4 Questions to Ask Before Restoring or Refinishing Antique Furniture


Antiquing is quickly turning into a popular hobby. And since you’re reading this blog, I think it’s safe to assume that you’ve caught the antiquing bug as well.

So, perhaps you’ve got a piece of old furniture laying around – something your grandma left you. Or maybe you found a promising antique at a garage sale or a thrift shop. But before you turn it into your next antique restoration project, here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:


When it was made?

Back in the olden days, when they made furniture, they made it strong and long-lasting. But, around 1960s, everything started being produced through assembly line which decreased their quality. Furniture made after that aren’t as good a candidate for restoration as those made before. In fact, the best candidates for restoration were made between 1900 and 1960. Those made after aren’t as strong and the ones made before could be too valuable to restore.

Does it have a strong frame?

When it comes to restoration, the fillings, upholstery and the nuts and bolts can be changed and replaced if required. But, the frame and the joints must be in good condition. Check the weight of the furniture. If it seems heavy, it is more likely to be made of solid hardwood and, when restored properly, could be of great value.

Will restoring diminish its value?

Most of the times, restoring antiques adds value to it. But sometimes, with some antiques, that is not the case. If your antique furniture was made before the 1900s, there is a good chance that it could be rare and of great value. Similarly, if it was made by a well known master craftsman, or made using a rare technique /design, again the furniture might be of high value. In these cases, restoring might damage its originality and decrease its value instead.

To avoid damaging a rare piece of antique furniture, check for labels before you restore. The label will tell you when and by whom the furniture was made. Then you can decide for yourself whether or not to restore the antique.

What is hidden behind the outer surface?

If you are thinking of restoring an antique, you need to focus more on the core material than on the surface finish. Don’t be put off by a dingy looking exterior or fooled by a beautiful paint job. You will probably clean and strip the outer paint job. But, in order for a piece of furniture to be worth the cost of restoration, the inner material must be made of good solid material that can last for a long time.


Hope these questions have helped you decide whether or not to go through with your restoration project. If you have anything more to add, let us know in the comments below.

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