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Water Damaged Furniture: Can You Repair Water Stained Wood Furniture?

Posted by Jody Raines

water damaged wood furniture repairWater damaged furniture, especially wood furniture, can be tricky to repair.  Although most finishes will protect the wood furniture surface, it can still become damaged by water.  Water damage is typically evident as white spots, stains, blushing or other discoloration of the wooden surface.

Furniture and trim with shellac or lacquer finish is not water or alcohol resistant.  When glasses ‘sweat’ or have condensation, they can leave a ring or white spot on the wood finish.  If polishing the surface does not remove these rings, it may be time to call in an expert to help.  If you try using denatured  alcohol, you can ruin the finish, and then it becomes a bigger project to repair.  


Another quick trick some people to try is a home remedy of using cigarette ashes. Cigarette ash is an abrasive and the idea is to “polish” away the spot.  Again, we have seen furniture that has been further damaged by this home remedy, so be skeptical when you consider trying something like this on a conference room table or dining room table, where the consequences of further damage may result in greater issues to repair.  

Blushing is the term when a white haze is evident over a large portion or even the entire piece of furniture.  Blushing is a discoloration that is caused by moisture and can also present as crazing or alligatoring.   Bushing is a common problem with old shellac or lacquer finishes and the wood may need to be refinished. Again, if you have a fine piece of furniture,  you should consult an expert to evaluate the damage.  But don’t be discouraged, often these problems can be corrected.

When water has penetrated into the wood finish and actually entered the wood, you may notice black spots.  With water damage like this, the entire piece of furniture may need to be stripped.  Once the wood finish is removed, the surface can be bleached and then stained and finished to it’s original beauty.  

A wood furniture finish repair may involve completely removing the original finish to repair any deep scratches, wood gouges, burns,  black spots, blushing  and will involve re-staining the wood.  While it may seem that the damage is only in one spot, keep in mind that the spot must now blend with the rest of the wood of the furniture.  In some cases, it’s difficult to preserve the finish which hasn’t been damaged in order to restore the area that has been damaged.  A professional will evaluate your situation and determine the best method of repair.   In most cases, the furniture will look better than it did when it was new.


When refinishing your furniture, it’s also a good opportunity to replace the upholstery with updated fabric.  New fabrics are versatile and more stain resistant and there are many great options to update the look of your piece.

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