How to prepare a piece of old furniture for upcycling

I’d like to think that I’m not bad at a bit of upcycling. By that, I mean I have slapped a bit of chalk paint on an old dresser or two and been satisfied with the fact that it’s ‘supposed to look rustic’.

I once took a bedside table ready for the tip and injected a whole new lease of life into it by painting it pastel pink, and switching the old wooden knobs for ceramic ones with cute animals on. It was amazing – I say was, because over the years heavy handling by the kids has left the paint starting to peel away in places, and I realise now if I ever want a little more longevity in my upcycling projects, I need to put in the ground work. 

Not that I have any idea how to, mind you.

So, here is some excellent advice from an expert – advice I’ll be referring to for my next upcycling project on one of the many pieces of furniture in our garage, just waiting for a new look, and a child free morning or two.


Whether you want to spruce up an old piece of furniture that your Grandma left you, or are on a spree to rejuvenate and customize vintage furniture that you discovered on your last trip to the flea market; upcycling can breathe into just about anything. This new trend of turning the redundant and unloved pieces of wood into a one-of-a-kind statement décor accessory is having a moment nowadays.

If you are willing to take up a DIY project and revamp your existing home décor, we have some great tips. In this post, we will share some useful tips from experts on how to prepare your old furniture for upcycling. So, before you start with the furniture makeover session, be sure to read this article very carefully.

Get rid of any old flaky paint

Getting rid of the old damaged and chipping paint is one step that you just cannot avoid. This will help remove any protective varnish or lacquer from the surface of the wood, making it easier for the paint to stay on. This can be easily managed using sandpaper for small upcycling projects and with the help of sandblasting in case of large projects.

Sandblasting in Sydney is an eco-friendly and safe method of furniture stripping. A combination of glass and water is used for the blast at a controlled intensity to remove the paint from the furniture or timber.

After removing the old paint completely, wipe off the furniture gently using a clean tack cloth to remove any residue left after furniture stripping.

Inspect the furniture thoroughly

When upcycling the furniture, one thing you must remember is that not all pieces of wood can be transformed into something chic and stylish. You need to make sure that the furniture you choose to upcycle is worth your valuable time and efforts. Therefore, you must look for a well-made piece that is structurally solid and at the same time has a lot of potential for becoming something worth flaunting.

Check for woodworm

Old pieces of furniture are sometimes infested by woodworms, which is a wood-boring larva that destroys the wood and renders it useless. You must check if the furniture you are planning to upcycle is free from woodworms and is treated to keep them at bay. This will ensure high durability to your furniture.

Remove the hardware

If the furniture you are upcycling is outfitted with any hardware, you must remove those before you start prepping it for a paint job. It will ensure that the hardware doesn’t get painted along with the rest of the piece. This way the furniture gets evenly painted and gets a great finishing. You will also have the option of accentuating your masterpiece further by painting the hardware in a different color before reattaching it back.

Patch any chipped, holed, or pitted surfaces

Old pieces of furniture might not be perfect. If the piece that you are planning to upcycle has holes, gouges, dents or dings then you would want to smooth those out first. Fill any chipped or damaged surface with wood fillers and then sand smooth the surface. If you are planning to replace any old hardware, it is recommended that you fill in the old holes with wood filler before attaching the new hardware. Make sure that you only cover the damaged part with wood fillers to create a smooth and even surface. You can use a putty knife to scrape off any excess filler and even out any rough spots.

Prime and paint

Done with prepping? Time for the final step! Start at the top and apply the primer moving downwards. This will give an even and smooth finishing to your furniture and make the paint last longer. Allow the primer to dry completely. You can apply a second layer of primer after going over the primed surface with fine-grit sandpaper, if necessary.
Once done with the primer, splash the piece with a pretty paint and get ready to garner loads of compliments.

Sam Morgan is the owner of Dustless Blasting Australia. He has been blasting of paint, rust, and grease of pretty much any surface for almost 5 years now. If you want to restore old painted weathered homes back to a natural timber look or you have a muscle car that needs to be blasted back to bare metal, Sam is your guy.

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