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Refurbish thrift store finds

Putting your own flair into an old piece of furniture or thrift store find is a creative and budget-friendly way to transform unused items into personal treasures.

Refinishing old tables, chairs and other wooden items can instill new life, making these pieces functional and contemporary again. Whether you’re repurposing a piece entirely or simply updating the look, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Color: Do you have a specific room in mind to use your selected piece? If you have a place already chosen, consider a colored stain to match the room’s décor. If not, a versatile wood tone may be a better choice.

Product: Is this your first project? If so, water-based products can be a simpler, do-it-yourself alternative to oil-based stains and finishes. Will your “new” furniture be in frequent or casual use?

To protect from wear and tear on daily-use items, be sure to finish your project with an appropriate sealant or protective coat. Interior stain and sealers offer a protective element built into the product, such as Cabot Premium Wood Finish, which provides rich color and tough, durable results.

Preparation: Although you may be eager to put your new treasure to use, taking time to properly strip and prepare your wood for its new finish will ensure the best results.

This DIY project, created by Beth Hunter, author of the blog “Home Stories A to Z,” shows you how to take a tired, outdated coffee table from attic to amazing in three simple steps.


•Chemical stripper

•Hand-held paint scraper

•Tack cloths or lint-free rags

•Rubber gloves

•Safety glasses

•Orbital sander with 60-, 120- and 220-grit discs

•Interior wood stain and sealer product, such as Cabot Premium Wood Finish (in the ready-to-use or custom-tinted to your color of choice)

•Painters tape


•300-grit sandpaper

Use a chemical stripper to remove heavy layers of paint, stain or varnish. Follow the label’s directions, allowing the stripper to sit for the designated amount of time, then gently scrape and wipe away the residue. (Tack cloth or lint-free rag is important to ensure you don’t leave particles behind).

Tip: Wear gloves approved for chemical handling and eye protection, and be sure to set up your project in a well-ventilated area. A respirator may be necessary to ensure you don’t inhale powerful fumes.

After your piece has been stripped, wiped clean with a damp rag and allowed to dry thoroughly, you are ready to sand. Although sandpaper sheets will do for some small projects, you’ll get the best results using a quality orbital sander. There are many options in the $50 to $100 range, well worth the investment if you plan to do more projects.

Using the sander, start with a coarse, low-grit (60) sandpaper and work up to the high-grit (220), fine paper. The low grit takes off any remaining finish quickly and roughens the wood, while the finer grits smooth the wood and creates a pristine surface. After sanding, use a tack cloth to wipe down your piece and remove the dust.

Now you are ready to add color. For this project, a series of colors in the new Cabot Premium Wood Finish line were used, including Mussel Shell, Stormy Teal, Riverbed and Coffeehouse.

The products in this line are water-based stain and sealers, so they dry quickly and are good choices for a DIYer because they stain and protect at once while providing high-quality, beautiful results.

These finishes also offer smooth application without the need for a primer or conditioner and a simple soap and water cleanup.

If you will be using multiple colors, as with this project, tape off areas to make crisp lines. Use a brush to apply the product, and allow it to dry as described on the package directions. Use ultra-fine grit (300) sandpaper to lightly sand the first coat. Finish with a second coat.

Tips: For a richer color, use the finest sandpaper possible to remove as little stain as possible between coats. Apply more layers for a darker look, or only one for a distressed look.

For additional DIY project ideas for your home, including tips and how-to videos, go to

– Family Features