How to Refinish Veneer Wood Furniture
Resurfacing furniture begins with knowing what type of material you are working with. Many people don't know the difference between wood veneer and laminate. Laminate is a composite material that is then "printed" on. The printed on wood grain usually will look too perfect and the surface will be really shiny. Or it will appear sort of plastic looking if done in a color. Wood veneer on the other hand is really wood! But just a very thin piece of it. The veneer is attached to a composite material such as particle board or MDF that gives the appearance of overall real wood but at a much cheaper price to manufacture. Knowing what material you have will help you determine what type of preparations are needed to get a lasting finish on your piece. My process for this veneer bedroom set is outlined below. As always comment below with any questions you have regarding our process used!
There is nothing more precious than the joy and pride a child has for their own room. This sweet furniture makeover had a lot of sentimental value. Once mom's bedroom set, she now wanted it transformed and updated for her daughter's room. The pieces had been banged up, scratched, and abandoned to the basement for quite a long time. Though cherished, the pieces didn't quite show it. The collection consisted of two dressers, a desk and a bed frame.
We started the renovation process with sanding down the tops and drawer fronts of all the pieces. We wanted to keep some of the wood grain. With most pieces I see, there is a combination of real wood and some sort of particle board material. Or in this case, veneer and particle board. So we opted to keep the fronts and tops with the wood grain and paint the frames in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
I did not sand the frames prior to using the Annie Sloan chalk paint and BOY do I wish I had. Although it did eventually take, it took many more coats than I would have liked. Even a light sanding of the pieces with 150 or 220 grit paper prior to using the chalk paint would have made a huge difference. In the end, it still looked great I just had to work harder to apply more coats in some places.
The tops and drawer fronts turned out beautifully! Sanding veneer you have to be very careful to not sand through the wood. Again, as I mentioned above, veneer is just a very thin wood material attached to a composite backing. I use an orbital sander still but if you are nervous to do so just go at it by hand until you get a feel for the wood. I use 120 grit sandpaper to start with light pressure and then follow up with 220 grit.
We tied in the wood grain and the white painted frames by applying a whitewash to the tops and drawer fronts. Whitewash is just a fancy term for diluted paint. I use a 1 to 1 ratio of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and water to create a white tint but allowing the grain to show through. I just simply brush on and then instantly wipe off. Work in small areas so it doesn't dry too much before wiping off. And it will dry fast! Be careful when applying to try and over lap your lines a bit to blend where you left off as it can create a distinct line between applications.
The pieces were then top coated in Minwax's Polycrylic. This stuff is water-based and will not yellow like the oil-based options. This is crucial when applying over white paint! Also, it protects just as well over painted surfaces and is easier to clean! Heck yes!!
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