DIY: Refurbishing your ugly old furniture!

For the past few months, my parents have been renovating our home, every corner of it. So to go along with my newly renovated room, I, of course also had to have a new bedroom set (my old one stuck out like a sore thumb). The only problem was, being a new graduate and all, I simply couldn’t afford to shell out a few hundred/thousand, so I resorted to the next best thing, refurbishing my hideous bedroom furniture!

I’ll be honest, I’ve always wanted to take on a DIY refurbishing project, just to see if I could do it, or if I’d fail miserably…good news is, I DID IT! Since I think I did such an awesome job as a first timer, and since I think it was super duper easy to do, I thought I’d share with my readers, maybe one of you will be inspired to tackle a project like this yourself.

First, you’ll need patience and time. Oh, and you’ll definitely need space to do it in, I did mine outside in my garage. Of course you’ll need a piece of old furniture that you’re willing to experiment on and a few tools from your local hardware store. Might I add, that this project was relatively inexpensive overall, and the results were definitely worth the efforts.

I bought (almost) everything from Rona and Dollarama, you’ll need:

Dollarama:

  • Tarp and Tape (to protect the floor/ground in your work area) ~$3
  • Gloves (to protect your hands, I used rubber gloves) ~$1
  • Face mask (to protect yourself during sanding/staining) ~$1
  • Foam brushes (for reaching corners in furniture for even staining) ~$2

From Rona:

  • Fine Angled Sanding block (for sanding…) ~$4
  • Tack Cloth (to remove extra dust after sanding) ~$6
  • Satin Polycoat (an oil based top coat) ~$25

From Home:

  • Old Rag/Cloth (have these on hand to wipe anything that accidentally gets dirty!)
  • Old Socks (Put old/mismatched socks to use, best tool for staining!)
  • Screw Driver (to remove furniture hardware)
  • Ziplock Bag (to safely store furniture hardware)
  • Cleaning Wipes (to clean furniture prior to sanding)

Online:

  • General Finishes Gel Stain (Java color) ~22.50+tax+shipping= ~$38

I did some online research prior to staining and I found that General Finishes Gel stain (oil based) was highly recommended for this type of project. The only problem is its not sold in Canada (UGH!) so to cut my losses, I bought it online and it worked extremely well. They have a variety of colors (I used Java to get the dark black-brown color) and a little of this stuff goes a LONG LONG way (I did 2 night stands and a 6 drawer dresser and there was still some left over from a one quart tin). Here is the website I used, the only one that is in Canada and ships to Canada! – http://www.woodessence.com/-General-Finishes-Gel-Stains-P202.aspx – It’s only $22 for the quart, and it arrived faster than I thought, I recommend using that website if you decide to go with the same stain. Otherwise any other oil based stain should work…I hope. But I only promise the same results if you go with the same stain!

TOTAL amount for this project: ~$80     I’d say that beats buying a new bedroom set any day!

Some of the supplies!
Some of the supplies!

Alright, lets begin!

Here is the first piece of furniture I worked on. I know, its huge…and so very old fashioned.

My experimental victim
The subject of my lovely experiment

Step 1: Protect your work area. Lay out the tarp/clothes you have and tape them in place (if need be). You don’t want stain all over the place, its very hard to clean. I put out a tarp on the garage floor and used it for the cabinet doors and drawers.

Step 2: Remove hardware. Unscrew all the handles and hinges and put them in the zip-lock bag. Put these somewhere safe  if you intend to use them again! (I reused the hinges, but bought new handles for a sleeker newer look)

Step 3: Clean Furniture. Using cleaning wipes (or even just soap and water) clean the furniture off from any dust, grime prior to sanding.

Step 4: Sanding. Put on your sanding mask, your rubber gloves and get down and dirty. Literally. Using the angled sanding block, you want to make sure you sand the surface only to split up the topcoat/shiny layer. You don’t want to completely strip the wood or else this technique won’t work! Sand enough to break up the shine and create a rough surface so that the stain sticks, this shouldn’t take long at all. Each drawer took me about a minute, the cabinet doors took a bit longer due to the bevels, but overall it should be a quick process.

