How do I get best finish on old furniture?


Have a couple pieces of old furniture I want to refinish. Do I strip & refinish or just sand first?

  15 answers
  • Citristrip will remove the old finish for you, then you can do the fine sanding before refinishing.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Oct 26, 2021

    Quite a bit depends on how you want to refinish.

    First make sure you do any repairs.

    Next I remove hardware and sometimes clean it up, paint it, or replace it. Make sure you put it all in a sealed container so that you don't lose any pieces.

    If you are going to paint, you can often just clean with TSP and then prime and paint. I do not like chalk paint for durability reasons (scratches easily) so this is the route I have gone for many years. If it has a glossy finish you can either use a deglosser or strip and then clean up.

    If you want to stain, you will need to remove top finishes. I like to use citristrip but make sure you don't let it sit too long and begin to dry. Scrape it away and many times you will have very little sanding or none at all. Then clean with denatured alcohol. Then you are ready for new stain and finish.

  • Annie Annie on Oct 26, 2021

    If you want to remove the old finish before refinishing, this information will help

  • Lindsay Aratari Lindsay Aratari on Oct 26, 2021

    You could strip and then paint or just use chalk paint which requires no sanding or stripping

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Oct 26, 2021

    Hi Rick

    Here is info for you've%20found%20that%20if,to%20sand%20down%20the%20piece.

  • Mogie Mogie on Oct 26, 2021

    If you refinish you will need to strip the furniture but chalk paint doesn't require that step. So the answer sort of depends on how what you plan to do with it.

    Learn how to refinish furniture faster and easier by avoiding stripping. A seasoned pro tells you how to clean, repair and restore old worn finishes without messy chemical strippers.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Oct 26, 2021

    Hello. It might depend on the degree of problems in your furniture. Is it significantly damaged chipped peeling dented crazed —-some more information might be useful. There are products like Polyshades that you can use rightover the existing finish if there’s no any significant deterioration in your furniture piece surface.

  • Janice Janice on Oct 26, 2021

    Citristrip is my go to product when refinishing wood pieces, then a fine sanding to really finish and smooth before finishing with new paint or clear sealer.

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Oct 27, 2021

    If you use Allinonepaint you don’t need to prep,strip,sand, just wash furniture with Murphy’s oil soap and then paint . That’s it

  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on Oct 28, 2021

    Hi there! If you don't strip it first you will be in for A LOT more sanding so normally I would suggest strip it first to save yourself sand paper and manual labor. After that you're ready to restain!

  • Here is a great video for stripping the furniture:

  • Homeroad Homeroad on Oct 30, 2021

    I use Fusion Mineral Paint on all the furniture I paint now. There is no sanding or stripping involved. You just paint it over the originally finish as long as there is no wax on your piece.

  • Em Em on Nov 01, 2021

    I see a lot of people here like Citristrip. I do not. Have used many strippers and find them extremely messy especially for multi layer paints that are not latex. Personally I like to use a sander for the large areas. (The mouse sander was the WORST purchase I have ever made-useless unless it is a tiny area you need to sand). Small belt sander is nice. If you want to use chalk paint you don't have to prep other than washing greasy fingerprints or dirt. 2 coats work great. If you are restaining you need to remove finish first.

  • Rick Dance Rick Dance on Nov 01, 2021

    Perfect, all my answers in one reply. Paint removal, stain removal & I'm liking that 2 coats of chalk paint.


  • Are they stained and you want to change the stain? If so, very few strippers will remove stain, if any at all. Even ones that say they will don't (I've tried). You'd need to sand to get back to the wood. If it's just painted, you can use a stripper or sand the paint off.