They say, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’ This couldn’t be more true of thrift store finds — especially furniture. Whether it’s a mid-century modern coffee table or a classic rocking chair, you’re bound to find quality second-hand wood furniture at your local thrift store or flea market. But what if you find a piece that speaks to you, but it needs a little TLC before you can use it in your home?
We are here to help you restore or refinish thrift store furniture with confidence, using our step-by-step guide below.
Setting up your DIY project.
Ready to refinish your thrift store furniture? Start with an open space for your DIY project. You need to have enough room for the furniture and all your equipment. You’ll also want it to be a climate-controlled but well-ventilated area, like a tented area in your garage or basement.
Next, you’ll need to gather supplies based on your vision and the current condition of your furniture. Will you need to fully strip and re-stain it or only rejuvenate it with a deep clean, and new wax finish? In any case, cleaning your furniture is the first step. From there, you’ll have a better idea of other needed supplies once it’s clean.
For furniture in good condition.
Step 1: Clean your furniture.
Get yourself some clean clothes and WOCA Natural Soap Spray or if you have a really large piece of furniture or multiple pieces use the concentrated version of WOCA Natural Soap, and dilute as directed. WOCA Natural Soap is a gentle and mild cleanser that conditions the wood surface.
Using warm water, mix your soap solution according to the directions and thoroughly clean your piece with a clean cloth using gentle strokes. If there are carvings and other details, you can use a paintbrush to get into those little nooks and crannies. Once your furniture looks clean, pat dry with a clean towel.
Step 2: Protect it with penetrating oils.
Sometimes, a coat of protective, penetrating oil is all you need to make your old furniture look new again. It’s great for things like chairs and dressers that need minimal protection. A wipe-on, wipe-off oil, like our Diamond Active Oil, is also easy to use and soaks into the wood to bring out the natural richness.
However, a fresh stain can only go so far. Stripping the old finish can help you strip damaged pieces and “start fresh,” but it requires more work and materials.
For heavily damaged furniture.
Let’s say your thrift store piece is more than a little used. You’ll need to thoroughly sand and strip the piece, so you can start over and preserve the wood after undoing its damage.
Step 1: Sand it down.
Use sandpaper or a power sander to strip and smooth the wood. Be sure to use 120-150 for the final sanding and ensure that all old stain, paint, or damaged edges are smoothed away.
Step 2: Clean your furniture.
Wash away any sawdust and ensure nothing is left behind by using our Intensive Wood Cleaner Spray. This will open the grain to ensure maximum penetration from future oil applications.
Step 3: Protect it with penetrating oils.
WOCA's Premium Penetrating Oil, Diamond Oil Active, offers a highly durable wood finish. Unlike other oils or stains, our penetrating oil is plant-based, water-resistant, and available in various colors.
Once your thrift store furniture is sanded and cleaned, using our Diamond Oil Active and:
- Shake the oil container well before and during use. With a paint brush or roller, apply an even coat of oil.
- Slowly polish the area with a red pad until the wood appears saturated.
- Leave the oil to penetrate for 10-15 min. If the oil soaks quickly into the wood, apply more oil.
- Polish off all excess oil using clean cloths. No excess oil should be left on the surface.
- After 6-8 hours, the woodwork can be treated with a second application of oil. Approx. 1-2 ounces of oil is poured on and polished into the wood with a white pad. Repeat until all woodwork is done. Polish/buff any excess oil from the surface with cotton cloths. No excess oil should be left on the surface.
- The furniture can be used with caution after 24 hours. Complete cure is 5 days in ideal conditions.
Trust WOCA Woodcare for your next thrift store project.
WOCA Denmark carries a variety of plant-based, VOC-free, and LEED-certified products for heavy-duty cleaning, maintaining, and finishing wood furniture and flooring. We are sure you’ll be pleased with your new thrift store finds — just always make sure to start with a thorough clean using our Intensive Wood Cleaner. You’ll be surprised how quickly your “old” furniture will look brand new.