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How Do You Restore Dark Wood Furniture?

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Dark wood furniture gives a different accent to your home. It gives a more formal and intimate look together with other home decors that you have. What if your wood furniture starts to get old and look dull?

How do you restore dark wood furniture?

How Do You Restore Dark Wood Furniture?

You can restore dark wood furniture naturally or with the use of some chemicals. Cleaning the wood is the first step in restoring your furniture. After that, you have to identify what color and type of stain or finish was used in your furniture to apply the same if necessary. 

Outdoor wooden table

Restoring dark wood furniture will not be hard if proper care is given from the beginning. Maintenance is necessary to keep any of your wood furniture in its pristine condition. Below are some ways on how to restore your dark wood furniture.

Things You Need to Restore Dark Wood Furniture

Generally, these are the materials that you need when restoring wood furniture. Some materials here may change or may not be necessary depending on the needs of your dark wood furniture. So, it is very important to assess your furniture before starting the process of restoration. 

  • Protective goggles
  • A pair of gloves
  • Mask 
  • Paintbrushes
  • Tack cloth
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Coarse to fine-grit sandpaper
  • Chemical stripper (if necessary)
  • Stripping/scraping tool
  • Polisher (natural or commercial, depending on your preference)
  • Paint finish or oil
  • Stain
  • Wood filler

How to Restore Dark Wood Furniture: Step-by-Step Guide

Once you have prepared the necessary materials for your restoration project, it is now time to begin working. You may not be able to use all of those materials above and that’s okay. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to restore dark wood furniture to its natural look.

Wear Your Protective Gear

To keep you and your family safe, do your restoration process outside the house. Wear your protective goggles, gloves, and mask. This is to make sure that you are safe from inhaling too many chemicals or holding them with your bare hands. 

Dark wood table with fruit peelings around it

Choose a well-ventilated area, away from combustible materials, and away from kids or pets. Read the instructions on the product label to make sure you are using it correctly to avoid mishaps.

Clean the Surface of the Furniture

Clean the surface of the wood furniture with 1 tbsp. liquid soap and a gallon of warm water. Use a tack cloth in cleaning the surface of the wood. Avoid putting in excess water to avoid damaging the wood and its finish. Rinse it thoroughly and wipe it dry with another clean cloth. 

If you don’t wish to remove the old finish, this cleaning solution would be the best choice. However, if it doesn’t work, you might need a solvent, such as mineral spirit, to restore the dark wood furniture.

Fix Stains on the Wood Furniture

Stains on dark wood furniture are very visible especially if it causes some fading on the surface. Part of the restoration is removing these stains. You can try using petroleum jelly to fix the stains from glasses or spilled liquids. Allow it to stay there overnight to remove or hide the stains. 

Wipe the petroleum jelly off the surface of the wood using a piece of cloth. If this home remedy didn’t work out, you can try looking for alternative products created to remove those rings. Do not use it all over the furniture especially if that’s your first time.

Test it on a small hidden spot first then wait for any change in color.

Repair Cracks, Chips, Dents, or Scratches

Check your dark wood furniture for any scratches, cracks, chips, or dents. It may be very visible if it reaches the deeper surface of the wood, sometimes it’s unnoticeable. To fix those small cracks, chips, or scratches on the surface of the wood, you can use some wood filler which helps in repairing wooden products or wax that matches the color of the paint finish.

Dark wood furniture inside a cabin

If the wax color doesn’t match the present color of the furniture, you can cover it later with a stain or finish.

Apply Stain and Protective Finish

After filling up all the gaps and holes in the dark wood furniture, it is now time to bring back its shine. You can start by applying a gel stain using a soft, lint-free cloth, especially on the part of the furniture with a different color. 

Let it stay for a few minutes and then wipe the excess liquid with a clean piece of cloth. Allow it to dry overnight. Using a gel stain saves you from the stripping and sanding process. Also, it dries up faster than a primer or paint.

Lastly, to bring back the glossy finish of your dark wood furniture, you need to apply a wood finish. Wipe it off in a circular motion and let it stay on the surface of the furniture for at least 5 minutes. Remove the excess wood finish using a separate cloth. For better results, leave it there overnight.

Related Questions

Can I Use Vinegar to Clean My Dark Wood Furniture?

Vinegar mixed with water and some essential oil can be effective in cleaning dark wood furniture. This solution will not damage the wood finish and will not leave any stain. Vinegar solution is a great alternative for chemical cleaners. However, you cannot use vinegar alone in cleaning your furniture because of its acidity.

How Do You Make Dark Wood Furniture Look New Again?

Dark wood furniture can look new again by applying a stain or a single coat of paint on its surface. Before applying a wood stain or paint, you need to sand it a little to make the surface even or a little rough. It will help the paint or stain to bond with the surface of the wood.


You can restore dark wood furniture using different steps. First, you have to assess the condition of your furniture to identify what it needs, in some cases you might need to strip your furniture. Clean the surface of the wood and fill the cracks or chips on it. Apply a gel stain and finish to restore its shine.