5 DIY Ways to Refinish and Refresh Old Furniture

Your tables and chairs have seen better days. But don't put your once-prized pieces out on the curb without trying an easy DIY solution first. Inspired by the popularity of our How to Fix a Furniture Finish gallery, here's a guide to This Old House's best how-tos and Step-by-Steps on repainting, refinishing-and refreshing-your furniture.

Lime a Table
How to lime a tableHow to lime a table
Giving a plain wood table an aged, whitewashed look takes no more than a few simple tools and products any beginner can tackle. Lime wash, a lime-and-water solution that gives wood a whitewashed look, was once applied to barns and fences for practical purposes: to deter insects and protect them from the elements. Today it's evolved into a purely decorative treatment, with less caustic liming wax lending hardwoods, such as oak and ash, that faded, aged appearance. Here, Floyd Rosini, a third-generation furniture restorer in Rocky Mountain, North Carolina, offers insight into the process, sharing his go-to products as well as a few cost-cutting measures for beginners→ How to Lime a Table

Create a Fun Paint-Splattered Finish
How to Create Paint-Spattered FurnitureHow to Create Paint-Spattered Furniture
Spattering really is something your kid could do, but that shouldn't trivialize its impact. "Spattering is an easy way to revive a blah piece of furniture and give it a custom touch," says decorative painter Ingrid Leess.

This child's desk set started out as plain plywood, so Leess first primed and painted with latex in a satin finish. If you're working with a painted piece, you can go directly to spatter.

Just mix equal parts satin latex-choose a color that contrasts with the base coat-and clear acrylic glaze, which gives the specks shine and dimension. Then lightly load a spatter brush, and tap it against a stick about 6 inches above the surface to create a hail of paint flecks. Do one surface at a time, letting it dry before turning the piece and spattering again. Here's the Step-by-Step→ How to Create a Fun Paint-Spattered Finish

Paint a Crackle Finish on Furniture
How to paint a crackle finishHow to paint a crackle finish
Vintage-furniture hounds spend years tracking down painted pieces that have just the right patina, its cracked layers of color just oozing with charm. You can shortcut that journey with contrasting shades of flat latex paint and a special medium that comes out of the can as a milky liquid, goes on clear, and shrinks and cracks the paint color layered on top of it, revealing glimpses of the base shade. Crackle medium ages furniture right before your eyes. Which means you can create your own version of a piece's history, with colors of your choosing, whether you're aging one that's actually old or not. (Colors used here: Benjamin Moore's Sweet Pea, base coat, and Autumn Purple, top coat.) Check out the full Step-by-Step guide→ How to Paint a Crackle Finish on Furniture

"Comb" Your Tabletop to Create a Herringbone-Pattern

How to How to
f you like the textured look of herringbone, see what a paint comb can do. Drawing a comb through wet colored glaze gave this plain laminate table an almost three-dimensional look. "This is one of my favorite tricks," says decorative painter Ingrid Leess. "The best part is, if you don't like the way the pattern looks, as long as the glaze is still wet you can just wipe it away and start again." See the full Step-by-Step→ How to Create a Herringbone-Pattern Tabletop

Faux-Age Painted Wood Furniture
How to Faux-Age Painted Wood FurnitureHow to Faux-Age Painted Wood Furniture
You've probably worn blue jeans that came already broken in from the factory, complete with bald spots in all the right places. Turns out you can take a similar approach to giving wood furniture an aged finish-fast. But instead of pumice stones and bleach, some matte paint and a little sandpaper do the distressing. The trick is to put down two coats of color-ideally a light one followed by a darker one-then selectively sand the edges, corners, and contours where natural wear would occur, revealing the paler base coat. Sand a little more to reveal glimpses of unpainted wood to further the effect. Here's the full Step-by-Step→ How to Faux-Age Painted Wood Furniture

Give Wood a Pickled Finish
How to Create a Pickled Finish on WoodHow to Create a Pickled Finish on Wood
Pickling, bleaching, whitewash-they're all variations on the theme of treating light-colored woods, usually pine, oak, or ash, to make them appear even lighter, almost ethereal. This "limed" look stems from the 16th-century European practice of infusing wood with a paste of caustic lime to ward off insect infestation. Even then, it was appreciated for its decorative value. Check out the easy 4-step process to getting the look pictured above→ How to Create a Pickled Finish on Wood