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    How to Refinish Furniture with an Antique Look

    When it comes to refinishing furniture, DIYers can quickly get lost amid the dozens-upon-dozens of finishing options. Stains and polyurethane, antique oil, varnish, paste wax—it can be tough to figure out what the right type of finish is for your particular piece of furniture.

    If you’ve ever purchased an old piece of pine or poplar furniture from a yard sale or flea market that’s caked with layer-upon-layer of ugly old paint, consider stripping the paint and adding an antiqued milk paint finish. Milk paint is an age-old recipe dating back a few hundred years that can still be purchased today through suppliers like the Old Fashioned Milk Paint company. It’s safe and easy to apply, if you follow the right steps. Better yet, you can use multiple coats of different colors to add layers of history to your piece of furniture and achieve a beautiful antique finish. The basic premise is to build several coats of various colors, then sand back to reveal the older colors beneath. This mimics a piece of furniture that’s been re-painted several times over the years.

    Here’s how to do it

    1) Choose Your Color Scheme
    Choose two to three different colors to achieve the antique milk paint finish. In this case, I chose a base coat of barn red and a top coat of black. You’ll want to apply two coats of each color for a more even, solid finish. Milk paint adheres best to raw wood, so don’t prime your piece of furniture. Use #0000 steel wool to smooth out the finish between each coat of paint.

    Notice how dull the finish looks at this point. Don’t worry, though, we’ll tackle that issue in a later step.









    2) Sand to Reveal Previous Paint Colors
    With your color scheme applied, now it’s time to get down to the brass tacks and achieve the antiqued effect. Using some fine, 400-grit sandpaper, I first give the entire piece a light sanding and then use my sandpaper to scuff through that top coat of black paint in those areas that would naturally see more wear and tear; the bottoms of legs and lower rails, knobs on doors (fingers will wear the paint down over time), even the framing components that surround the lower corners of a door (this area typically gets worn out when the hinges begin to sag and allow cabinet doors to contact the framing around them. Just be prudent with your sanding. The key here is to tread lightly. Too much antiquing will scream FAKE. Little really is more in this case.


    3) Steel Wool will Smooth it Out
    After you’ve achieved a suitable amount of antiquing with your 400-grit sandpaper, go back and rub the piece down with some #0000 steel wool. This step just helps to even out any fine scratch marks left behind by your sandpaper.






    4) Vacuum Up the Dust
    Before proceeding on to the final steps, be sure to thoroughly vacuum your piece of furniture. The antiquing process will create a lot of dust. You’ll want a super-clean surface before continuing on.







    5) Linseed Oil Deepens the Color
    Here’s where the finish really begins to come together. Produce a mixture of 50% boiled linseed oil (you can find this at any hardware store) and 50% mineral spirits. Brush or wipe (I’m using a finishing sponge here) the mixture on and allow it to sit on the surface for a minute or two. Remember, you’re not painting a masterpiece here, just get plenty of oil onto the wood. Milk paint is very dry stuff, and your furniture will want to absorb a lot of oil.











    6) Wipe Away Excess Oil
    Using a clean, lint-free rag, wipe away the excess oil and allow it to sit for a few more minutes before wiping again with another clean cloth. Allow the oil to dry for a couple of days and add another coat






    7) Paste Wax for a Final Finish
    Allow the oil to cure for 5-7 days. Linseed oil takes time to fully dry and cure. You don’t want to rush this process. After the oil is fully dry, you can go ahead and apply a coat of clear paste wax using a lint-free rag. Just rub it on, allow it to haze over a bit (3 minutes or so) and buff it off with another clean rag.



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    william shubert writes: Got an old over stock cabinet with fading door surfaces at http://caldwells.com/, they in fact sells old and refurbish and used doors. I guess, lacquer is one of the finishing solutions that can bring back the fresh texture of the woods.
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    Lee Sargent writes:

    Refinishing furniture with an antique look is quite a serious task, not suitable for beginners in woodwork or for those who lack patience, It is a lot easier in contrast to visit Moduform and get some brand new shelves for your books, although some people will opt for the charm of antique furniture.

