How to Restore Varnished Wood

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How to Restore Varnished Wood

Those who own wood furniture can choose from a few options when trying to protect the wood. These solutions include applying different finishes, such as paint, lacquer, shellac, and varnish. A varnish finish provides a deep brown-coloured look to a piece of wooden furniture while also forming a protective layer. The best thing owners can do to protect their varnished wood furniture is to clean and maintain it on a regular basis. However, even with regular cleaning and maintenance, scratches, bubbles, and cracks can occur, resulting in the need for restoration, so owners should know how to restore varnished wood and how to find wood varnishes locally or on eBay.

Types of Oil Based Wood Varnish

Owners should know the types of wood varnishes available before starting any restoration project. An oil-based varnish offers a stronger finish than other wood treatments like shellac and lacquer. When deciding on which oil-based varnish to use, furniture restorers can choose from a few options, including polyurethane, alkyd resin, and phenolic resin varnishes.

Varnish Type


Polyurethane Varnish

Most common oil-based varnish type

Tough and abrasion resistant

Available in various sheens from glossy to satin finishes

Alkyd Resin Varnish

Less expensive than other oil-based varnish types

Commonly used in commercial varnishes

Typically combined with alcohol and an acid

Phenolic Resin Varnish

Made of phenol, a plastic, and formaldehyde

Mixed with oil and made into a liquid

Applied to the wood and allowed to harden, creating the finish

Shoppers can also choose from long or medium oil varnishes. The type of varnish owners need depends primarily on whether the wood is located outside or inside. Outside items need the flexible varnish found in a long oil, while interior items only need a medium oil varnish that does not flex as easily as long oil varnishes do.

How to Restore Varnished Wood

Furniture owners should clean the wood regularly. When damage does happen, such as bubbles, craters, and scratches, furniture owners can do certain things to restore the wood's beautiful varnished finish.

Cleaning Varnished Wood

Before attempting any repairs, owners should clean the varnished wood. By using an oil-based commercial wood cleaner, owners can cut through the dirt and grime that tends to build up on wood varnish over a period of years.

Apply a generous amount of cleaner to the wood surface and let sit for up to two hours. Using a clean cloth, wipe the cleaner from the wood. Reapply, if necessary, until the wood looks clean. Once clean, owners can buff the wood to restore its shine.

Preventing Bubbles and Craters

To prevent the varnish finish from bubbling during application, make sure to stir the container of varnish gently; never shake to mix. Air bubbles in the varnish can remain on the surface, or even pop, forming craters in the surface of the finish. When using a foam brush, tap the brush on the side of the container before applying the varnish, or gently press the brush against the side of the container to remove excess varnish.

Fixing Scratches and Holes

To fix a nail hole or void, owners can use wood putty. Shoppers can buy small cans of various coloured putties to mix and match the colour of the wood. Some common colours that can help owners achieve the perfect match include light oak, dark walnut, and red mahogany. After mixing the correct colour, fill the hole with putty until the hole is flush with the wood's surface.

For flaking varnish with stained wood still visible underneath, applying a few coats of oil finish to the damaged area after removing the loose varnish should suffice. For scratches with bare wood visible, owners need to restain the wood. After removing the damaged varnish, apply a lighter coloured oil-based stain with a clean rag or even use the stain that comes in marker form. After applying the stain, apply varnish to the repaired area using a wipe-on oil finish to match the rest of the wood piece.

How to Buy Wood Varnish on eBay

Shoppers can find a wide range of varnishes of various colours while shopping on eBay. To find wood varnishes on eBay, shoppers can type keywords in the Search bar on any of the site's pages. This pulls up a list of results and categories, allowing shoppers to search according to the price they want to pay.

When shopping for a wood varnish, furniture owners should pay particular attention to the colours available so they can choose a varnish that closely matches the colour of their current furniture. This allows for easier restoration or refinishing of the wood items, including wood chairs, tables, and desks.

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