How to tell your furniture’s finish

Wood furniture is the most common piece of decor you can find in the average home. It is common for wood furniture to be passed down through generations from one family member to another.

The stately nature of wood furniture also makes it a popular addition to almost every type of design scheme imaginable. However, it also requires a certain level of care that isn’t necessary with synthetic or metallic furniture. It is very important to know what type of finish is already on your furniture before you attempt to fix any minor imperfections or try to refinish it.

Older furniture was often finished with a mixture of linseed oil and various chemicals. It was a basic finishing solution that was only meant to repel miniscule amounts of water. Furniture older than 50 years may still be refinished using this mixture. You should not redo this type of finish yourself unless you don’t care about its value as an antique.
Newer furniture is often finished with a polyurethane coating. Polyurethane is an inexpensive and durable finish that can take a lot of abuse before requiring refinishing. Oil-based finishes are sometimes used on more expensive furniture.

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