How to Restore the Shine to your Furniture
We all want to have beautiful furniture for years. However, over time the shine loses intensity and we must find smart ways of bringing our furniture back to life. Providing our home with varnished woodwork will totally change its appearance. However, this type of wood requires special care, and cleaning it is not as simple as it seems. If you want to make sure that you’re going everything you can to restore your furniture’s shine, adhere to some of the following tips as well.
Identify an old finish
You cannot restore your furniture’s shine if you don’t understand its type of finish. When it comes to restoration, the only important distinction is between three natural finishes: lacquer, varnish, and shellac. Paint and enamel finishes are very easy to spot, while wax and oil can be identified by the lack of high gloss and by touch. Fortunately, these finishes only need reapplication.
If you want to identify a finish, test it with denatured alcohol. All you have to do is apply some alcohol on a piece of cloth and rub it on a finished spot. If the surface turns rough first but smooth afterwards, it’s a sign that you’re dealing with a shellac finish. If the area gets partially dissolved, the finish is probably a combination between lacquer and shellac. Sometimes alcohol brings no changes to the finish, and you may have to test it with a little lacquer. If the area turns bumpy and then flat, the finish is lacquer, and if it crinkles without becoming flat, it’s probably varnish.
1. Try cleaning the furniture – this is the easiest method of restoration
Beat-up finishes are seldom a problem, since they’re usually caused by dirt. Even if you take care of your furniture, its surface can still acquire a sticky coating caused by dust and wax. Most of the times, you can get rid of this coating by using a commercial wood conditioner/cleaner that contains oil. These cleaners can be purchased from supermarkets, paint stores or furniture stores, and they’re able to remove sticky coating by cutting through both wax and dirt layers.
Read the instructions found on the cleaning product, then apply it using a soft cloth and leave it there for a couple of hours. Make sure to use another cloth for wiping off the cleaner, and repeat the process until the wood is lustrous and clean. Even though you may need to apply the cleaning product several times, the effects will definitely be worth the effort.
Sometimes, commercial conditioners may not be as effective as you want. If you happen to be in this situation, you should try removing the sticky coating with a solution made of liquid detergent and warm water. However, make sure that you act quickly; you should neither soak the furniture, nor pour solution over it. Once you’ve cleaned the furniture, all you have to do is remove the detergent using water and dry the wood using a towel or a soft cloth.
The wood should be dried completely. If you notice hazes on the finish, you can remove them using steel wool. All you have to do is buff the affected area lightly, apply commercial conditioner and then buff the wood surface once again.
Another method of restoring a wood surface implies using a solvent. Solvent cleaning is the last option you should use, since it can bring damages to the finish. Turpentine and mineral spirits can be used on most of the finishes, while denatured alcohol is effective on lacquer or varnish. Make sure you don’t use alcohol on shellac, and try to work only in well-ventilated areas, preferably outdoors.
Take good care of your furniture
Wood should always be protected from liquids, including alcohol, cosmetics, food and water, since they can leave stains on the surface. Try to make sure that the wood is not affected by dirt or dust, in order to avoid situations in which the surface gets grimy. The best part is that both smudges and dust can be easily removed using a dry cloth, while soiled surfaces can be cleaned with pieces of cloth soaked in a mixture of warm water and mild soap.
About the author: John Smith enjoys writing about how to restore the shine to your furniture and other topics dealing with home decor.
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Feature images courtesy of John Smith.