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How to Refinish a Vintage Midcentury Modern Chair (page 3 of 3)

Iconic midcentury furniture is known for its high-quality construction, use of beautiful woods and great modern design. Learn what to look for when buying a vintage piece and how to properly refurbish it.

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Apply and Wipe Off Teak Oil

To get the rich golden-orange color of the teak, apply a coat of teak oil. It will penetrate into the grain of the wood and seal it, and at the same time bring out the wood's natural color. Start by pouring a small amount from the can into a container that you can dip a brush into. Use a chip brush to spread the teak oil all over the chair pieces. Coat it thoroughly and let the oil stand for about 5 to 7 minutes (in warmer climates, maybe 3 or 4 minutes). Then wipe down all the pieces with a clean rag.

Very Important: Be sure to remove all the excess teak oil or it will gum up and take days to dry. Once it is thoroughly wiped down, let all of the pieces sit for at least 12 hours.

Top Coat Options

At this point, there are two options. You can stop and just have a thin hard coat of the teak oil bring out the wood's natural beauty. You will have to re-apply another coat of teak oil every couple of years, or when you begin to see wear. If you keep up with it, you will not need to strip and refinish. This option will give you a much flatter finish look and is not for high-traffic usage.

The second option is to spray lacquer on the piece to add a protective clear coating in a satin sheen. Although it is still permeable to liquids, you should get 15 years out of a finish like this. Spray on two to three coats of lacquer (we used Deft brand). Hold the can 8 to 10 inches from the surface and follow the contours of the chair. Don't stop in one spot; keep your hand moving in a fluid motion to get even coverage. Sand lightly between each coat with 320-grit sandpaper, just enough to knock down roughness in the finish, but do not sand through the layer of teak oil. You can use a brush-on lacquer, but if your piece of furniture has a lot of curves or edges, it might be hard to stop the drips and runs.


Let each piece dry for 24 hours before you put them all back together. Assemble the pieces in the reverse order of how you took them apart. Make sure everything is tight but not over tightened.

Upholster the Cushions

Unless you've got a lot of sewing skills, you're probably better off finding a local upholstery shop to make the two simple cushions and covers. You should need 2 1/2 yards of fabric if using a solid pattern and 3 1/2 to 4 yards if using a repeating pattern. Make sure they add a decorative welt cord for the edges of the cushion cover to give it a professional look.

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