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Repairing Wood Table Finish

Category Tables
Wood Table Finish
When the lacquer or vanish coating is damaged on a veneer or solid wood table top, there are numerous ways to fix it. This is a guide about repairing wood table finish.
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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
April 17, 2007

Just purchased a used coffee table that needs help. The stain on the wood was done poorly. Do I need to strip it to re-stain or can I stain over the old stain.

Rose from Malvern, PA

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April 18, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

Rose,

Usually you will want to strip it before you stain. In many cases, it will be hard to find an exact-match to the existing stain and even if you do get lucky enough to get a close match, there is no guarantee that the stain will absorb in the same way.

Depending on the damage / wear and tear, you might try putting a coating of Old English furniture polish on it before you go to the trouble of stripping and re-staining. I have found that you can often times get light surface scratches, etc, out with it.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 29, 2017

I have two tables about 2 years old, both have varnish issues and I don't understand how this happened. On my dinner table, I left a plastic bag from a comforter that I bought sitting on top. Then I was out of town for a few weeks and came home to pull the plastic bags off only to have these huge marks in the varnish that I can't wipe away.

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I tried mayo as in one suggestion and it didn't work. Any ideas because they look horrible :(

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July 29, 20170 found this helpful

This happened to me last summer. The only thing I could do was take a fine sandpaper and revarnish it. The plastic actually melted into the varnish so it wouldn't come out.

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By 0 found this helpful
January 31, 2017

I put a piece of tape on a table on accident and the varnish or coating came off. I was wondering how I can repair it?

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January 31, 20170 found this helpful

It needs to be sanded down and refinished. I think the entire table top must be done for an undetectable repair. I would hire a pro for this if the table is expensive or means a lot to you.

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By 0 found this helpful
January 22, 2017

The feet of a lazy Susan melted into the finish of the table. Also a mug over heated in the microwave and melted the finish through a mat. How do I repair? I was going to give it a light sanding then apply a coat of satin Varathane.

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January 22, 20170 found this helpful

You can sand it with very fine steel wool. They have matching wood crayons. There is also spray lacquer to finish the job.

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January 23, 20170 found this helpful

Different methods can work for many finishes but you should consider the value of the table before doing anything that you may regret.

You will need to use very find steel wool to carefully remove any buildup before thinking about how to finish.

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If you are just going to try and make the table presentable you could try using Old English - they make a scratch cover in dark and light. This works pretty good.

Minwax also makes these stain markers you can use to cover smaller scratches and they have a pretty wide range of colors. You can find them at Walmart or Lowes.

Generally you will need to use a good wax once you are satisfied with the repair.

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January 23, 20170 found this helpful

is the table worth anything>? if not anantique, then i would lightly sand it overall and add a stain .... and a finish....

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By 0 found this helpful
January 2, 2010

I tried the hot iron method for removing a water stain and I believe that I may have taken off some of the finish on my antique mahogany table. Some of the stain is still there and I am in process of the mayo suggestion now, as the iron thing did not work so well. Any way to resurrect the finish?

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By Steph from Gainesville, FL

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January 3, 20100 found this helpful

Go to-ronhazelton.com-lot of info there, good luck.

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January 7, 20100 found this helpful

This method truly does work, I have used it several times on different colored antique surfaces. Take cigarette ashes & cooking oil, make a paste, & rub it onto the water stain. The way I usually do it is put the end of a rag over my finger, dip it in cooking oil I have put in a saucer, then dip it into the ashes until they are pretty thick on the end of my finger & rub. You may need to go over the same area several times before you start seeing any results, but it will work. It's totally amazing & not really all that much work!

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November 13, 20160 found this helpful

If you mix ash and vegetable oil to a paste, then rub it on the white marks, it should go.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 27, 2016

While trying to clean sticky film from a wooden table, I rubbed the finish off down to the natural wood. It now is exposed and a different color than rest of table. What can I do?