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    adora deny writes:

    You are very talented at this work, therefore, you should teach other people from your entourage how to create something unique or how to restore something old. This autumn, many people search for kitchen remodel ideas. So, this is a great opportunity to gather your neighbors and to do weekly a workshop center in your house.

    Ronan Cohaley writes:

    Many know this one mold removal company in Kansas City in Kansas City that usually works with old houses, especially ones that were built in the 30s or 40s. The builders were using special made materials that you can't really find now on the market. After the second world war everything has changed.

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    iuliancezar cezar writes: There are many ways available on different platforms that teach you how to refinish old furniture. It is amazing how someone can learn so fast from an online tutorial. You can do almost anything nowadays with a little bit of patience.
    williama willis writes: Notice how dull the finish looks at this point. Don’t worry, though, we’ll tackle that issue in a later step. my latest blog post
    williama willis writes: Notice how dull the finish looks at this point. Don’t worry, though, we’ll tackle that issue in a later step. my latest blog post
    andy walker writes: I have fading interior closet doors that I bought from Caldwells store way back 2010, it is used and the door is exactly the design from this store page http://caldwells.com/interior-doors/closet-doors, do you think I really need to buy a replacement door or have it refinish just that way?
    iuliancezar cezar writes: You can check vinylfenceco.com for finding the best options when it comes to refinishing old furniture. It is important to choose the right tools and materials in order to not damage anything.
    david young
    david young writes:

    anamazing methios wuth an amazing results.. i dont know if I'm going to try it at home because I lack the experience ...the chicken and egg paradiox, you know...

    adora deny writes:

    Interesting method, but I won't try it in my house because I am not as experienced as you are. I prefer to hire a professional team to install or do something in my house. For instance, last week I hired a professional from   www.americanpaintinganddesign.com to paint my house.

    adora deny writes:

    I had this problem but I solved it when I renovated the house. I changed almost everything from doors and windows to bedroom and kitchen furniture. The only room that wasn't renovated was my son's room. But this week I am going to shop for youth bedroom furniture at Crate.ca and make his room as new.

    Baker Gozalina
    Baker Gozalina writes:

    Making furniture is really a difficult job. All carpenters can't able to make a furnishing and beautiful one. It is a long term process takes place by several steps. After complete we can use it but we have to take care of these.

    After use a long time we have to color it again, polish it, repair or any other activities required for wooden furniture. Furniture are use for several purpose at different place. The shape and size of furniture depends on that place, purpose of use and time of use etc. We also take furniture for use in rental basis. Acrylic Furniture Rental Hartford

    marvin vinn writes:

    I followed your advice when I refinished a part of our living room furniture. Furthermore, I bought for it new Jako Hardware accessories to look not old, but futuristic. I am very pleased with my work because the furniture looks amazing with this new appearance.

    Steve Knight writes:

    I think you should have provided us with one more picture so that we can see the final look, because I'm not totally convinced from what I've seen, despite thinking it looks good, it just doesn't have an antique look. - Steve Knight

    pollard marker writes:

    Thanks for giving out useful information. I was looking for instruction how to refinish furniture with an antique look and found this wonderful allocation. All the tips are very helpful and I'm looking forward to refinish my furniture with antique look.


    Evamarie Gomez writes:

    Very nice!

    Gina Eide writes:

    Cool technique. You'll have to post photos of the completed piece!

    Brad Stave writes:

    Thanks Ed .. I am also a big fan of Milk Paint .. this gal was saying she was 1 of very few distributers of this product and it was $34.00 a QT ... I will go back and see her .. she just opened a store that specializes in antiques including painting them ... thnaks

    Ed Pirnik writes:


    I'd never heard of the stuff until your comment. I just took a look online and while I do find references to the product, I can't find any mention of what the product is composed of. That said, you can find a load of information regarding the history, and some tidbits regarding composition of milk paint here.



    PS: This is quickly becoming one of my favorite finishes. I just love the rich look you get after the linseed oil has been applied - stunning - and SMOOTH as glass.

    Brad Stave writes:

    I just saw a demo of a "New Product" called Chalk Paint ... looked and smeeled like Milk paint ... does anybody know if it is the same as Milk Paint ?

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