I’ve painted lots of furniture over the past 8+ years, and thankfully many have started out in pretty decent condition. It’s always a relief when you inspect a secondhand dresser and…
- there are no broken pieces
- no chipping veneer
- all the drawers slide easily
- all of the above = jackpot!
But unfortunately most of the old furniture being sold or given away has some issues. I’ve addressed many ways to repair wood furniture that’s damaged in various tutorials on this blog, so I thought it would be helpful to list them all here in one place. Then you can Pin or save this post for easy reference later.
Topics for how to repair wood furniture that are covered below:
- How to Remove Contact Paper
- How to Remove Paint from Wood
- Ways to Repair Cracked or Peeling Veneer
- How to Get Rid of Smells in Old Furniture
- How to Repair Scratches or Gouges in Furniture
- How to Fix Chipped Wood Furniture like a Broken Foot or Drawer Corner
- How to Address Ink Stained Drawers
- How to Prevent Bleed Through Before Painting
- How to Properly Prep Furniture for Painting
- The Burled Wood Debate: Repair, Refinish, or Paint?
- Favorite Products for Doing DIY Makeovers
How to Remove Contact Paper
Contact paper has some helpful benefits, but when you decide you don’t want it in your drawer anymore, it can be a big pain to remove. Learn how to easily remove contact paper here.
How to Remove Paint from Wood
Ways to Repair or Remove Damaged Veneer
If the veneer on your furniture is slightly cracked and needs repaired – or if it’s so badly damaged that it need to be completely removed – visit the tutorials below by clicking on the photos to learn how to fix different veneer problems.
Often, you can completely save furniture that has damaged veneer. After repairing or removing veneer, you can paint right over the top or add a brand new wooden top piece as a replacement.
How to Get Rid of Smells in Old Furniture
The French Provincial dresser that I scored below was gorgeous – but also horribly smelly. Often you can get rid of smells in furniture just by priming and painting – but I planned to leave the inside of the drawers unpainted. I’ve tried several “tricks” over the years and finally found one method that has worked better than any others… read about this French Provincial dresser makeover here (and there are more ideas in the comments section too).
How to Repair Scratches and Gouges in Furniture
The easiest way to repair small wood blemishes is with wood filler (I like using Elmer’s ProBond with a putty knife), but sometimes you need something stronger. I’ve heard Bondo works amazing for repairing damaged wood furniture, and plan to try it the next time I have a big repair to make. Fellow furniture painter Amy shares her tips here for how to repair scratches and gouges in wood furniture.
How to Fix Chipped Wood Furniture – Like a Broken Foot or Chipped Drawer Corner
Don’t let a chunk missing out of a leg or drawer stop you from tackling a furniture makeover project. In fact, the end table below also had a busted shelf which I ended up removing. The painted desk below is from wayyyy back in the archives, but the chipped wood repair is still very relevant. Click on the photos below to read the full tutorials for how to fix chipped wood.
How to Address Ink Stained Drawers
Unfortunately I’ve encountered many, many drawers where it seems like an ink pen (or an entire box of markers) has exploded inside. Yikes! This is one situation where primer will probably not help. Discover how I decided to address the ink-stained drawer situation for this French Provincial desk makeover seen below.
How to Prevent Bleed Through Before Painting
Some types of furniture are destined to bleed through, especially ones with orange, red, or very dark stains. The chest below gave me a hard time but after several coats of shellac primer, the tannins were sealed in. Read about this cedar chest makeover here.
I also recommend priming laminate furniture before painting, or whenever you want to paint furniture bright white. That will help stop bleed through before it happens so you don’t have any regrets later!
How to Properly Prep Furniture for Painting
Friend, after you’ve made any necessary repairs there’s also some prep work you should do before painting furniture. You can review the complete guide for how to prep furniture like a pro here.
The Burled Wood Debate
A discussion about making furniture repairs isn’t complete without mentioning special situations like burled wood. Some rare finishes need extra caution before attempting to fix them. Learn about what burled wood is and how to decide whether to repair, refinish, or paint it here.
Favorite Products for Doing DIY Makeovers
Lastly, over the years I’ve tried a lot of tools and products for working on DIY makeovers. Some were not that great, but I’ve compiled all of my favorites in a list here for your convenience.
Friend, I hope this article for how to repair common types of damaged wood furniture will be a helpful resource for you when doing your future furniture makeovers. And if you have other helpful advice to add, please leave a comment below – I’d love for you to share your experience too! – Jen
Lisa Johnson says
How do u remove white marks off dining room table
Jen, Girl in the Garage says
Hi Lisa, I’d really need a lot more information to help with that. What type of marking is it, what’s the wood type and finish of the dining table, possibly even photos.
How do I get drawers to side easily. I have a very old piece I’ve been working on in my garage and the drawers will not slide in well. I don’t know what I did or what I should do. My husband thinks it is because of the humidity in the garage. Could you possibly help me and give me advice. I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.
Jen, Girl in the Garage says
Hi Lori, for drawers the quickest fix is to sand the edges of wherever they’re rubbing. Sometimes humidity does cause the wood to warp or swell.
You can also rub wax (like a candlestick) on the bottom to help them glide better.
Hope that helps!