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Flipping furniture provides an excellent way to bring in a bit of extra income. You can give that scuffed up $10 table in your local thrift store a face lift, and it can provide you with a substantial return on your investment. When flipping furniture, the real visual difference appears when you apply the stain; however, there are several important steps included in this process. Failure to follow them can result in an underwhelming end result. We put together a few tips for refinishing wood to help you do it right.

1. Clean the Piece

It may seem obvious to say you wouldn’t want to work on a piece of furniture that isn’t clean, but many don’t take this step beyond a simple wipe down. It’s important, however, to ensure the piece receives a thorough cleaning. You’ll also want to make sure you use non-abrasive cleaning agents.

2. Remove the Old Finish

You aren’t likely to get good results if you apply your new finish right on top of the old one. Begin this step by sanding down the piece to get some of the initial residue off. Once you complete this step, apply the appropriate remover to the piece, and remove the finish using a scraper with a dull edge.

3. Fill Any Divots in the Wood

To truly make the piece look as good as the day it was made, you’ll want to fill in any scrapes or holes in the wood. Apply a wood filler into these holes, and sand off any of the excess once it dries.

4. Re-Sand the Wood

Once old finish is removed and any holes have been filled, you’ll want to sand the piece again. This is to create the smoothest possible surface. We recommend using sandpaper with 150-200 grit for this step.

5. Swatch Your Finish

Don’t just grab any can of finish off the store’s shelf. There are numerous finishes on the market, and you want to ensure you select the right one. The last thing you want is to apply an entire coat only to realize that you don’t like the color. This will cause you to start again from the beginning, which will cost both time and money. The best way to avoid this is to create small swatches of the finish ahead of time.

6. Apply a Clear Coat

If you used a stain or a pigmented finish, you may want to complete your project with an additional clear coat. This will add some extra shine and make it look truly complete.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.