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How to restore and paint an antique wooden furniture in 4 steps. Incredible change!

25 de October de 2021
Aparador antiguo restaurado - paint an antique wooden furniture

Restoring antique furniture – can anyone do it?

Restore and paint an antique wooden furniture is a lot of fun and, although it looks easy, it can go very deep and cannot be done really well without some training or, at least, some knowledge. You can polish an antique piece of furniture a bit and give it some touches to make it in a vintage style, and another to properly fix all the flaws of a piece of furniture from another era with frills and give it a perfect finish. There are real professionals who are dedicated to it.

We have to think that there is a whole specialty in the career of Fine Arts dedicated to restoration, apart from other higher studies. In my case, by restoring furniture and taking advantage of frames for my paintings I have been learning tricks, although the reality is that I have had two good references/advisors: one is my mother, who is a professional decorator and restorer trained at the School of Arts and Crafts of Barcelona and the Massana School (where I would be trained a few decades later), and the other has been an Italian restorer friend who had a lot of tricks and experience to give.

Before painting an antique wooden piece of furniture, as you will see, I carried out four steps in the restoration, after which I proceeded to paint the piece of furniture.

Restoring an antique sideboard

Mueble aparador antiguo para restaurar

I am going to show you how I restored and decorated in vintage style this antique sideboard that I found some years ago, in a street in the neighborhood of Poble Nou in Barcelona. So let’s go! Let’s see how to restore and paint an antique wooden furniture!

First step: remove woodworm from the wood

The first thing I did was to kill all the woodworm that was in the furniture using a product against woodworm. You can easily see if a piece of furniture has woodworm because you will see little holes like the ones in the photo below in different places of the furniture. There are usually several of them and they are round, from one to two millimeters in diameter.

Often in the furniture we find real tunnels with entrances and exits. If the tunnel is very long and has an exit, you will see it easily because when you spray the product against woodworm with the cannula, you will see that the spray you spray ends up coming out of some other nearby hole.

Anyway, the important thing is to make sure that the woodworm is completely dead. Many times the furniture has been attacked by woodworm years ago and now it does not suffer any more aggression, but we must make sure. Here you have a link to a product against woodworm:

tratamiento para eliminar carcomas

Once the product you are going to use to kill the woodworm has been applied, it is important to cover the furniture with plastic and leave it for three or four days. I know that these actions can be a bit tiresome, but prevention is better than cure. It doesn’t make sense to be in a hurry to paint an antique wooden furniture in a vintage style and then you find the unpleasant surprise that the woodworm was alive and has ruined other furniture in the house.

Second step: Clean the furniture

After removing the plastic, and before to paint an antique wooden furniture, it’s important to clean the furniture with a damp cloth with water and a little neutral soap to remove stains.

Third step. Paint an antique wooden furniture without sanding before: Is it advisable?

It is important to completely remove the varnish from the furniture with sandpaper if there is no longer much varnish (sometimes, the passage of time makes the varnish disappear almost completely from the surface and it is easy to remove), or using a paint stripper if it still has enough varnish. A paint stripper is a product that you can find in Drugstores and Hardware Stores and that you can apply with a brush or paintbrush on the furniture, to remove it later with a spatula together with the varnish, since the stripper and the original varnish end up joining in the same mass that is easier to remove.

When can you paint old furniture without sanding it first?

I would say that you can do it when it is evident that all the varnish of the furniture has been removed by the passage of time, or when the furniture itself has little importance and little value for you, you know that you are going to have it in transit in your house and you don’t want to invest a lot of time in it. But however little you can, it is good to sand it because you bring to the surface the soul of the furniture, polish impurities and open the pores of the wood to better absorb any paint.

Fourth step: plug the woodworm holes

You will also find furniture repair wax in large drugstores or hardware stores. There are as many waxes as types of wood (rosewood, pine, oak, etc) so it is worth trying to get as close as possible in the color of the wax if your idea is not to paint the furniture afterwards. In this case it doesn’t matter, because we are going to paint it. Besides, I was lucky because in this case the holes were underneath and could not be seen.

How to restore and paint an antique wooden furniture in vintage style

Now, let’s proceed to paint!

This is the color I used to paint the furniture. It is the “Tesoro” shade of Chalky Finish paint from Americana DECOR and, apart from other places, you can find it on Amazon:

In the photos you will also see that I painted over the handles. The truth is that I wasn’t particularly interested in keeping the original antique gold color of the handles, since they give it a bit of a rococo look that I don’t like. However, if I had wanted to leave them as they were, it would have been better to disassemble them and put them back when the cabinet was painted.

Anyway, and showing the finished piece of furniture in its final destination, I have not found a handle similar to the one that is missing and sooner or later, if I have to be with this piece of furniture for a long time, I will change all the handles.

The painting at the top, made by my grandmother, the painter Carmen Gandía, also had some modifications in the frame to be more in line with the furniture. It doesn’t make much sense to put a lot of effort into restoring and painting an antique wooden piece of furniture and then have a weak decoration on the walls. It is important to have good paintings to accompany you in the decoration of your home. In this sense, I must say that my specialty is oil painting, so I invite you to visit the section of original paintings.

Going back to the furniture, it really would have also looked good in white, but to break the dynamics a little (since we already have other vintage furniture in white) we decided to use this turquoise color.

Paint antique sideboard furniture in white vintage style

If your idea is to paint an antique wooden furniture, I tell you that the color white (or off-white pearl type, very light beige, etc) is really useful and used nowadays. Even if you look at catalogs of big companies like Maisons du Monde, a company whose elegant, retro, ethnic and rustic style has so many followers (among which I include myself), you will see that it uses a lot of white in many of its furniture.

White or light colors will never be aggressive, on the contrary, they will transmit calm and will also give more space and a feeling of spaciousness to your home than any other darker color. I often use these two colors of these two brands to paint white vintage style furniture. To paint an antique wooden furniture :