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Refinishing wood surfaces allows you to really bring out the natural lost beauty of old wood in your home. All of these refinishing techniques can be done on all wood surfaces. But with all the various products available, how do you know what to use? Wood finishes, like wood stains (see article on "Choosing the Right Stain") and varnishes, assist you to bring out the classic loveliness of natural wood; although they do eventually fade. That is why it is necessary, to maintain wood, to refinish it.

Basic steps for refinishing:

  • Strip the old paint - heat and chemical stripping are the easiest ways to remove old paint off of wood surfaces.

  • Sanding - after the old paint is removed, the surface should be well sanded for smoothness and paint absorption.

  • Wood staining - stains rejuvenate old wood surfaces and add rich colors.

  • Finishing - protects the wood.

There are several kinds of clear wood finishes. Tung oil, varnish, and polyurethane are a few. Basically varnishes and polyurethanes are slower to dry, and water based finishes along with some lacquers dry faster. Tung oil is easiest to apply and does a nice job. Varnishes and polyurethanes, while offering more protection, are a little tricky to apply. Lacquers take a larger amount of skill.

If the wood is in decent condition, but has a few marks and scratches, it won't take so much work to finish it. However, if the wood is in very poor shape, or you just want a new overall appearance, you must go through every step.

Tips on refinishing:

  • Inside doors and trims seem to always need refinishing. It may not always be necessary to strip the prior finish from them as this is a lengthy and drawn out process.

  • Don't attempt to refinish every room of your house at once. This is NOT a good idea. With all of the chemicals and messes made, this could actually be hazardous to your health, not to mention a disaster to move around. ONE ROOM AT A TIME is best.

  • Maintaining the front door of your home is more inviting to you and guests. New front doors can be quite expensive and therefore refinishing the wood on your current door is a wonderful idea.

  • Use stains and finishes that are adaptable. By adaptable, I mean finishes that will shrink or expand with the wood, as wood commonly changes with the weather.

Basically, clean the wood, strip and sand the wood, stain the wood (if you wish), and finish it. It is relatively inexpensive and the benefits amazing. BE PATIENT! It does take some time to complete, but it's well worth it.

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