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Refinishing or Painting Wood Furniture Part 1

refinishing or painting wood furniture
Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint, Flow Blue, Eulalie’s Sky, Shutter Gray, Antique and Furniture Wax

When to Refinish and When to Paint

How to decide whether refinishing or painting wood furniture is right. We’ve been refinishing and painting wood for more than 30 years. You can imagine we are often faced with the decision of whether to refinish or paint the wood furniture that comes our way. The decision isn’t always easy and as a furniture flipper you have many options to consider.

  • Is the wood in good enough shape to be sanded down and stained?
  • What is the market for this type of furniture?
  • Will I be destroying the value of an antique by painting it?
  • How hard will it be for my customer to take care of the final finish?
  • Which is going to take me more time and will I get my investment back?
  • Do I have the products and the skills to do the job right?
  • Which will look best and give the piece character, charm and durability?

In the most recent past, most of the furniture that was getting refinished was getting stripped down and re-stained. The most popular topcoat was polyurethane. But that was before the diy furniture painting explosion. Now there are so many great products available to those of us who love to paint furniture. We have so many choices and easy access to wonderful products once only available to big companies. Sometimes even too many.

Furniture Painting 101
Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Eulalie’s Sky, Furniture and Antique Wax

You might think as furniture painters that we love painted finishes more than wood finishes but the opposite is the truth. We love wood. My husband is a carpenter so wood is a very present material in our lifestyle. Most of the pieces we find to repurpose however need to be painted because the wood isn’t in good enough shape to refinish and the effort needed to do so wouldn’t be cost-effective or they are already painted with many coats of paint. I think that is why the re-finished tops have become so popular. The best of both worlds. Beautiful Wood and a Beautiful Painted Finish.

Antique Cedar Chest Painted and Stained

refinishing or painting wood furniture

This antique cedar chest was recently refinished with Fusion Mineral Paint color Casement and the NEW Homestead House Stain and Finishing Oil all in one. The wood was very old, dry and a little bit damaged but we wanted to highlight the vintage-ness [Is that a word?] of the wood shades and the wonderful engraved design on the front. We really wanted to give it a “Primitive Farmhouse Finish” but leave the wood as natural looking as possible. Each piece of this antique cedar chest was made from a different kind of wood giving it lots of very unique charm.

The Process: Refinishing or Painting Wood Furniture

  1. First we sanded it really well with 150 grit and then 220 grit
  2. Then I diluted the casement paint 4 parts water-1 part paint
  3. Painted the whole chest with the diluted paint and while it was drying I wiped some off so it looked like a limed finish.
  4. The next day a super light sand and then 1st coat of Stain & Finishing Oil color Natural
  5. 12 hours after the first coat we applied the 2nd coat of Stain & Finishing Oil color natural. The 2nd coat gave it a soft sheen which we love!
  6. When it was completely dry we attached these cute feet to get the chest off the ground and make it more functional.
  7. I had sanded the feet down and then stained them with the Stain & Finishing Oil all in one color white.

The feet are actually old finials from wooden flagpoles I purchased at auction years ago. Love to re-purpose!

refinishing or painting wood furniture

When you are refinishing or painting wood furniture, the time and effort is so worth it as you preserve a piece from the past and give it New-Life and hopefully if you are selling it a new home.

In the end this piece was perfect to refinish with very little paint and lots of oils that would protect the wood for years to come. The couple who purchased it was so happy that it had a minimum of changes and was so natural and perfectly aged.

Happy Painting,


Stay Tuned for Refinishing or Painting Wood Furniture Part 2 –  The Rippled Veneer


  1. Thank You Derry. The new stains have really made me want to refinish more pieces.

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