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Minor Furniture Repairs that Help You Get the Most Out of Estate Sales

Minor Furniture Repairs that Help You Get the Most Out of Estate Sales

So you find a great chair for a steal while looking for vintage items, and you want to add it to your collection, but it’s tattered. It has good bones, but the leather is cracking and there are chips in the wood. You could pay to have it restored, but this often costs thousands of dollars, and at that point, you could buy something new and just as beautiful. Here are some furniture repair tips to help you rescue heirlooms. 

Leather Repairs

We have already covered leather repairs in an article here, but here is a brief outline: Leather kits are available to purchase from $20 to $50 and are pretty user friendly. Your first step will be to apply the backing fabric under the tear, then apply multiple coats of repair fluid. After this you’ll apply a dye mixture and then a sealant to hold it all together. If you have faux leather that is peeling, you can choose to reupholster the furniture with a genuine hide, our you can remove all the peeling chips, apply repair fluid without the backing fabric, then dye and seal as usual. 

Sky Lark House

Wood Chips

It’s relatively simple to fix small chips in wood at home. Step one will be to apply lacquer thinner with a rag to a hidden area. This will tell you if the furniture is polyurethane varnish or lacquer. If it’s lacquer, it will soften and rub off a bit. If it is indeed a lacquer finish, you can lightly mist the lacquer thinner over the affected area, and the finish will run, filling the nick. This will only work for small chips. Once the nick is filled, buff with steel wool and finish with a clear sealer.

Regular chips on wood can be filled with resin to build the shape back up. You might be able to find resin that matches the wood color, but if not clear will work fine. Mix the resin with the hardener and apply to the chipped area. Let it stiffen a bit, then use a flat tool to form it. Allow it to dry for 24 hours before continuing. Sand it down, feathering the edges. Brush on acrylic paint to match the base wood color, and allow this to dry. Select a darker paint that mimics the colors of the groove, and try to follow the grain pattern with it. Finally, finish with a clear lacquer that matches the gloss of the rest of the piece. 

The Family Handyman


If the fabric on your furniture is tearing or dirty, it’s relatively easy for you to reupholster the piece. The first step is to select the right kind of fabric–furniture will take a lot of wear and tear, so you need something thick and durable. If you’re visiting a fabric store they will probably have a “home” section with thick woven fabrics. You’ll need a staple gun, a hammer, and maybe a sewing machine depending on the construction of the piece.

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Remove the cushions from your furniture by unscrewing or prying off the wooden seat with a knife. Look for the old staples and pry them off to remove the old fabric. Line up the center of your fabric piece with the center of the seat and begin to pull and staple around the edges. As you continue to cover the piece, keep pulling so the fabric is taut. Continue this process with all pieces of the furniture that are covered in fabric. 

HSI Hotel Furniture

If you have cushions that are pushed into a zipped fabric covering, you’ll need to rebuild this cover. Pull the cushion out then use a seam ripper to carefully dismantle the pieces, being sure not to rip them. Once you have all the elements separated, lay the pieces on top of your new fabric and cut around the edges so you have a new piece for every old piece. Lay the front-facing sides of the fabric together when re-sewing so the seams remain inside of the cover. Slip the cushion in and either zip or sew it closed.
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