Step 5: Remove dust. Using the tack cloth, wipe off the newly sanded furniture to get rid of any leftover dust from the sanding process. This step will prep your furniture for the stain.

Step 6: First layer Staining. Let the fun begin! Before you start staining, make sure everything has been cleared out of the way and there is enough space to put wet/newly stained furniture to dry. (I stained the cabinet doors one side at a time, if you want to do both sides at the same time you can purchase painters pyramids from a hardware store). While staining, make sure to keep the foam brush and the extra rags handy (in case you need to wipe off excess globs of stain, or clean something off). To begin, keep your rubber gloves on and put the sock on over top. Dip the tip of your fingers into the gel stain and begin spreading it on the furniture. Be FRUGAL! Apply the stain in little amounts at first until you get a feel for how well it spreads and how much you can use to make an even first layer. The first layer will be SUPER light, and SUPER ugly. Don’t panic, just let it dry for 12 hours!

Why use a sock? Well, its easier than a brush, allows you better control in how much stain your using, and allows for even application of the stain. Ot also allows you to have a stroke-free application. I used the foam brush to get into the corners around the drawer but for the rest of the furniture, it was allll SOCK STAINING!

After the first layer...
After the first layer…

Step 7: Second Layer Staining. After anxiously awaiting the first layer to dry, you return for a second round of fun! I had so many mismatched socks (you know, those socks you put in the laundry as a pair and only one comes back) and ripped ones, so I used a new pair for each step. If your sock supplies are limited, make sure to put the sock you used in a plastic bag in between each step so it doesn’t dry up and stiffen from the stain because then you’ll have to throw it out! So, put on those gloves, and that old sock again and begin staining. Brace yourself, the second layer will look uglier than the first…allow this layer to dry for no less than 24 hours.

After the second layer!

Step 8: Third Layer Staining. One again, put on your glove, your sock, keep the foam brush and rags handy and stain away. Remember this is your final full layer, so make sure to apply an even amount of stain, reduce the amount of visible stroke lines and cover up any uneven tones. Take your time and make sure you have good lighting for this step, you don’t want to miss a spot! Allow the third layer to dry for at least 3 days.

After the third layer!
After the third layer!

Step 9: Touch ups. No matter how careful I was I found that there was always spots I seemed to miss. When the stain is wet it is shiny, and it can camouflage some spots and result in a few missed ones. Come back on the fourth day and do any touch ups you need, after all, you do want this to turn out perfectly so you can boast about it later! Let the furniture dry for another 2-3 days. If you can wait longer, it would be even better.

Step 10: Top coat. Also using a sock, albeit a new one, apply two layers of oil based topcoat, of course allowing for at least 12 hours of drying time in between each coat (read the label for the topcoat you buy). Make sure to spread evenly. The top coat will add shine to your furniture and protect the stain from chipping.

RECAP: first layer, 12 hours drying time, second layer, 24 hours drying time, third layer, 3 days drying time, touch ups, 3 days drying time, topcoat, 12 hours, topcoat, 12 hours.

Check out the transition!!!!!
Check out the transition! ❤

Step 11: Replace all the hardware and marvel at your masterpiece. YOU’RE DONE!

Before and After!
Before and After!

I also did my night stands…

nightstand before after
My night stands transitioning from ugly ducklings to swans.

This project is a perfect time filler. It is inexpensive, the labour is easy, and the results are spectacular, don’t you agree?

Some helpful tips include:

  • Lot’s of drying time. The longer the better. If you try applying stain and the stain hasn’t completely dried yet, you’ll end up spoiling the project and applying too much stain!
  • Removing globs. When staining, make sure to use the rag to remove any globs of stain it’ll ruin the overall texture!
  • Don’t pile on the stain, you won’t finish faster! Don’t be too cheap, and don’t be too generous when staining. Get a feel for how the stain spreads and use enough to cover each layer evenly, but not so much that its dripping and making big globs.
  • Word has it that this method does not work on bare wood. So DON’T DO IT!
  • My inspiration: http://www.monicawantsit.com/2012/02/staining-oak-cabinets-espresso-color.html
I love it!
I love it!
My nightstand
My nightstand

If you have any further questions leave a comment below! HAPPY STAINING!

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