How to Refinish Stickley Furniture? 7 Important Tips

Refinish Stickley Furniture

Stickley is a furniture brand renowned for class and quality. Boasting remarkable craftsmanship, Stickley furniture pieces bring a unique sense of glamor to your living space.

Therefore, a reluctance to dispose of them when they age is understandable. The good news is you can still bring your Stickley furniture back to life with some refinishing. How?

Refinishing your Stickley furniture starts with cleaning it to get off the dirt. Next is removing the old finish either by chemical stripper or sandpaper. This is followed by coating your Stickley furniture surface with a sealant, after which you would paint or stain it.

Yes, that is just a synopsis of the process. In this article, we will explore each of the aforementioned procedures in detail and best practices to restore your Stickley furniture.

But before we dive in, when do you confidently know your Stickley piece is due for refinishing?

Related Article: 7 Online Stores to Buy Stickley Furniture (For Cheap Deals!)

How to determine when your Stickley furniture needs refinishing?

The prominent indicator of your Stickley furniture needing refinishing is the conspicuous formation of watermarks and rings under the current finish.

This indicates the penetration of heat (or moisture) into your Stickley furniture’s polish.

Another way to know your Stickley is due for refinishing is rubbing your hands over the surface after cleaning. Does it feel sticky? Yes, and that piece of furniture could need refinishing.

If your Stickley furniture is getting significantly darker with changes in the clear coat, that piece needs finishing.

So how do you go about the process?

Clean your Stickley furniture

The refinishing exercise starts with cleaning your furniture. Given how long Stickley pieces last, it must have gathered substantial loads of grime and dirt across the years.

Thoroughly cleaning the Stickley goes a long way in revitalizing its luster. Thinking about what to wash it with?

Just a solution of water and soap would do. We tend to prefer ivory dish soap. It is easy on the hand, with a formula that excels at removing stubborn dirt.

If you have got a paintbrush or sponge, immerse it in this solution and scrub the surface of your Stickley piece. After washing it, rinse and dry with clean material. A soft piece of towel would do.

Time to get rid of the existing finish

It is a refinishing job, isn’t it? That means your old Stickley finish will have to go. The standard procedures for this include using chemical strippers or sanding.

Sanding is more of a hard-guy approach. Here coarse sandpapers are used to scrub hard at the existing finish. 

You may mellow the sanding intensity once you notice that the existing finish has reasonably given way. This is achievable by switching from coarse sandpaper to a fine grit variant. The latter helps in wood smoothening.

Not everyone has got a stomach for all that work. If you prefer it the easy way, you can get the finish off your Stickley furniture by using chemical strippers.

Specifically, go for a stripping product free of methylene chloride (MC). A semi-paste or liquid type works best for easy distribution.

If you have got a bristle brush, clean it thoroughly and uniformly distribute your chemical stripper across your Stickley’s surface with the brush.

Don’t hurriedly peel of the stripper. Give it some time.

When you notice the existing finish wrinkling, you can peel the stripper off with a scraper. Some wax or finish will likely be leftover from the stripping product.

You can eliminate this by applying lacquer thinner and wiping down the surface.  

We have got coating to do next

Following the eradication of the previous finish, we have to coat your Stickley’s surface. It is best to do this after your furniture has sufficiently dried.

Grain filling is common during furniture refinishing processes. This is particularly important for furniture brands like Stickley, made from open-grain woods like mahogany and oak.

Your choice of a grain filler is determined by if you want to enhance or diminish the grain. Stickley furniture pieces are best appreciated with the grain emphasized.

We have to seal the wood to ensure a more even distribution of the stain. We recommend a thick coat of sealant.

Give it some time for the wood to drink in the sealant. Depending on your workspace’s weather (or temperature), you might have to wait a couple of days.

After adequately drying the coat, you can now sand it with fine-grit sandpaper.

Next is staining or painting or staining

If you have correctly sealed your Stickley furniture, painting or staining comes next. Many Stickley furniture owners are often caught between painting and staining their pieces.

We can’t choose for you either. But here is what you should know.

If you want to retain the grain of your Stickley furniture, then stain it. If you desire another grain or color, your best option is to paint it with your desired color.

The positioning of your Stickley furniture matters as well. If you would station your piece around areas where it would see more pedestrian traffic, then you need your finish to have considerable tolerance to impact and damage. In that case, staining suits your better.

You can pick from gel stains or water-based stains if you choose to stain. When it comes to painting, you have a myriad of options. If you prefer durability to the aesthetic component, you may well go with latex paints.

Whether you go with stains or paints, ensure you religiously abide by the instructions on the product. Spare some time to study it first. Your Stickley furniture is too expensive to mess up.

Now, apply your finish

We are about to close the exercise. Once through the painting or staining procedure, you have to get a finish coat on your Stickley piece.

Which finish will you choose?

When picking a coated finish, critical considerations include how long you want your coat to last, the type of wood your Stickley furniture is produced from, and the desired appearance.

Oh, did we forget to mention your level of woodworking expertise also counts? Yes, it does.

If you are new to the world of woodworking, it may be best for you to choose coat finishes that you can easily apply with your brush.

If you go for the spray finishes, you could struggle with using the spray tools.

A few parting nuggets…

Now that we have elaborately established the procedures for a DIY Stickley furniture refinishing exercise, there are some things we like you to take along with you.

First is the illumination of your work site. Stickley furniture is a high-end piece with a lot of its appeal traced to its appearance.

Just any erroneous drip or missed spot would dramatically mess up your refinishing. This is why we advise you only refinish your Stickley furniture in a properly lit space. This way, you can accurately monitor your application.

If you don’t have enough artificial lighting inside, you can refinish outside if the weather is suitable.

It is critical to state that your work site should be extensively rid of dirt and grime. Before starting the refinishing process, thoroughly clean your workspace.

We also advise that you vacuum your workspace right after sanding your Stickley piece. This effectively eradicates dust particles hidden under the topcoats or your piece’s surface.

Lastly, be careful with the stain color. Don’t just take the manufacturer’s word for it.

Don’t hurriedly spread the stain all over your Stickley furniture just from what you saw on the sample.  It is recommended that you first apply a bit of the stain on an inconspicuous area of your piece.

If you like what you see, you can proceed to apply the stain over the apparent sections of your furniture.


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