How to Prepare Antique Furniture to Sell

January 21, 2020 - Antiques, Art and Collectibles

You know that old wooden chest that’s been collecting dust in your attic for decades?

With a little TLC and effort, it could be worth money! Furniture is a great item to resell, especially antique furniture.

You could sell it as-is, but a little elbow grease can go a long way to ensuring you make the most money when you resell.

Keep reading for our step-by-step tutorial on how to refinish antique furniture.

Before you start, an important note: Keep in mind that some of the products needed for this project are harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals. We suggest wearing a respirator and gloves. Always work in a well-ventilated area and follow all directions on the product containers.

Step 1: Start with the Right Piece

If you aren’t an expert woodworker or an especially adept handyperson, be selective with the items you decide to refinish. Consider the time and effort each piece will demand. This is an important consideration when the plan is to resell.

Unpainted wood is ideal, but many older pieces may already have two or three coats of paint. Removing that paint can be time-consuming. Anything that is very intricate or large will obviously require more time and elbow grease.

Avoid choosing to refinish antique furniture that needs extensive repairs. A loose screw or a missing knob is one thing, but avoid picking anything that has splitting in the wood, missing or cracked legs, or other structural issues.

If the piece has upholstery, determine whether that will need to be redone when deciding if you want to tackle it or not.

The time, effort, and money that it will take to repair the larger issues (or outsource them to a pro) can easily eat up any profit you’ll get from reselling the items after they are finished.

Step 2: Clean and Strip

So you’ve picked the right piece of furniture to refinish — now the fun begins.

First, clean the piece to remove any grease or dirt. This can be done with mineral spirits and an old t-shirt or lint-free rag. Moisten your rag or t-shirt with a small amount of mineral spirits and wipe with the grain of the wood.

Follow this with a good rinse with clean water and give the piece a day to dry completely. Once dry, sand lightly with 150-grit sandpaper and wipe with a lint-free cloth to remove any dust.

If the piece is already painted or finished, you will need to strip it. Using a paste or liquid stripper, apply and let sit for the amount of time as suggested on the product’s label.

Once the stripper has sat as recommended, use a plastic putty knife to gently scrape it off. Steel wool can be used to remove stripper and old paint from rounded corners or carved areas. For getting old paint out of very fine recessed details, an old toothbrush or stiff-bristled paintbrush can help.

For stubborn paint, you may have to repeat this step.

Once the piece is completely stripped, clean it again. If you used a latex or water-based stripper, use water to clean it. If your stripper was solvent-based, use mineral spirits. Allow the furniture to dry completely.

Step 3: Sand and Refinish

Once your furniture is completely stripped, you’ll want to give it a good sanding. Sand with the grain of the wood and use increasingly fine grits until the piece is smooth. Wipe with a damp rag to remove any sanding dust.

Now, you can restain your furniture using the stain of your choosing. Using a rag, stain in the direction of the grain. Follow all directions on the product label and discard used rags safely and appropriately.

Allow time for the stain to dry completely. Then, stand back, admire your handiwork, and resell the piece for some profit!

If You Enjoyed this Post on How to Refinish Antique Furniture, Follow our Blog for More Great Tips

Your unused antiques can be a great source of income, especially if you give them a little TLC. In addition to tutorials on how to refinish antique furniture, our blog is a great resource for resellers.

Check out our blog today and start making money by reselling your dust-collecting antiques!

David Stiebel
David Stiebel

David Stiebel is one of the cofounders of PawnGuru. David was educated at MIT, where he studied Math. He subsequently worked at Bain as a data scientist before starting PawnGuru in 2015. He started PawnGuru to build a better tool for pawn shops and consumers to connect.

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