If your home is blessed with interior woodworking, you will want to make sure that the woodwork not only looks great, but also increases the beauty and value of your home. Unfortunately, the wrong finish on wood can make it appear inexpensive, discolor the wood, and hide the beautiful grain. If the finish is uneven, streaky, or blotched, then you will definitely want to improve the appearance of your wood by refinishing it. Instead of hiring someone to complete this job for you, with a little preparation and hard work you can bring your wood back to its original beauty yourself.
Check and Strip the Old Finish
Your first step is to make sure you know what kind of finish you are working with, and you can easily determine this by rubbing some of the wood with denatured alcohol. The stripper you will use will depend on the type of finish on the wood, so you need to know if you have an oil-based polyurethane or water-based polyurethane finish. Once you know, then you can apply the right stripper, let it sit for fifteen minutes, and watch for it to turn dull. Using a dull scraper and gloves, carefully remove the stripper and expose the beautiful wood grain.
When you need to work in small crevices and around intricate carvings, use a toothbrush that can easily get into those spaces to remove the stripper. Make sure that you are not pushing down too hard, as you want to remove the stripper without damaging the wood.
Seal the Wood
Before you add a stain to refinish the wood, it’s a good idea to seal the wood you are working on with a layer of shellac. First, rub the wood with steel wool dipped in denatured alcohol to remove any leftover shellac, then vacuum the wood and allow it to dry completely. Finally, pat on shellac with a piece of rag, covering the whole area.
Stain and Top-coat
After sealing the wood you need to brush on very thin coats of glaze or stain. Each coat will make the wood darker, and applying thin coats allows you to control the final color. It’s very important that you take your time during this step, as you do not want to darken the wood too much—just enough to bring out its natural beauty. After the stain has dried, apply a top coat varnish that will protect the stain from damage and keep the wood looking its best.
When you are going to refinish any wood in your home, it is important that you gather the right supplies before you get started. Make sure that you have enough stripper and stain so you don’t have to stop during the process to run to the store. Additionally, you will need gloves, paper towels and rags, and fans to keep the air moving. Proper ventilation is important for keeping you safe during your project, and will ensure that when you are done, you have freshly refinished wood that is beautiful and adds to the value and appearance of your home.