How do I choose a refinisher?
There are many factors that you should consider. Reputation,
years in business, quality of work, scope of work, and price are just a
few. We recommend that you visit the shop that you are planning on
using. Most reputable shops welcome your visit and many will even give
you a tour. This will usually give you an opportunity to see what
service the shop provides, how busy they are, how professional they are
and what their finished product looks like. You will know a good shop
when you see it.
Do you buy or sell furniture?
No, we do not buy or sell. We are a service related business and will
be happy to work on any furniture that you have but we do not have a
retail business except for Furniture Care Products, Table Pads and
Do you pick up or deliver?
Yes, we have a fourteen foot cube van and can pick up or deliver
almost all of the pieces that we refinish. We do not, however, pick up
and deliver pianos. Call us to make arrangements. A fee may apply.
Q: Do you make appraisals?
No, we do not do any appraising. We can tell you about the quality of
a piece and the approximate age, which may be helpful in determining if
you would be interested in having the piece refinished. There are many
LICENSED AND INSURED APPRAISERS in the area. You may want to consult
your insurance agent or the local phone directory.
Q: Do you do upholstery?
No, we do not do upholstery. We can recommend one or co-ordinate the
refinishing work with your upholsterer.
Q: Will my furniture be devalued by refinishing?
Articles that are extremely old (prior to the mid-1800) or are
historically important should be evaluated before refinishing. These
pieces may need restoration as opposed to refinishing. The great
majority of pieces will actually increase in value and appeal and will
have their usefulness and life prolonged with a professional refinishing
and proper care by the owner.
Q: Is my furniture worth refinishing?
With the exception of the rare collectable piece (as mentioned in the
previous FAQ) most furniture is limited in its resale value.
The best way to determine this is to visit a local refinishing
establishment. They should be able to help you determine the quality of
the piece in question. This will also allow you to see the quality of
the work done by the shop. Many times the finishes that are applied by a
professional refinisher are superior to those that are applied in
furniture factories. Other factors that may affect your decision are the
need to have it match another piece of furniture or woodwork (color
matching), the desire to change the color or have a custom finish (i.e.
pickled), or an emotional attachment (such as a gift or a family
heirloom). Compare the cost of refinishing with the cost of a similar
piece from a quality furniture store. The odds are good that your
furniture is made of higher quality materials and better constructed
than a piece that you would purchase from the furniture store.
Do your part to conserve our natural resources, have it refinished.
Q: Do you dip strip the furniture?
No, we do not have a dip system.
We use a flow-over system for the majority of our stripping. This
system consists of a large (4’ X 8’) pan that has a drain on one end.
The remover, which is thin like water, is collected in a five gallon
bucket and pumped through a nylon bristle brush. After the finish is
removed the piece is rinsed with water and allowed to dry. This system
is more costly to operate than a dip system but saves time in the prep
and repair stages of refinishing. I will not loosen joints or veneers
that are in sound condition.
On some pieces we use a semi-paste version of our remover and
occasionally we need to use solvents (i.e. lacquer thinner or alcohol)
in order to safely strip a piece.
How long does it take to refinish a piece?
Usually we will need four to six weeks to refinish your furniture
whether it is a single piece of and entire bedroom or dining room
outfit. Special arraignments can, sometimes, be made to expedite work
but we cannot rush drying times.
What can I expect my furniture to look like when it is done?
We strive to give our customer the finish that they want, and strongly
encourage the customer to assist in achieving their desired results.
This can be a finish that makes the piece look aged or brand new. We can
match a sample (such as a drawer of another piece) or have you come in
to “direct us” when we are ready for color. You can have your choice of
sheens (flat, dull, satin, semi-gloss, or gloss). You may also opt to
have a formal (rubbed out) finish on a table top. We also offer custom
finishes. New hardware can make a dramatic difference in the appearance
of a piece.
You can come in and look through our photo albums to see what kind of
difference a quality finish can make.
Is refinishing expensive?
Refinishing is a labor intensive service. A quality refinishing job,
while not cheap, will probably be ¼ to ½ the cost of purchasing a new
piece of similar quality. Spot repairs, top only, or cleaning and
touch-up can considerably reduce your expense.
