What's the difference between furniture restoration and refinishing?

Furniture refinishing and restoration are different processes, and each can bring new life to older pieces. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Sioban H.)

Furniture refinishing and restoration are different processes, and each can bring new life to older pieces. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Sioban H.)

If you have furniture that needs professional attention, it's a good idea to know some of the terms of the trade before you hire someone. Here's some information to help you:

Restoration

In most cases, restoration refers to light cleaning and cosmetic repairs. The goal is to maintain an antique or vintage piece's structural integrity and outer appearance so it retains its value.

Refinishing

Refinishing usually involves stripping the piece of furniture of its current finish. For a wooden piece, a chemical stripper is generally used, after which the item is sanded, stained and refinished. With refinishing, there is a chance a refinished piece may lose some of its value. So be sure to do your research and make sure the furniture contractor you hire is an expert.

Exceptions

Refinishing is often a more in-depth process than restoration, although some people use the terms interchangeably or consider refinishing to be a specific type of restoration. Therefore, be sure to be clear when communicating with a furniture contractor to avoid any confusion or disappointment.

 

For more information, see the Angie's List Guide to Furniture Refinishing. When considering hiring a furniture expert, consider how Angie's List can help. Members have access to local consumer reviews on furniture repair, restoration and refinishing experts, as well as service providers in more than 550 other categories.


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