How to Repair Furniture: Tips and Guidelines

How to Repair Furniture: Tips and Guidelines

Investing in a piece of furniture is a big choice. Unlike the bi-yearly (or yearly, if you’re truly dedicated) phone upgrades you might make to ‘keep up with the times,’ we generally don’t ditch a couch for the newest version. Instead, we try to take care of our furniture as long as possible through furniture maintenance, regular cleaning and general TLC. And even though you can definitely buy a couch that costs as much as the newest iPhone, its lifespan is viewed in a completely different manner.

We all know the most common causes of damage to a phone. Water, screen cracks and failing batteries all factor into someone ultimately making the decision to upgrade or replace a phone. But how familiar are you with the most common damages to furniture?

Different types of furniture are susceptible to different types of damage. Upholstered furniture can fall victim to discoloration caused by UV rays, odors and stains, and structural problems. Leather furniture might be your cat’s favorite scratching post or it could start cracking from accumulation of body oils. And you might think you’re doing your favorite leather chair justice by cleaning it with products once a week — but if those products aren’t suitable for leather you may be damaging it! Some types of wood furniture are susceptible to specific types of damages solely based on the type of finish it has on it.

Researching the specifics of your furniture and knowing how to clean the different types of material will go a long way in helping maintain the look of your investment. But lucky for you, Guardsman is here to provide you with an overview of common damages and how to repair them.

Wood Furniture

Watermarks and Burns

Have you ever met someone who has come off a bit finicky over using coasters on wood furniture? We know you definitely just had a friend’s name pop into your head. But that friend, the one you might give a hard time to for forcing coasters underneath your glass of water, actually has the right thought in mind. Sweating glasses, and even hot cups of coffee can damage furniture by leaving unsightly white rings on the wood.

Wooden stain

When moisture hits wood, it risks becoming trapped in the finish. As a result, white rings appear. If dark rings appear, that means the moisture has actually penetrated beyond the finish and into the wood. The dark rings occur because of a chemical reaction between the wood and the moisture. And we hate to say it, but when you start to see dark rings, the chances of a simple fix have been diminished. At this point, the furniture will need to be refinished. You may get by with just refinishing the top and match it to the table apron, base, and chairs that go around it.  If you are handy and understand how to refinish, you can do it yourself or send it to a professional.

On the other hand, white rings are much easier to fix.  The Guardsman Water Mark Remover Cloths are always a go-to solution if the finish has a satin, semi-gloss or high sheen to it.

If you have a low gloss, dull, or matte finish, you may need the assistance of a wood furniture repair professional.  Guardsman offers an on-site care and repair service that sends a technician to your home to make the repair on site.

You may think that a burn mark on a piece of furniture is a lost cause. After all, it was either made from extreme heat or fire. But alas, there is still hope to be had that your furniture might once again look respectable. If the area isn’t too large and since the charred wood is a weak link, you will need to remove as much of the charred portion of the burn mark as you can.  You can do this by using a curved, smooth blade.  Gently sand any remaining char using 400 grit sandpaper. Wipe away the loose debris and sanding dust using a soft cloth.  Fill the damaged area using a Guardsman Filler Stick that best matches the finish. Buff the excess Filler stick off the surrounding surface with a paper napkin.  The area may still be a bit visible but the filler stick will help disguise the damage some and it will offer protection against moisture.


Stains, like their not-so-distant relatives burns and watermarks, can be an annoyance to look at on your favorite piece of wood furniture. Some stains can be removed from wood finishes by using an easy DIY method.  If the stains are water soluble you can remove them best using a water cleaner such as the Guardsman Deep Clean product.  If you don’t have the Guardsman Cleaner on hand at the moment, white cider vinegar will be effective to remove dried on coffee, tea, grape juice, and other staining materials that contain tannins.   If the stains are solvent soluble such as inks, you may be able to remove these using the Guardsman Water Mark Remover Cloth, hand sanitizer that contains at least 62% alcohol (check the contents label on the packaging), or denatured alcohol applied damply to a soft cloth.

Wooden scratches

Dents and Scratches

Softwoods are basically infamous for being easily dented and scratched. Scratch it with your fingernail? Dent. Write on the surface without something underneath? Your essay just got transferred to the wood. Puppy teething? Goodbye, solid wood! Thankfully, there are solutions that require — get this — an iron and water.

