A frequently asked question about older furniture: “Is this piece worth refinishing?” There is no simple answer.

If the furniture is old enough to be an antique – furniture is usually considered an antique when it is around 100 years old – and you can increase the value by fixing it up, then the answer is yes. If you are doing so hoping to sell for a profit, remember that you have to find a buyer and that sometimes takes a long time.

Some other factors to consider when deciding whether or not to refinish your furniture include:

whether it is well made,

whether you have a use for it,

and whether it can be refinished for a cost effective amount.

Normally, you can save at least 60% or more by redoing furniture you own or pick up cheap at a tag sale, rather than buying new. The cost of a new dining set can cost upwards of $7,000, while a table, six chairs and a hutch can be refinished for around $1,500.

When deciding if a piece is well made, look for solid wood construction, such as dovetail drawers. Veneers are okay as long as there is no particle board underneath. You can take an old maple hutch from the 40s or 50s – furniture was very well made during that time period – and use a new cherry stain with black paint accents and update the hardware to bin pulls. This allows you to take a very dated piece and make it look like it was newly purchased from a fine furniture store.

People are sometimes pleasantly surprised to find that older painted furniture can be hiding great treasures underneath all those ugly layers of paint. Stripping a small area will reveal what’s hiding underneath and let you know what the end result will be if you decide to refinish. If you’re not doing the refinishing yourself, look for a refinishing shop that will do samples for free and who will be happy to help you through the process of deciding whether your furniture is trash or treasure.

Many furniture pieces today are massed produced on assembly lines. A professionally refinished piece is created like custom furniture with only the best of stains and finishes all done by hand. Every inch of furniture is inspected to make sure that each part is well-glued and functioning properly. In most cases, the refinished furniture is better than when it was new. Refinishing furniture is also very good for our environment because you are reusing and recycling something rather than trashing it and hauling it to our overflowing landfills. This is not only a cost savings for you, but it is earth friendly for us all.

For more information about furniture refinishing, contact Cathy at 782-7511 or visit Morin’s Fine Furniture at 245 Center St., Auburn.

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