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By 0 found this helpful
September 14, 2015

My table has spots from what looks like some sort of spray. I tried Guardsman Deep Clean, but it didn't do a thing. How can I get the spots off?

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September 15, 20150 found this helpful

It may sound weird, Kristin, but mayonnaise might help. My experience? I left a houseplant sitting on my piano bench and put a crocheted doily under the pot. Turns out the doily hid the fact I overwatered and man, what a nasty stain that left! It may even have been someone on this site who recommended using mayonnaise. I did. And be darned if it didn't take away the worst of the stain. I would, however, recommend testing a patch in an unobtrusive area, just to be sure it'll help your situation and not leave you cursing at me.

Good luck!

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September 16, 20150 found this helpful

It is hard to know what to recommend when you don't know what has caused the spots. Another thing that might help, if it looks like the finish is damaged, is rubbing with a walnut. I don't think that would hurt anyway. Like the mayonnaise, it would return some oil to the finish.

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November 6, 20140 found this helpful

I live in the desert 6 months at a time. I left plastic place mats on the table when I left and I now have 4 square marks on the table, not white or anything maybe more like shadows. Can any body help me?

By E. Buckshaw

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November 8, 20140 found this helpful

Leave the table uncovered, and perhaps, over time, the sun will fade the table to all one shade. I suspect that is what has happened. However, it may be that the plastic has discoloured the table top as well. However, other than covering the spots, letting them fade over time is the only suggestion I have. I am sure there is nothing you can do with cleaners or anything like that.

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By 0 found this helpful
January 12, 2007

My new cherry finish table has loads of scratches on the shiny finish. The wood itself is fine but the shiny finish looks like someone took sandpaper and swirled it all over. This table is brand new and it's not something I want to strip. Is there some type of polish that buffs out those surface scratches?

Thank you!
mbl687 from Boston, MA

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January 14, 20070 found this helpful

I would return the new table to the store-- it should not have that problem. When the new table arrives,if you have to assemble it-- make sure the table top is placed on a sheet at the least.

If you cannot return the table- you can talk to a wood worker-- for the best thing to do.

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By guest (Guest Post)
January 17, 20070 found this helpful

Old English makes a scratch cover in dark and light. You can get it in groceries, Walmart, KMart, Target, etc. It's like a polish and stain combined. I use it on my cherry dining table, and other antiques to cover/minimize the look of scratches and nicks.

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November 21, 20060 found this helpful

I have a question about repairing wood tables. I placed a hot pan on a piece of newspaper that was laying on the dining table. When I realized what I'd done I jerked it up and took the paper up, leaving a circular ridge on the table. It's almost as if the paper fibers stuck to the table. I've tried to get it off with baking soda and toothpaste and it's not worked. The mixture has left a very shiny spot on my otherwise soft matte finish table. So now I have this raised burned mark that is highlighted by a glassy shine. What should I do?

Finisnash

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November 22, 20060 found this helpful

Being in the woodworking arena for quite some time I've restored everything from antique pianos to end tables. Short of taking it back down to the natural wood and refinishing it you have to find the base product that the stain is made from in this case I would say it's the newspaper ink. Since the paper itself is a wood byproduct that shouldn't be you problem. I would call your local newspaper and ask them if they would know what would break down newspaper ink as I'm sure various inks are comprised of different base products.

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 22, 20060 found this helpful

Thanks! I'll phone the newspaper and inquire about their ink. Now, what can I do to minimize the high gloss that must be a result of either the baking soda or toothpaste? My table has a satin finish, so this REALLY shiny spot is very noticable.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 10, 2006

I spilled cherry Crystal Light on my light wood kitchen table. Without thinking, I used a magic sponge to get the red stain off. The sponge took off the stain and the finish as well. So far I am touching it up with Old English (for light wood). This only works temporarily because when you wipe the table clean some of the wax comes off until there is once again a bare spot. Is there any way I can fix this without refinishing an entire table top (which isn't an option right now)?

