What is the best way to refinish an antique hutch?


I have a huge hutch that has been in my husband's family for many years. It's so old that the finish has turned very dark , almost black. Any ideas as to the best product(s) to use ?

  15 answers
  • The dark finish may be a result of years of being polished with wax. The wax can be removed with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. You could also try some Dawn dish soap, since it cuts grease. This may lighten the hutch enough for you.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Aug 18, 2020

    I would start with a thorough cleaning. Start with a wood safe degreaser. My favorite is GP66 but I've also had good results with Awesome and Mean Green. Use a non scratch pad like scotch brite (the green ones) or other that would be safe for a non-stick skillet) to scrub. Make sure you go with the grain of the wood.

    After cleaning, if you like the new color you can brighten with a nourishing wood oil like tung.

  • FrugalFamilyTimes.com FrugalFamilyTimes.com on Aug 18, 2020

    What is your goal for the finish? Natural? Painted? Can you share a photo?

    • Mrs H Mrs H on Aug 20, 2020

      I'd like it to be natural if possible. Thank you!

  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on Aug 18, 2020

    I agree to start with a hard core cleaning. I would suggest using TSP for this as so much of what is on older furniture is just straight up grease off of being touched a million times. After that it all depends on how you want it to look. You can always strip it with a paint stripper and then sand it back to bare wood and then you can choose any stain you might like!

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Aug 18, 2020

    I would remove all hardware then clean the hutch with Awesome ( a great product) and a non-scratch pad. go with the grain of the wood. This should remove all polish or wax. If the color is ok then I would recommend an oil, like pure Tung Oil.

    If the finish is still too dark then gently sand it down with a fine grit sand paper (220), wipe it down and stain with a color of your choice. Finish with polyurethane.

    • Mrs H Mrs H on Aug 20, 2020

      thank you ! Our local Home Depot carries this - I have several pieces I want to work on so I'll get some !

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Aug 18, 2020

    Hello. Without photographs or more information it’s hard to guess the direction you’re considering. Do you want to paint or do you want to stain?

    If you’re considering paint please consider popping by this bloggers website for her wonderful furniture rehabs. She details useful repair products, techniques and has a nice result. Many of her furniture items are from the thrift store or furniture pieces donated to her. She also has tips for removing furniture odors and how to treat the interior drawers. She obtains a lot of her hardware from Hobby lobby. Usually you can find a discount coupon for hobby lobby.

    Here’s a dresser that she recently completed will give you an idea of how to take challenged furniture pieces that need a bit of repair before painting. As well as including a link below of all of her projects and a gallery fashion.

    Best wishes with your furniture rehab.




    If you’re considering renewing stain finish I might consider poly shades.

    Here’s a link to look over the content and see if it’s a product that will meet your needs. It can be applied over existing existing poly finishes without any stripping or sanding. I find reviews and Q&A’s can often direct me towards the correct purchase. Hope this helps.



  • Nan W. Nan W. on Aug 18, 2020

    I'm a big fan of paint! Here's how I did it!


  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Aug 18, 2020

    Are you wanting to deep clean it then stain over it or paint it?

    here are a couple ideas for you



  • Cindy Cindy on Aug 18, 2020

    Hello. Begin with a good cleaning. You can make a solution of equal parts vinegar and water to clean it with. Next you can use a paint stripper (Citristrip is what I would recommend) to remove existing stain/paint. It might take a couple applications. Then sand it with a 220 grit sandpaper to get down to bare wood. Be sure to wipe all the sanding dust off of it. Then from there you can either paint or stain. Good luck with this project.

    • Mrs H Mrs H on Aug 20, 2020

      thanks for the advice ! I'll get some of this along with the cleaner mentioned above. I have several pieces I want to refinish so I think I'll start getting my supplies together !

  • Lauren of Mom Home Guide Lauren of Mom Home Guide on Aug 19, 2020

    I agree you should try to clean it -- the suggestions above are great! You could maybe then paint it with chalk paint. I painted an old oak standing jewelry chest with chalk paint by DecoArt, and I loved how it turned out: https://momhomeguide.com/chalk-painted-jewelry-chest/

  • Deb K Deb K on Aug 19, 2020

    Hello Mrs. H, I LOVE chalk paint for this, it is very forgiving with dents and dings as well, hope this helps you out,


  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Aug 20, 2020

    Hello Deb,

    If you like it dark, find out what wood it is and give it a wipe down and then a wax. If you want it lighter, you may be able to bleach it or sand it down and re-stain, or you may be able to use a lime wax on it., or you could paint it. Remember if you use Chalk Paint to Wax it after with either an antique wax or a clear wax. Best wishes.

  • I would use chalk paint. Lots of tutorials on Hometalk with chalk paint

  • Betsy Betsy on Aug 20, 2020

    Hi Mrs. H. The best thing I use to remove a finish, whether it be paint or a sealant, is Citristrip. It's very good and easy to use. Good luck