How to cover up scratches and dents on old furniture

Nothing affects the look of a piece of furniture quite like a blemish. Whether it’s just a faint scratch, or a major dent, the eye tends to find it and focus on it, which can seriously take away from the style of any room. The guide below will help you to fix any of those problematic areas for a more beautiful finish.

First, clean. A capful of a mild cleanser, like dishwashing soap, when combined with a gallon of warm water, should create a gentle enough solution to use on your furniture. Wet a lint-free cloth with this solution, and wring it out until it’s just damp. Use this to clean the surface in question, remembering to wring out the cloth often. Before moving on to addressing the scratch or dent, let the surface air dry, or wipe it off with a clean, dry cloth.

For moderate water stains. White rings on a piece of furniture mean that water vapor has found its way underneath the finish. Fortunately, this is not a serious issue. Simply wipe the rings with a cloth that’s only slightly dampened with alcohol. Be careful not to use too much, as this can dull the finish. If you did end up using too much, you can restore some of the piece’s look by rubbing the surface with combination of extra-fine steel wool and paste wax. To go one step further and achieve a glossy finish, rub a bit of auto polish onto the surface with a rag.

If the clear coat is damaged. If you can tell that the topcoat has a scratch, but the color underneath is unscathed, a few drops of clear nail polish should do the trick. Even the most careful application of the polish will still likely leave a little bump or bubble in the surface, so use sandpaper to gently even it out. To restore the finish to its original look, use the steel wool, paste wax, and auto polish process described in the previous step.

If the color has come off. Even if the scratch or dent in question has taken some of the color off of the surface, you have no shortage of options for remedying it. For example, you can try felt-tip markers, black tea, or even an instant coffee and water paste to emulate wood tones. Practice with these on a similar scrap piece of wood before trying it on your furniture, as this will help you figure out which method works best for the color you are trying to achieve.

For dings, bumps, and deeper issues. When a piece of furniture has a serious gouge in it, you should start by sanding that gouge’s edges lightly until they are even with the surface. Then, use a wax stick that is the same color as your furniture to slightly overfill the gouge. Remove the excess wax with another flat (yet dull) edge, then apply paste wax over it.

How to Fix a Furniture Finish [This Old House]

How to Fix Scratches in Furniture [WikiHow]