How to Refinish Oak Furniture

Attention all furniture lovers, DIY enthusiasts, and home decorators! Are you tired of old, worn-out oak furniture that is taking up precious space in your home? Or perhaps you have a sentimental piece that has seen better days but you just can’t part with it. Well, fear not because we have the solution for you – refinishing oak furniture!

How to Refinish Oak Furniture

In this blog post, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of how to refinish oak furniture with some simple techniques and tips. So get ready to roll up your sleeves and transform those dull and dated pieces into stunning centerpieces for your home.

Why May You Want to Refinish Oak Furniture?

1 . To Restore Old Oak Furniture

Old oak furniture can be timeless and have a lot of emotional value, but it may also get damaged over time. As much as you want to preserve it, there’s always a possibility that your old oak furniture will need refinishing. Refinishing involves repairing the wood, then sanding and staining it so it looks like new again. This way, you can enjoy your old furniture for years to come.

2 . To Refresh the Look of Your Furniture

Oak furniture may also lose its shine and luster over time. This is especially common in high-traffic areas or if the furniture is exposed to direct sunlight. Refinishing can help bring back that natural beauty of oak furniture by removing scratches, stains, and other imperfections. It can also change the color of your furniture to match your current home decor, giving it a fresh new look.

3 . To Add Value to Your Furniture

Refinishing oak furniture not only makes it look better, but can also add value to your piece. If you plan on selling or passing down your furniture in the future, refinishing it can significantly increase its value. Potential buyers or recipients will appreciate the effort and care put into restoring the furniture, making it more desirable.

How to Refinish Oak Furniture in 5 Easy Steps

Here is a general step-by-step guide on how to refinish oak furniture:

Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace

Before starting the refinishing process, make sure to prepare your workspace and gather all the necessary materials. This includes a well-ventilated area such as a garage or outdoor space, protective gear like gloves and goggles, and tools such as sandpaper, wood stain, and varnish.

Make Sure to Prepare Your Workspace

Step 2: Strip Away the Old Finish

The first step in refinishing oak furniture is to remove the existing finish. You can use a chemical stripper or sandpaper to strip away the old finish. If you are using a chemical stripper, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and work in a well-ventilated area.

Step 3: Sanding

After stripping off the old finish, you’ll need to sand the wood surface to remove any remaining residue and smooth out any imperfections. Start with a coarse-grit sandpaper and gradually work your way to a finer grit until the surface is smooth and ready for staining.

Step 4: Staining

Once the wood surface is sanded and clean, it’s time to apply the stain. Make sure to choose a color that complements the oak wood grain. Apply the stain evenly using a paint brush or cloth, following the direction of the wood grain. Let it dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 5: Protecting with Varnish

The final step in refinishing oak furniture is to protect it with a topcoat of varnish. This will not only add shine but also protect the wood from damage and wear. Apply the varnish using a brush or cloth, and let it dry completely before using the furniture.

Refinishing oak furniture may seem like a daunting task, but with these easy steps, you can transform your worn-out pieces into beautiful and revitalized pieces that will last for years to come. Remember to take your time, follow instructions carefully, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different finishes and techniques to achieve the desired look.

Some Tips to Refinish Oak Furniture

1 . Do Not Rush

It is important to take your time when refinishing oak furniture. It may seem like a daunting task, but patience and care will result in a beautiful piece of furniture that can last for many years. Also, remember that mistakes can happen, but they can also be fixed.

2. Gather Supplies

Before starting a refinishing project, make sure to gather all the necessary supplies. This includes sandpaper in varying grits (60/80/100), wood stain and varnish, paintbrushes or foam brushes, drop cloths, gloves, and a face mask for protection.

Make Sure to Gather All the Necessary Supplies

3. Prepare the Furniture

Begin by removing any hardware or drawers from the furniture. Use a degreaser or soapy water to clean the surface, then lightly sand it with 60-grit sandpaper to remove any old finish or imperfections. Finish off by wiping down the furniture with a tack cloth to remove any dust.

4. Sanding

Sanding is a crucial step in refinishing oak furniture. Start with 60-grit sandpaper and work your way up to finer grits (80/100). This will remove any scratches or marks, and create a smooth surface for staining.

5. Staining

When choosing a stain, consider the color and type of wood you are working with. Apply the stain evenly with a brush or cloth, and wipe off any excess after a few minutes. Allow the stain to fully dry before applying additional coats.

6. Varnishing

Once the stain has dried, apply a coat of varnish to protect and seal the wood. Use long, even strokes, and be sure to cover all areas of the furniture. Allow the varnish to dry completely before sanding lightly with 100-grit sandpaper and applying a second coat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Precautions Should Be Taken Before Refinishing Oak Furniture?

Before refinishing oak furniture, it is important to take certain precautions to ensure that the process goes smoothly and without any damage to your furniture. Make sure you have a well-ventilated area with plenty of space for you to work in.

Make Sure to Wear Protective Gear

Lay down a drop cloth or plastic sheeting to protect your floors and work surface from any spills or drips. Additionally, make sure to wear protective gear such as gloves, safety glasses, and a mask to avoid any potential exposure to harmful chemicals.

Can You Refinish Oak Furniture Without Stripping?

Yes, it is possible to refinish oak furniture without stripping the old finish off completely. This method is known as “surface refinishing” or “rejuvenation.” It involves lightly sanding the existing finish and then applying a new coat of stain or paint. This method is best for furniture with light wear and tear, as it may not be able to effectively remove deep scratches or stains.

What Tools and Materials Do You Need to Refinish Oak Furniture?

The tools and materials you will need for refinishing oak furniture may vary depending on the condition of your furniture and your preferred method of refinishing. However, some common items include sandpaper or a power sander, stain or paint, paintbrushes or foam brushes, protective gear, and a drop cloth or plastic sheeting.

How Long Does It Take to Refinish Oak Furniture?

The time it takes to refinish oak furniture can vary depending on the size of your piece, the condition it is in, and your chosen method of refinishing. Generally, it can take a few hours to a few days to complete the process.

Can You Refinish Antique Oak Furniture?

Yes, you can refinish antique oak furniture with caution. It is important to research proper techniques and take your time to avoid damaging the piece. It is also recommended to consult with a professional if you are unsure or uncomfortable with the process.

Consult With a Professional

How Much Does It Cost to Refinish Oak Furniture?

The cost of refinishing oak furniture can vary depending on the size and condition of your piece, as well as the method you choose. DIY projects may cost anywhere from $50-$200 for materials while hiring a professional can range from $300-$1000 or more.

However, refinishing your furniture can save you money in the long run and allow for a more personalized touch.  So, it is worth considering your budget and preferences before deciding on a method of refinishing.


In conclusion, refinishing oak furniture may seem like a daunting task, but with these simple steps, you’ll be able to transform your old pieces into stunning and timeless pieces. Remember to always start with thorough preparation and choose the right materials for the job. Take your time and be patient throughout the process, as rushing can lead to costly mistakes.

Now you know how to refinish oak furniture. And don’t be afraid to get creative with your finishing techniques, whether it’s distressing or adding a pop of color. Your refinished oak furniture will not only look beautiful but also hold sentimental value as you put your unique touch on it.

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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