I have been refinishing furniture for a few years…really ever since I got married almost 9 years ago. Our furniture budget was non-existent. Outside of items that were gifted to us, I don’t think we bought a single piece of furniture till year 3 of our marriage and even then it was nothing fancy and came well-loved. Giving me the opportunity to refinish and give it a new life. Over the years I have found my practical must-have items for refinishing furniture!
If you are brand new to the game or have been dabbling for a while then these items will definitely make your life easier! Now depending on the project and what I am doing with the piece of furniture, my list would change but these are my most used things for almost any project! I know some of yall are side-eyeing that I have sander at the top of my list. Get one! You’ll thank me later!
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My Practical Must Have List for Refinishing Furniture!
- Electric Sander – orbital, mouse, palm
- Hand Sander
- 4-Inch Roller
- Mini Paint Tray – or this one with a roller, refill covers, and paint tray!
- Foam/Sponge Brushes
- Basic Set of Tools
An electric sander is the best y’all. There are multiple options to choose from to fit your needs the best. I see random orbital sanders recommended most often and it is what I have. It is random because it does not move in a circle it just moves randomly…clever right!? A mouse sander is smaller and more compact. I also have one of these and it is very handy for smaller projects; it cant get into areas that an orbital never will. The next option is a palm sander. The base of these is square and use sheets of sandpaper (like these) instead of special hook and loop ones made to fit the other two options. These sheets of paper are usually cheaper to replace too.
To stain a piece of furniture, you should be removing the existing finish down to bare wood. It is a heck of a lot easier with an electric sander than a hand sander. Yes, using a stripping agent is an option. However, after stripping you need mineral spirits to remove the stripping residue. Plus, I almost always give a light sanding afterward anyways. So if I had to pick between sanding or stripping I will usually sand it. For budget-conscious reasons, a sander is going to give you a bigger bang for your buck too!
ANOTHER sander…YES. An electric sander is amazing to have! Unless your piece of furniture is flat with no small nooks or uneven spots then you will need to do some hand sanding and this one is my very favorite. I have had the same one for years. This one is the closest I could find to the one I have and I love it! I just replace the hook and loop sandpaper strips when needed. It comes in various grit options which are super helpful! It is easy to hold onto and squishy so it can mold into non-flat areas which is incredibly handy.
I used it when I re-did my kitchen table and chairs. The chairs had low spots for your bum and I had to do a lot of hand sanding in those areas to prep for stain. I also occasionally use this with a fine-grit in between coats of paint. Often times when using heavier grit sandpaper to remove an existing finish it will leave the wood rough which you do not want. So I lightly hand sand it with fine-grit paper to remove the rough spots obtaining a nice, smooth finish.
4-Inch Paint Roller
I love rollers and will pick one over a paintbrush every time. You get much better coverage without any streaks and takes less time to cover a surface than a paintbrush. You can choose from different roller covers (the actual part that applies the paint) that will leave various textures. I most often use the foam ones for a smoother texture. Rollers also will never leave brush strokes on your pieces which are hideous to have. Get a nice smooth paint job every time!
Mini Paint Tray
Do yourself a favor from the beginning and get a paint tray that fits a 4-inch roller. I played the “dip it in a can like a paintbrush” for so long. Trying to conserve paint and save money. Do not be like me it isn’t saving you much paint. Buy the mini paint tray it will make your life easier. It speeds up the process, allows better control of how much paint you want on your roller, and is easier to move around and hold onto than a can of paint! Do yourself a favor and buy this combo that has the roller, foam refill covers, and a tray…it’ll save you money!
I LOVE foam brushes. They seem to be so underutilized in the refinishing world but I use at least one on every project. They mimic the same texture as a foam roller and can get into places that the foam roller can’t. Ultimately creating a seamless and satisfying finish for your piece! Plus they are easy to wash and so inexpensive that you can toss after staining making life that much easier.
Now I have about the easiest way to wash your hands when working with oil-based products. However, sometimes you just can’t be bothered with another step. Removing stain-covered gloves and tossing them in the trash is about as easy as it comes. With three young children, I have found myself in the middle of a project and someone needs immediate attention. Washing hands is not an option and I definitely would rather avoid ruining an outfit with dirty hands. So easy peasy! Gloves are now considered essential.
Deglosser aka liquid sandpaper is very handy to have around! This unfortunately does not replace actual sanding in some cases but can in others. If you are wanting to refinish a piece that doesn’t have any flaking or chipping paint then this is a great option. This also works great when a furniture piece has carved wood or trim that is very detailed and impossible to get a sander in. Wanting to give this a try then read about how you can paint without sanding in two simple steps.
Basic Set of Tools
Keeping a budget in mind I am recommending this basic set. It has a lot in it. Most you probably won’t use on refinishing projects but I bet you will use many of these around the house if you do any DIY projects! Yes, power tools always speed things but are not necessary. Taking apart furniture can make your project move easier and faster! I had my own before I got married they eventually got mixed in with my husband’s tools and I hated tracking them down. So I bought myself a cheap toolbox and a new basic set of tools. I use them frequently for more than just refinishing projects.
I bet your garage houses a tarp or two…or twenty. Get your own tarp! You can get cheap ones on amazon that are so handy to have and be your own. Having your own for refinishing projects means you always have access to it. Plus you don’t want to spend your precious painting time cleaning the ones from the garage off so dirt won’t accidentally get on your fresh paint. A tarp is going to allow you to work anywhere in your house so you aren’t moving furniture all over the place just to make it look nice. An even better tip get some small command hooks to stick on your wall behind the piece of furniture you are working on. Hook the grommets from the tarp on the command hooks to protect your wall from any accidental splatter.
Last but not least is a paintbrush. This Wooster shortcut brush is my most used paintbrush. I also have this oval brush and like it for bigger areas. It holds a lot of paint so it is not ideal for smaller or detailed projects. I know I mentioned the foam roller and is my favorite way to paint and I fully stand by that. Sometimes a roller is not an option. Some products need to be applied with a paintbrush. If I am blending I much prefer a paintbrush. Some clear top coats I use a paintbrush and things like that.
Wrapping It Up
Refinishing furniture can be overwhelming especially if you are new to the scene. There is SOO much advice out there; some really great and others not so much. I love to try new things and have used many recommended items. Some of those are on this list and most have never been touched since. That is why I wanted to create this list of PRACTICAL must-have items for refinishing furniture. No, you probably don’t need every item on this list for a single project. I bet (and hope) it got you a whole lot closer to making your decision on what you actually need for whatever project you have in mind though! If you plan on redoing multiple pieces or start buying, flipping, and selling I would recommend everything on this list for you!
So what do you think? If you refinish furniture is this a practical list of must-have items when refinishing furniture? What would you add or get rid of?
If you are a beginner does this list help or make things seem more daunting? Remember you do not need every item for a single project.
Do me a favor! Help me share this list with all your friends who may already dabble in refinishing furniture or your friends who want to but feel too overwhelmed to start. These practical must-have items will help them get a good start to refinishing their first piece of furniture! items I am here and want to help!