If the finish is intact and sound, to remove a dent, drip a droplet or two of water over the dent and place a smooth thin dish towel over the top. The towel will absorb some of the water — that’s okay! Set the iron to the hottest temperature, then gently place it over the towel and move it around in small circles for only a few seconds.  Repeat until the towel is dry. Here’s what’s happening: the wood fibers are absorbing the water molecules, which help the fibers to expand back to their original shape. Patience; it may take more than one round of this method to make the dents disappear. Once the dent is gone, lightly sand the area to help even out the wood. Voila! It’s like it’s brand new.

Scratches are also incredibly easy to fix, especially if they are only on the surface. 0000 Steel Wood pads dampened with Guardsman Polish can be used to gently buff surface scratches out. Many professional technicians like to use Guardsman Polish with 0000 Steel Wool to bring wood finishes to a nice satin sheen.

The following are rapid remedies to scratches on different types of wood finishes:

Wood Finish Method/Product
Polyurethane/Urethane Follow the direction of the scratch with a piece of damp 600 wet/dry sandpaper. When the scratch is gone, use #0000 steel wool to buff it out for a nice satin sheen result.
Shellac/Lacquer Using a brush, apply lacquer thinner (for lacquer) or rubbing alcohol (for shellac) over the crack and let sit overnight.
Deep Scratches — Any finish Use an artist colored pencil or wood stain that most closely resembles the color of the wood furniture. Once the scratch is colored to the original wood tone, use a fine artist touch up brush to apply a thin layer of lacquer into the scratch.  Take care not to get the lacquer outside of the scratch.  Guardsman Filler Sticks all by themselves also may help subdue this type of damage.  Follow the directions on the packaging.


Leather Furniture


 Part of the ‘gig’ of owning leather furniture is the inherent acceptance that your leather will likely crack, tear, flake or scratch. And if you have a pet — just know your couch will likely get some… ahm, character… very quickly. Since these types of damages are common when it comes to leather furniture, there are quite a few tricks you can pull out of your sleeve to fix them.

For rips, cuts, and tears in leather, it’s absolutely best to let a professional repair service, like Guardsman On-Site Care and Repair take care of your furniture.  They will have the professional products that will provide long lasting results to these types of damages to leather and vinyl.

Leather peeling

Peeling & Flaking

When a piece of leather furniture starts to peel, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a lost cause.

If your furniture is real leather or bonded leather and it peels, it’s not necessarily ruined.   It can be saved through re-upholstery.


Scratches on leather are relatively easy to fix, especially if they aren’t deep enough to create a hole in the material. Sometimes, if you resolve scratches on waxed leather with a blow dryer set to “warm,” the heat will help soften enough of the existing wax on the leather to redistribute it by gently massaging the area. Careful though, if your hand is getting overheated from the dryer, so is the leather. Another option is to have a Guardsman professional apply Pull Up Revive.  Pull Up Revive is a cream that will help the color reach the scratch and is used by Guardsman Professionals. This will help to take away some of those white lines we see in waxed leather as a result of just normal wear. If you have scratches in finished leather you may need the assistance from a professional leather repair expert.  They will have the appropriate products to ensure the color is accurate and the repair is long lasting.

Upholstered Furniture


Chances are if you are a pet owner — cat or dog — you probably let your beloved animal on the furniture. Sometimes it’s because the pet is the alpha of the house and does what it wants — you know what we’re talking about! Other times, we just love cuddling on the couch, or in bed, with our furry friend. But that same furry friend — the one who causes you to talk in a high-pitched baby voice and curtail to its every need — may be intentionally, or unintentionally, damaging your upholstered furniture.

The fluffier the dog the better, right? Furry animals should essentially come with a lifetime supply of lint rollers — because those quickly become your best friend. But lint rollers can only go so far in removing fur from fabric. The easiest, most cost-effective way to quickly lift fur off furniture is to put on a pair of rubber gloves, dampen them with water and wipe across the top of the fabric. Voilà! The fur will cling to the water and effectively remove it from the fabric of the furniture. If that doesn’t work, mix together a solution of water and fabric softener to spray on the upholstery. Wipe off the solution — and the fur — with a cloth.

Dogs on the sofa

The other major damage to upholstered furniture associated with pets is one that, unfortunately, we’re probably pretty familiar with: bodily functions. Urine and vomit are unwanted incidents inside a house — let alone on a piece of furniture. But, alas, as anyone who has had a puppy knows all too well, accidents are unavoidable.

