Sunday, February 23, 2014

Saving Furniture: Removing Veneer and Replacing with Paint


Today I am sharing a piece of furniture I found as trash set out by the road.
It was damp and moldy, the drawers stuck, and the veneer was coming up all over the top.

I let it dry out in our shed over the summer as it gets very hot in there.
I was happy and surprised that the drawers then worked much easier,
so I decided to try to save the piece to use in our basement.
After I scrubbed the whole piece off well, I set to work on that ragged veneer.

Getting the veneer off was a job,
but mostly just because it takes a lot of patience and time.
I am not fond of jobs that take patience, but I thought this would be worth it.
(I watched the Olympics while I worked, so that made the time go by.
I will think of skiing when I look at it for some time, I think).

I placed a wet towel all of the top of the piece and let it soak for several hours.
Then I came back and pried up what would come off.
There were two layers to the veneer that had to be removed.

 This process was repeated over and over again for about 3 days,
working on it as I had the chance 
and soaking pieces that were too stubborn.

 When the veneer was finally off,
I went over the whole top of it and spread wood filler in any holes or dings
and smeared a thin layer of it over the whole things 
(this works best if the whole surface is slightly damp).

This helped smooth out the surface as it was rather rough.

I then sanded the whole top with a small grit sandpaper
and then wiped it all off with a damp rag to remove the dust.

I then base coated the surface with the color I wanted to use,
let it dry,
measured the whole surface and divided it and marked it with chalk,...

and laid out a plan of design on the top.

I used Frog tape for the lay out of the pattern.

Once I had painted the color into the design,
I let it dry some and then pulled off the Frog tape.
Once dried, I added some vines, leaves, and flowers which you can see >HERE<.

I am working on redoing the basement and can't wait until it is finished.
I am excited to show you the details when it is done:
the coat closet my husband built from old cupboard doors and cedar planks,
the bright new colors of the walls,
the painted and speckled floor,
the new wall art...

it is going to be great to finally have that room looking nice!


  1. I don't understand how did you get that groovey looking part off? It looks like it was right under the veneer. Is that part of veneer and comes off too? Just wondering because you show photo with it then talk about putting wood putty on holes.

  2. Yes, sorry I didn't explain that well. There were actually two layers to this veneer. I was originally just going to remove the top layer, but when the wet towel sat on it, it made both layers bubble up. Once both layers were removed, it was the wood underneath that had some little holes and was rough. Hope that helps. :)

  3. Did you consider heating the veneer to remove it? What a job! But well worth it as it looks lovely!

  4. Thank you! :) I actually did try using an iron on it (as I read that suggestion online) but it wasn't successful for me, so I went back to the wet towel method. The wet towel method worked well because I wasn't in any hurry and could just let it sit until it was easy to get off and then let the really stuck sections continue to sit until they had loosened. It was a job of patience more than anything. It is a perfect piece to hold all our DVD's and videos: hopefully they will stay nice and orderly in their new home...but I may be hoping for a miracle. :)

  5. This turned out great! I am glad to know that if I have a messy veneered piece that I can save it! YAY! Love the top design!

  6. Tonya ... the dresser turned out really nice and I love how you finished the top.
    I just restored an old 6' oak school desk ... removing veneer from both sides of the top. It was an easy take-off by painting a small area of the veneer with vinegar (which will loosen glue) ... let it soak a few seconds, then sit a hot iron on it till hot or warmed. This sends vinegar steam to the glue and will loosen it (do not use your good iron) ... use a flexible putty knife to slide under the loose veneer. You have to do this when it is still hot because the glue will re-set. Work a small section at a time and keep it warm while working it off. Hope this helps next time.
    Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures

    1. Thanks so much Audrey! I looked up several ways to remove with veneer and never saw one mentioning vinegar but that makes sense. I will have to remember that next time...maybe I'll save on some time and elbow grease. :)

  7. Thank you so much for linking up with The Party Bunch... Love it! I am pinning!

    1. Thank you, Desiree. Pinterest is so much fun!


Thanks for your thoughts! If you have a question, I'll try to answer it.