Chair Restoration and Repair

These old Windsor chairs go back to over 35 years. They were given to us as hand-me-downs from Anne’s father from their time in Chicago when they first came to America from France. The four chairs were chipped, uneven and had definitely seen better days.

I really liked the idea of bringing them back to life and couldn’t imagine replacing them, so we had an idea to make these two toned to match the dresser flip from a while back and and the table restoration project we’d just finished. But first things first. We had to remove all that glossy stain and varnish.

How we rate this project


Equipment list


On to the project

It began with sanding. Lots and lots of sanding!We’re not fans of chemicals and from what we read, we would probably have to do a lot of sanding anyway, so this was going to be quite a bit of work.


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The sanding took quite some time. About 90 minutes per chair. But getting lost in the process and watching the natural wood begin to show was pretty rewarding and the further we got the more possible it all seemed.

We used 80 grit sand paper to really dig in but not gouge the wood, which we felt might happen if we used 60 grain or anything too course. At the same time We didn’t want things to take far too long with too fine a grit, like 100.

Of course we made sure to wear a mask, safety goggles etc.

Once everything was to a point where we both were satisfied, we wiped them down thoroughly with a sponge and water to remove all dust, then cleaned up the working area and got ready for the fun part. Staining.

chair 7

Now this isn’t the best looking can but that’s because we got a lot of use out of it. This same can was used on a couple other projects.

Tip: Be sure to use rubber gloves though or it will stain your fingers!


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Again, we wanted to go for a two toned look. So once we got the seats rich enough and deep enough in color, we were ready to tape them up and then paint.

We applied perhaps three coats of stain and four coats of polyurethane to the seats to protect it against any possible wear and tear. We applied the rub on stain with old t-shirts and used foam brushes for the application of varnish, sanding lightly between each coat with 100 grit sand paper.

chair 11

With all that work done on the seats, we really wanted to protect them, so we took our time and patiently taped around each post to provide a good enough area for drips when painting the arch and posts.


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The fun really  came when we peeled away the tape and saw how it came together. It took a while but it was worth it.

We finished the chairs by applying several coats of polyurethane to the white sections. But before that we were sure to retouch small areas here and there, which we took care of with a fine paintbrush and the brush on stain, carefully painting around the base of the posts.

The results

chair 14

This was a great way to bring some new life to pieces that meant a lot to the family. Anne’s father saw the finished pieces and couldn’t believe they were the same chairs.

The next time you are considering throwing away that old piece of furniture, take a moment to see if you can breathe some new life into it.

If you’re working on or planning to work on a similar project, have any suggestions or would just like to let us know your thoughts about this project, let us know in the comments or send us a PM. We’d love to hear from you.

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