture Refinishing (Pixabay)

Well, you’re not alone. While upcycling has become a very popular DIY in recent years, many people hesitate when it comes to refinishing furniture. They view it as complicated and time-consuming, or a project that requires a certain level of experience or expertise. Of course, none of that is true. There are actually many ways to transform your piece that don’t involve complicated stripping processes or intricate painting techniques. Getting a professional looking result can be easier than you think. With a few quick tips and tricks, making over that curbside find can be a stress-free pursuit. Whether you use oil to add shine or chalk paint that requires almost no prep, for a full makeover or a traditional stain on freshly sanded wood we’ve got you covered with these quick and easy refinishing tips.

Refinishing Wood Furniture

There are many different DIY ways to refinish wood furniture. While there are some basic steps involved in the process, many of the specifics will vary based upon the technique you choose and the furniture refinishing products you use, but it all starts with prep.

Prep Steps

For the best results, you should always start with proper prep.

Clean Your Furniture

The first step in any refinishing project is to clean your piece. You want to make sure that it’s free of any dust or debris that might get stuck in the paint. You also want to make sure there isn’t anything sticky or slick on the surface that would cause paint or stain to bead away. If you’ve chosen a method that requires you to sand your wood down first, this step may not matter as much, but in general, you want a clean surface when you begin.


If you decide to go with a refinishing process like staining, or you want to remove the current finish because it’s chipping, you’ll need to sand. It’s also a necessary step if your furniture has gouges or deep scratches that need to be smoothed. Sanding can be done after a chemical stripper is used, but it’s also a great alternative. Hometalker Patricia used an orbital sander to remove thick oil paint from an antique dresser. She didn’t like working with gloppy strippers, so she donned her eye protection, grabbed an orbital sander, and removed the original finish in no time. 

How to Refinish Furniture (Patricia)

See post: Patricia|Quickly Remove Old Paint from Furniture


Filling Broken Spots

Next, you’ll want to fill in any spots where the wood is cracked, where there are holes, or where the veneer is missing. Simply apply a bit of wood filler in the space with your finger or a putty knife and allow it to set. When fully dry, sand the excess filler away and you’ll be ready for paint or stain. 

Refinishing Wood Furniture (Choochi Pearson)

See post: Choochi Pearson|Furniture and Refinishings


Easy Refinishing Techniques

From simple recipes to bring back shine in older wood, to paint tutorials that will totally transform your piece, you’re sure to be inspired by these easy DIY methods.


Quick Refinishing with Two Ingredients

Sometimes all it takes to restore wood is a little polish. If you’re content with the color and general condition of your piece, a gentle wash with a vinegar and oil solution may be enough to make a difference. Just wipe on equal parts of both with a soft rag, let it sit and soak into the wood for ten minutes or so, and then buff away the residue. The shine will return and the scratches and scuffs will fade away, simple, quick, and easy.

How to Refinish Wood Furniture (Lindsey)

See post: Lindsey|Refinishing Wood Furniture

Refinishing Old Wood with Coconut Oil

Another way to restore the beauty of old wood and add a little bit of color is to give it a coat of coconut oil. Just sand the table to remove any paint or varnish, clean the surface so it’s free of debris, and rub the coconut oil onto the dry surface with a rag. Buff off the extra with circular motions and seal the piece with a coat of wax. The oil will “stain” the wood, restoring it to its rich former self. It’s a natural, chemical-free way to refinish wood that the whole family can take part in.

Refinishing Wood with Coconut Oil (2 Little Superheroes)

See post: 2 Little Superheroes|Refinishing Old Wood with Coconut Oil

Chalk Paint

Chalk paint has become very popular in recent years and with good reason. It’s a versatile finish that can be applied to almost any surface and directly over old stain or paint, without sanding or stripping. It tops our list as one of the easiest ways to refinish furniture since requires almost no prep - just wipe down the wood and start painting. It can be easily distressed with a little spot sanding and can be brushed or sprayed on, depending on your piece of furniture. Spray paint works great on spindled chairs, for example. As a final touch, chalk paint can be sealed with wax or varnish, but again, it’s not necessary. It’s a one-step solution if you so choose. 

Refinishing Furniture with Chalk Paint (Carrie @ Kenarry: Ideas For The Home)

See post: Carrie @ Kenarry: Ideas For The Home|How to Refinish Furniture with Chalk Paint

Salt Wash Paint

Salt wash paints are heavily textured. They are a great option for pieces that are pitted or damaged, as the rough application conceals any imperfections in the wood and it looks fabulous in a cottage style room. It can be used with any paint in flat, satin, or gloss, since it’s an additive. Sassy Townhouse Living refinished an old scratched table by sanding off the old varnish and applying several coats of salt wash in varying hues of green. When the paint was dry, she lightly sanded any very high or rough spots. The result is a sophisticated table that didn’t cost a fortune or take days to create. 

Salt Wash Paint for Furniture (Sassy Townhouse Living)

See post: Sassy Townhouse Living|Transform Your Furniture from Boring to Soaring with Salt Wash

Simple Decorative Painting Technique

Looking for another decorative painting technique that’s deceptively simple to refinish an older piece? By layering chalk paint, dyed wax, accent paint, and stencils you can create an elegant table that rivals those featured in high-end shops. To start, this table was given two coats of chalk paint. When the paint was thoroughly dry, a black wax was added on top and buffed off. The wax deepened the tone of the paint and sealed it as well. Next, a bit of gold paint was brushed onto the edges and corners for interest with a brush. Lastly, stenciled patterns were added with the same gold paint and a sponge. While there are a lot of steps involved in this process, they certainly aren’t complicated and refinished wood never looked so good. 

Painting Furniture (Joanne Diamond)

See post: Joanne Diamond|From Boring to Moroccan


Hopefully, with these simple methods on hand, you’ll never have to pass up another thrift store or yard sale treasure again. You’ll be able to refinish that furniture with the confidence of a pro and have it done in no time at all. Whether you give it a simple coat of chalk paint, a quick wash with vinegar and oil, or a completely fresh look with a stain, you’ll have a brand new piece of decor you’re sure to love for years to come.

If you’re looking for even more furniture refinishing tips and tricks or inspiration ideas, come join Hometalk’s DIY community. If you have your own makeover you’d like to share, we’d love to see it. Become a Hometalker and post it today!

Written for the Hometalk community by: Kim | Exquisitely Unremarkable

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