Is My Wood Furniture Worth Refinishing?

Is My Wood Furniture Worth Refinishing?

Wood furniture can be found in a majority of homes around the world. After all, it’s sturdy, durable and comes in a variety of colors and styles. Deciding whether or not to refinish wood furniture is largely dependent on the cost of the furniture, as well as any personal value placed on it. Since wood furniture refinishing is labor intensive, it makes a great rainy day DIY project. It’s important to be able to identify when a piece should be saved versus when it should be taken to the dumpster.

Antique furniture refinishing


Antiques are defined as being 100 years old or older. And while something may technically be considered “antique,” that doesn’t necessarily mean it holds a lot of value. Generally speaking, anything produced before 1850 should be professionally assessed as to whether or not it is worth conserving or restoring. Trying to refinish centuries-old furniture, without using a professional, can damage the furniture and lessen its value. The only exception to this rule is if the item has more personal value to you than what it is worth. If that is the case, refinishing the furniture will allow you to change the stain, or even the color, of the furniture to better match the décor of your house.

However, wood furniture made between 1850 and 1960 are actually ideal candidates for refinishing. This is because the furniture was made in a sturdier way during that period. Manufacturers used dovetail and tongue-and-groove joints to secure wood pieces together. Building pieces of wood furniture with these methods created more reliable, longer lasting furniture than what is made today. Pieces produced during this time have solid wood backings instead of plywood as well. You can also identify the age of a piece of furniture by its hardware. Should your furniture have any of these indications, or a manufacturer’s imprint, you are in the all clear to start refinishing. Just make sure to do some research to decide what type of lacquer or finish would be best for the piece of furniture.

Structure Sturdiness

Another quick way to check if a piece of furniture is worth refinishing is by gently trying to shake the furniture back and forth. If it shifts under the weight of your hands, the glue is coming loose in the joints. Loose joints indicate the need to take apart the furniture and re-glue it. Re-gluing can be tedious and time-consuming, so if you are uncertain of your ability to properly re-glue a piece of furniture, let the Guardsman professionals take the project off of your hands.

Wood furniture sturdiness

Wood furniture refinishing tips

MDF means medium density fiberboard. So in layman’s terms, MDF wood is a synthetically produced wood that is stronger than natural wood. It stands up better to changes of heat and humidity as well and is more cost-efficient for manufacturers. When it comes to furniture production, MDF is covered with a wood laminate — essentially a photograph of wood. As we mentioned previously, there is a specific period of wood furniture production that is best for wood furniture refinishing. That’s because after 1960, manufacturing companies started cutting corners in production quality. Dovetail joints were replaced with glue and nails while solid wood was replaced with MDF.

Furniture purchased at mass retailers generally use MDF. If that’s the case, we recommend replacing the piece of furniture. To figure out whether or not your piece of furniture is real wood or not, simply sand a small, hidden piece of the furniture. If the underlying piece of wood does not have the same grain as you can see on the surface, you know you have artificial wood.

These wood refinishing tips are key identifiers that will help you determine whether or not your piece of furniture is worth refinishing. Most refinishing projects can be handled over the course of a weekend, but if you are unsure about your refinishing abilities, or would just rather a professional handle the job, Guardsman has your back.

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