Monday, 20 January 2014

Table Restoration: Changing Wood Colour

You'll have to excuse another post about our 1930's house and our attempts at furniture!  It's so expensive to buy brand new of any quality, so therefore much of our time is spent drawing out plans, looking at antique furniture in charity shops and car boot sales, and talking about what type of wax polish would give the best finish!  We are completely obsessed, and it doesn't help that we're both perfectionists, ditherers and that there's not much left in the budget.

If you too have a dislike for modern, mass-produced, plastic coated furniture, this might interest you.

When we bought our dining room table, we loved the shape (the curves echo our bay window) and the size, but we didn't like the colour.  It was a sort of 1970's teak colour, which wouldn't have suited our dining room.  Then we happened to buy a set of 6 chairs, which were a sort of mahogany or rosewood, and we knew we just had to try and get them to match.

How do you get a teak table to match mahogany chairs?!

Here's how...

Firstly, you can't have sky high expectations.  We spoke to some professional furniture restorers whilst researching techniques, and even they can't guarantee a 100% colour match.  But you can get it in the same general tone, and match how light or dark it is.

Secondly, the better quality products you use, the better the finish will be.  We used products from Fiddes, which are excellent quality, and though pricey, a little goes a long way.  Their experts in store are very knowledgeable and helpful.

Step 1: Sanding back the surface
A finished piece of furniture can have many layers of wax, varnish, sealant, polish and such like on its surface, and these all need to be stripped off so that you can apply new layers.  For a large piece of furniture you will need to use some power tools, such as a rotary sander attached to a drill, or a belt sander.  Be very careful - a lot of furniture that looks like solid wood, is actually a 'veneer', where a thin layer of proper wood is simply glued onto a base made of MDF or chipboard, or something else cheap and unattractive looking.  The picture below shows the table with the two end sections sanded, and the middle yet to be done (so it's the orginal orangey colour).

Step 2: Prepare your surface
The freshly sanded surface will have lots of tiny 'bits' attached to it.  You'll need to wipe down the entire table by hand with a damp cloth.

Step 3: Stain your wood
The choice of stain doesn't have to be exact, think of it as a 'foundation', or a colour wash that an artist would apply to a canvas first before adding other colours.  It's a base coat.  We used Fiddes Wood Dye in 'Walnut', which is applied with a cloth.  After we'd stained our table, it was terrifyingly dark.  We hadn't yet bought any wax or other finishing products, and I'm glad, because we were able to look at the dark colour and decide then 'it's not got enough brown or red in it', and then we could go out and buy a wax with brown and red in it for step 5.

Step 4: Glaze your wood
We used Fiddes Clear Glaze, which was brushed on, and the excess wiped off with a cloth so that no brush marks remained.  This step adds extra durability to surfaces that are subject to wear and tear, like floors, tables etc.  We chose a satin finish, but it's available also in gloss and matt.

Step 5: Wax your wood
A fine wire wool is used to work the wax into the table, and you then buff the surface with a cloth afterwards.  We used Fiddes Supreme Wax in 'Cherry'.  The wax can be built up in layers, so if you have a piece of furniture with a few chips and scratches, the wax can help fill them and give a better finish.  There's also a colourless 'mellow' wax available if you don't want to add any additional colour to your wood.

As you can see, this kind of thing takes a lot of man hours, but it really does give a lovely new lease of life to something that was a perfectly good piece of furniture, but didn't quite fit the 'colour scheme'.

So, in total, here's what we spent:
Dining table = £10
Set of 6 chairs = £40
Fiddes wood stain =£13.01
Fiddes glaze = £15.39
Fiddes wax polish = £7.85

We have used tiny amounts of the dye, glaze and polish - they will go on to restore many more items of furniture.  So let's generously overestimate that we've used a fifth of all these products, that's only £7.25 to refinish a lovely table!  Total cost about £57.25 for the table and chairs we wanted.

I'll leave you with some pictures on the finished result, we're really pleased with it!  The top photo shows the table extended, you'll notice that the middle section is ever so slightly darker - this is because that section was initially darker when we started out, there will always be little quirks like that.

Can you spot the odd-one-out chair?

Have any of you attempted to upcycle any furniture?


  1. Never apologize for 1930's house posts! Keep them coming! :)

    1. Ooo I hope you don't regret saying that!! Tee hee! P x

  2. Funwithvintage took the exact words out of my mouth. These kinds of posts are informative, engaging and always welcome. Write as many as your heart desires, dear gal.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Well I don't think there'll be a shortage of them, lots to do in the house before it's how we want it!! P x

  3. What a great interior ! :)
    Ha a and I saw my friend Jessica also Knows your blog,
    Cool blog indeed Porcelina :)


  4. Great ideas , Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks

  5. I love happy endings! Thank goodness you and the table survived. All your hard work paid off because the tabletop looks fabulous! I need to redo our kitchen table but now I'm scared. ;)

  6. All of them have got different features and types, the item can make it tough to choose which often is the best with in your case. in the following paragraphs, I've truly went around a few of the important characteristics that you'll want to have with your belt sander to ensure you are going to recognize that you've a quality software.

  7. I'd say these are great ideas! Normally the color of the wood will be faded by time, so it is important to know such tricks!

  8. Wow, it is remarkable! I don't think timeless furniture pieces like these should be something to apologize for. Sanding wood before working on it is a must not unless you want to settle for mediocre finish.

  9. Great ending of your story! Glad that the table survived!) I like your idea!


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