6 Easy Steps On How To Refinish A Chair Without Stripping

If you want to know alternatives to refinishing, like how to refinish a chair without stripping, then this article about refinishing is for you. An alternative to chemical stripping is using petroleum jelly, which will be elaborated on below.

Stripping is mainly done with methylene chloride stripper, and, aside from smelling bad, it can burn your skin. Aside from alternatives to stripping, we have also included ways to darken your furniture without stripping and deciding whether you should sand or strip your furniture.

Lastly, we have included ways on how to refinish your furniture. Enjoy reading!


Steps In Refinishing A Chair Without Stripping

The materials you will need for this refinishing project are soap, water, mineral spirits, sponge, cloth, petroleum jelly, epoxy, utility knife, and wipe-on poly.


Step #1. Clean your furniture

Before refinishing your furniture, you should clean it first with soap and water. Washing your furniture will not damage it. It can actually help you identify where you have to start.


Step #2. Coat the furniture

After cleaning the furniture and leaving it to dry, you have to add a coat of mineral spirits. Coating your chair with mineral spirits would make it easier for you to assess the damage of your piece.


Step #3. Use petroleum jelly

Petroleum jelly is not just good for cuts and burns on your body, and it can also help with your furniture. If you see a water ring on your chair, you can apply petroleum jelly to it and leave it overnight. It might solve your problem, but if it does not, you can use other products instead.


Step #4. Epoxy

If your chair has any chips or is missing veneer, you can apply epoxy. Apply epoxy on the damaged areas, and once it has hardened, you can sand and stain your chair to blend with the rest of your furniture.


Step #5. Surface issues

Take a utility knife and score the dents across, then add a drop of water. The wood will absorb the water and relieve that dent.


Step #6. Wipe-On Poly

After covering all the blemishes of the chair, you can now add a coat of Wipe-On Poly to finish your project.


How to darken furniture without stripping it

In this part of the article, we’ll teach you how to darken your furniture without chemically stripping it.

The materials you need are 250 to 300 light grit sandpaper, a mix of vinegar and water as a mild cleanser, chip brush, and gel stain.


Step #1. Sand the chair

First, sand the surface of your chair that you would like to darken. Use 250 to 300 light grit sandpaper when you are removing the shiny surface and dirt build-up.

If you see white marks on your chair, that is a build-up. Remove any white marks by sanding the furniture properly.


Step #2. Clean your furniture

Clean your chair using a 50-50 mix of water and vinegar, and this will serve as your mild cleanser.


Step #3. Gel stain

Get your chip brush to apply the gel stain in small areas so it would not dry immediately. If you are not satisfied with your chair’s color, you can apply a second coat after the first one has dried.


Step #4. Seal 

Like refinishing the chair, you can seal your furniture with Wipe-On Poly. You can use the spray sealer to ensure that the gel stain won’t be wiped off the chair.


Is it better to sand or strip furniture?

Stripping has a foul smell, and the chemicals in it can give you burns. It is difficult to remove once applied, but applying it is not a problem at all.

On the other hand, sanding won’t give you any burns, and it does not have a foul smell. However, it takes too long to finish, and it leaves the room dusty.

To summarize, both have their advantages and disadvantages. Stripper is perfect for broad surfaces, while sandpaper is good for intricate details.


Ways to refinish furniture

More than stripping, sanding, and staining your chair to finish it, you can also do these things before you decide to throw your chairs out:

  • Wallpaper – This is a unique way to refinish your furniture. You can opt to highlight parts of your chair with wallpaper instead of using another color of paint.
  • Decoupage – Applying decoupage onto your chair is similar to using wallpaper. However, this is more intricate as it uses cut-outs.
  • Chalk paint – Another way of refinishing your chair is by using chalk paint, and it is easier to apply than paint. You can make your chalk paint, too! Liz Marie Galvan made a chalk paint blog, and her chalk paint is thick and can be applied to the wood directly.
  • Distressed furniture – The distressed style does not only work on clothes, but it also works on furniture now. You can easily pull this off with spray paint and a sander.



If you reach the end, then you have learned beyond how to refinish a chair without stripping. Now, you also know how to darken furniture without stripping and some unique ways to refinish your furniture.

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