SusannL from St. Cloud, FL

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 13, 20060 found this helpful

I have refinished a couple of old things I found at yard sales with Homer Formby's refinishing and very fine steel wool. Just pour a good bit of the Homer Formby formula on the steel wool and move in circular motions until the entire surface is covered. Then, use another piece of steel wool and some clean formula in light, long strokes across the entire surface of the table. After the table has dried, cover with two coats of polyurathane acording to the directions. You can refinish just about anything for a total of $30 or so. Follow the directions and you can't go wrong. All of the items can be purchased at Walmart.

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July 14, 20060 found this helpful

Minwax makes these stain markers you can use to cover small scratches and they have a pretty wide range of colors. You can find them at WalMart or Lowes.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 26, 2016

I have a Hooker desk that I put a desk mat on. When I went to lift the mat, there was a sticky residue on the desk surface where the mat had been. I have been unable to remove it with wood cleaner and now paper sticks to the desk surface where the mat once was. Is there anything I can do to repair this? Thank you for your recommendations.

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July 27, 20160 found this helpful

I use cooking or mineral oil to remove labels from jars (the ones I want to re-use). The oil works great when removing those tacky / gummy residues. I wonder if it would work on your wood surface as well? Worst case, you won't damage the surface of the desk (wood loves oil).

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July 15, 20140 found this helpful

I need advice for cleaning a wood table due to melted place mat. My curling iron was on a place mat, a hard one not cloth that has cork board on the back, it melted some of the cork backing to the wood table. There appears to be surface damage.

By Heather

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July 18, 20140 found this helpful

I am very puzzled as to what you have done to the table. Cork is the bark of the cork tree, and does not melt. Cork burns or chars. If the placemat melted, then it wasn't cork, but likely plastic. What is the mark like on the table? Have you charred it with your curling iron? We need more info, perhaps a photo, to help you.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 19, 2008

I have an old coffee table. It has lots of nicks and scratches from our kids. What would be the easiest way to refinish it?

Jeff from Ohio

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March 21, 20080 found this helpful

Refinishing a small wood table isn't that difficult. They have some great orange smelling stripper on the market now. It cost less than 10 bucks for a bottle the size you would need for the table. If just the top is scratched just refinish the top part. You spread this stuff on, let it set and then scrape it off. Sand, stain if needed and finish with sealer. Not hard at all. Ten bucks and a little elbow grease could get you a really nice piece to keep in the family.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 15, 2016

3 years ago I placed a heavy rubber mat on the top of a stored wooden table. Now after removing the mat, the finish has small bubbles and small raised spots. Is there a fix without refinishing?

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By 0 found this helpful
March 7, 2016

My nail polish remover with acetone made a stain on my black nightstand that came off when I moved the nail polish remover top. What do I do?

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By 0 found this helpful
January 6, 2016

We have a glass top on our wood table. We were supplied plastic spacers. When we removed the glass for cleaning we found the plastic spacers had left shiny marks on the table. How can we restore the table?

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By 0 found this helpful
November 12, 2015

I left a set of vinyl coated weights on a table top during some hot weather and when I removed them they had melted the finish and left an impression where they had been. How can I repair this?

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By 0 found this helpful
August 10, 2015

I have an old mahogany dining room table. I moved it in the rain and the varnish stuck the table together. How can I unstick, to add the leaves?

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By 0 found this helpful
July 11, 2015

I have a dining room table, with inlaid wood, that is sun damaged on one end and the leaves are much darker than the rest of the table. I want to fix this so that the entire table is the same.

Will stripping and sanding the top remove the sun damaged part? Will I need to stain the wood to even the color? I am handy and can figure things out, but want to do this right. Can anyone help?

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May 2, 20140 found this helpful

I have a oak table that acetone as been dropped on. It has taken the top layer off and it is now rough. Does anyone know how I can repair this?

By Anne

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