Can you just repair without refinishing?
Yes, we quite often re-glue, or repair furniture without refinishing
it. We are capable of making replacement parts (rockers, legs, filler
boards, etc.) and finishing them to match. We also can replace cane,
rush and fiber seats.
Q: How should I care for my furniture?
If the finish on your furniture is in good condition you
should do the following.
to maintain a constant humidity and temperature in your home.
Temperatures between 68 and 72 degrees and a relative humidity of 45
to 55 percent are ideal.
Protect it from ultra-violet light. This is hard on both the finish
and the wood.
Protect against extreme heat, cold or moisture. Use coasters,
trivets or table pads.
regularly. Use a treated dust cloth ( we sell Guardsman brand) or a
soft lint free cloth. Dust is an abrasive and can scratch the
surface, so be careful.
Polish with a water-emulsified furniture polish three to four times
a year. We sell Guardsman brand polish in the concentrate and in the
aerosol can. DO NOT OVER POLISH.
you have a waxy build up you will need to clean it off before
polishing. Use Murphy’s Oil Soap or naphtha to remove any residue.
up spills and wet rings as soon as possible.
polish brass hardware while it is on the furniture.
drag furniture. This can break legs, chip feet and loosen joints. If
it has casters, two people should gently guide it to its new
location, otherwise it should be carried. Never hurry!
sit on furniture that is not designed to be sat on, and don’t lean
back in chairs.
Reprint— Finishing & Restoration (formerly
Professional Refinishing Magazine), June 2002
Is refinishing bad?
our trade magazine "Finishing & Restoration" (formerly Professional
Refinishing), the wisdom of restoring/refinishing antique and older
furniture was discussed/debated at some length. Some opinions mirrored
the public's general perception that restoration and refinishing are to
be avoided. The misperception was fueled largely by a general
misunderstanding that resulted from various airings of the television
show "Antiques Roadshow" on PBS. It got to the point where many people
believed it was unwise to restore/refinish almost any piece of
editor of the magazine, Bob Flexner, contacted the shows' producers and
explained the impact the misunderstanding was having on the public's
perception concerning restoring/refinishing older and antique furniture.
Peter B. Cook, executive producer of the television program, wrote a
response that was published in the June 2002 issue of the magazine. Here
are some excerpts from the article (underline added for emphasis);
ago, we at Antiques Roadshow received a letter from Professional
Refinishing editor Bob Flexner, pointing out that our apparent obsession
(my word, not his) with 'original finish' has had the effect of
misleading the public about what repairing and refinishing actually do
to the value of furniture - most furniture, that is.
now in our sixth season of Antiques Roadshow on PBS... This means, of
course, that there's a real premium on the accuracy, dependability and
usefulness of the information we provide. ... I'd hate to think that
we've created a subset of American furniture owners living in dread of a
fatal financial misstep (though Antiques Roadshow is, after all, a show
about value, including market value). ... Still, if I'm reading things
correctly, it sounds as if Roadshow furniture experts are saying, by and
large, 'leaving things alone is good, refinishing is bad.'
Understandably, our Americana experts on the Roadshow live for wonderful
old pieces of furniture that have somehow survived in terrific condition
- pieces not used too hard, left out in strong light for long periods of
time or forced to survive a flooded cellar. Most old furniture, of
course, doesn't come close to meeting those standards. On the contrary,
most furniture has been well used (even abused), scratched, broken, and
often repaired many times. How could such furniture not be improved by a
good job of refinishing or restoring? ... A secretary, made by Christian
Shively in about 1820, was brought to the Indianapolis tapings this
year. It had been stripped and refinished by the owner to remove paint
that had been applied many decades earlier. Appraiser John Hays endorsed
the need for refinishing and complimented the quality of the work.
where does that leave us? Let the record show that Antiques Roadshow
generally agrees with this notion: Well-conceived and well-executed
refinishing and restoration usually enhances the value of just about any
piece of old furniture. Exceptions are those rare (often museum-quality)
pieces that have somehow survived in great 'original' condition. If we
say or imply to the contrary, we should be called on it."
"Well-conceived and well-executed refinishing and restoration usually
enhances the value..."