Renovating Old Wooden Furniture on a Budget

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According to the USA National Flea Market Association, there are over 1100 large flea markets all around the US, not to mention the colossal amount of individual garage sales. That said, who doesn’t like haggling a furniture piece and leave a stranger’s home with a smile in their face and a bargain in their trunk?

Now, the kind of items you can get in those places are not brand new, but typically worn out and second-handed, instead. That doesn’t mean you should deliver it to a professional for renovation and invest even more money than you spent in getting it. That’s why we’re here to help you turn wooden pieces with hidden potential into some amazingly beautiful and polished furniture, without breaking the bank!


First things first, we recommend trying to disassemble the piece into the smallest parts possible. This way, you can work each chunk more efficiently and tackle those hard places that would be impossible to reach otherwise. This is only possible if the furniture at hand has nails and screws and, even then, make sure you organize them properly, so you can easily mount it back in the end.


Some furniture pieces might not be that worn-out, meaning a good wash and a hard scrub with a soft fabric can go a really long way into making them shine again. Before going ahead with your renovation, make sure you leave it dry in the sun.


Even though you can skip this step and go right to sanding, remember – patience is the key to success! So, what is stripping? It refers to the chemical removal of old paint, coat or varnish from your piece in order to reach the natural wood under those layers. First, we recommend taking the project outside, as it can get pretty messy, as well as covering the fabric parts of the furniture. Get yourself an old brush and give it a nice coat of any chemical stripper – Citistrip and Blue Bear are the most reliable brands on the market. We know this article is about cheaper DIY ways of renovating, but working with a home-made or lower quality chemical stripper can be extremely harmful to your furniture and your health. After a good half hour, the paint will come off like butter. Lastly, there is no need for a specific tool, as a plastic putty knife can do the job efficiently.


This is the tricky part. Not because it’s a complex process, but because it can be arduous without a nice power sander. If there’s a step where you can invest a bit more, this is it. Here you can find the best detail sanders on the market, at the moment. But since we’re talking about getting inside the budget, getting some simple sheets of sandpaper is enough. Strap it to an old sponge or a block of hard material and start sanding the pieces. This will make sure all the material that the stripper didn’t get will be gone, as well as giving it a smooth surface. We recommend starting with a lower grit value sandpaper (around 80-grit) and working your way up, each sanding, till you reach the 150-grit sandpaper. This way, not only do you not remove too much of the surface but you also avoid putting too much-unneeded effort.


By this time, you’ll see a major difference between your initial furniture and the piece at hand and how much some tips and tricks can help you greatly improve an old table, chair or others. Now, your item should be ready for the final step – which can be divided into two processes, depending on how you want the final result to look. If you wish to bring some happy and lively colors to your place’s vibe, choose a nice tone and give it a few coats. You can also sand, with a finer sandpaper, between coats, allowing you to reach a more polished result. If you want to maintain that earthy and rustic wood aspect, grab yourself some Epifanes Clear Gloss Varnish (considered by most the best on the market) and also give it a few coats with a bit of sanding between them.

Renovating Old Furniture is Satisfying

To some people, woodworking can look like a very distant art, useful only for those who put their professional lives into it. But, as you can see in this article, that’s not always the case. DIY has been a large trend around the world and believe us when we say nothing feels better than working in a project from start to finish, with your own hands. Now, the only thing left is to display your amazing results and enjoy the proud feeling that comes with them. Thanks for reading!

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