To remove urine stains as they happen, first blot the area dry with a cloth to remove the excess moisture. Then, mix together a tablespoon each of dishwashing soap and vinegar with two cups of cold water. Using a white cloth (or one you know won’t bleed color!), sponge the solution onto the urine spot working from the inside out. Blot dry with a clean cloth and continue repeating the process until you can no longer see the stain.  Guardsman also has a Stain and Odor Eliminator that works well on all washable fabrics and rugs.

And much like humans, dogs and cats are not immune to the occasional upset stomach (despite eating, you know, the same thing every day of their lives). Vomit, while unappealing to look at, is relatively easy to clean up. Warning: graphic explanation ahead: If there are chunks in the vomit, first clean it up with a paper towel. Then, pour baking soda over the liquid remains. Once the area has dried, use the soft brush head vacuum attachment to lift it off the area. Repeat the process, letting the baking soda fully dry before cleaning it up. Pour some club soda over the spot and continue to blot the area dry until it’s all gone. Finally (phew!), rinse with water and allow the area to dry.  Guardsman Stain and Odor Eliminator also works well to remove vomit stains and odors from washable upholstery and rugs.

Cat on the sofaIf you are noticing general odors in your furniture, it may be time to have it professionally cleaned.  Doing a full fabric upholstery cleaning is a great way to keep your furniture healthy and smelling fresh.  Did you know that on average the dirtiest pieces of fabric upholstery in a home is usually the couch, the most frequently used reclining chairs, and dining chairs.  One thing that makes them become dirty faster is accumulating dust.  It’s not a bad idea to frequently remove the dust by vacuuming your upholstery.


Everyone loves to eat and drink while watching TV. And all is fine and dandy until something gets spilled onto your upholstered furniture. It’s unfortunate, and certainly frustrating, but it happens. Once a spill occurs on the material, always make sure to clean it up immediately. This will prevent the liquid or food from soaking beyond the fabric and into the core or construction materials.  And though this is an “after the fact” remedy, there are several preventive ways to pretreat your furniture. Purchasing furniture with a stain protector on the material is probably the easiest way to avoid a gigantic red wine stain on your couch. These types of fabrics are chemically treated to resist liquid absorption. But if your furniture’s material has not been treated with this feature, go ahead and spray-on a fabric protection formula such as the Guardsman Fabric Defense product.  This is a great way to add an invisible barrier of protection. When applying, make certain the fabric is dry and not wet and don’t put it back into normal use for an hour or so or until you are sure the newly applied fabric protection is completely dry. If you are in a hurry to entertain or use the furniture, place a small fan near the furniture, it will accelerate the dry time.

Child on the sofaTears

Here’s the good thing about finding a tear in a piece of upholstered furniture: if you know how to sew, you’re more than likely going to be able to fix this on your own. You can either fully sew it, or patch it back together using another piece of fabric. To use the patch method, find a piece of heavy-duty fabric that is slightly larger than the size of the tear. You’ll want to place the new fabric beneath the torn hole and then smooth the patch out so it lays flat. Then, apply fabric glue such as Tear Mender to the ripped part of the original fabric. Smooth the upholstery tear down over the patch so that they both lay smooth, and then pin the two pieces together until it dries completely.

To sew the tear back together, first coat the frayed edges with a layer of liquid seam sealant and allow it to dry. Then fold the edges of the tear under. This will help prevent you from using the weaker areas of the frayed edges. Using a curved upholstery needle and nylon thread, make tight, close-knit stitches across the tear until you reach the other side. Knot it and voila! The repair will be visible but you just repaired your furniture tear.

Fixing Hardware

Upholstery repair

Age and overuse can take a toll on the hinges, handles and screws of your furniture. Thankfully, though, fixing these types of damages are easy to do and don’t take a lot of your time. With a little wood filler or putty, you can easily fill a nail hole in order to replace an old piece of hardware with a new one. Things like stripped screws, ripped door hinges and wooden knobs are all easily repaired with the use of either of the aforementioned tools. In the case of wooden knobs, once you apply the putty or filler, you’ll want to sand the area down until its smooth. Then apply paint or stain that matches the color of the original wood.

When To Call Guardsman On-Site Care and Repair

Not only does repairing furniture take dedicated time out of a busy day, it can sometimes be stressful figuring out how to best tackle fixing the damage. It’s always a point of pride to be able to say you repaired it on your own, but at the end of the day, it might just be easier and faster to call a professional. In these situations, Guardsman professionals are just a call away.

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