Cleaning, fixing and restoring antique furniture can be a challenging prospect. Not only do you have to determine if you’re going modernize your piece or restore it to its original look, you also need to understand the history of the piece! Before restoring a piece to its original state, take a look at these commonly overlooked challenges, and details, of antique restoration. Good luck!
Cleanliness is Key – How are you to know what work needs to be done if you don’t clean your piece? Many first time restorers get so excited about the project ahead that they jump right into refinishing or replacing hardware before they know what needs to be restored! If your piece of hardware is dirty, make sure that the first thing you do is give it a good rub down with a non-oil based cleaner. It is especially important that your cleaner is non-oil based because oil will oxidize over time. Never, ever, decide to refinish a piece before cleaning it. You never know if a beautiful, preserved piece of furniture is hiding under years of dirt and grime!
Identify the Finish –Before you strip and re-finish your piece it’s crucial that you determine what type of finish was originally used. If you don’t use the right finish the final product may not look how you intended or worse, you could devalue the piece. Usually you’ll find that most antiques were finished with some type of lacquer, varnish or paint. Every once in a while you’ll find that the original finish was custom made by the craftsman and not easily identifiable. In this case you should consult a restoration professional who can recommend a finish that best represents the era of the piece.
Finding the Right Hardware – Aside from applying the right finish, replacement hardware is crucial to appropriate restoration. Depending on the era that your piece came from it can either be very simple or incredibly difficult to find the perfect hardware. Before you begin looking for what you think is the right hardware, make sure you understand the history behind your piece; your search will be much easier when you know what to look for. The hardware you choose for your piece is arguably the most important part in the restoration process. Do your research and only settle for the perfect replacements… it will all be worth it in the end.