What is the refinishing procedure when your vintage furniture reeks?…. and that was my obstacle on this project! Man, this is not talked about enough and needs to be! This is the second piece of furniture in the past few years that I have refinished and have found myself gagging every time I try to sand it. We all want those heirloom pieces that are stuck in your grandma’s basement that is just waiting for a makeover. Of course, because they are solid wood! The problem is, those basements can be wet, musty, dank and when combined with wonderful blends of pet odors, the mix can result in an OH SO infamous smell. HAHA. Don’t forget, that generation smoked heavily inside their homes which can also stick to furniture. I understand smoke smell may not bother everyone, however WILD animal may! I know I am NOT the only one who has experienced this!!! Half of you sauntered onto my website just because you SECRETLY googled how to get the putrid stink out of your furniture. HAHA. Its’s ugly!!!!! When you see a thousand furniture makeovers online with pretty tutorials, the computer hides the NASTY!
This little number that I found on the side of the road in the pouring rain is not an antique heirloom. However, it was solid wood with some nice wood work. I saw it and jumped. The house had been in a foreclosed state. The air-conditioning probably hadn’t been on in a couple of years resulting in the smell that had built up. Air conditioning is almost necessary here because it gets extremely humid and is necessary to dry everything out when the humidity gets high. Our air conditioning broke last year and over the course of a week, I started smelling some of the smoke smell coming from our antique rugs and antique furniture handed down from the grandparents. That was one week! And Yes- the rugs have been professionally cleaned. Our basement also starts to smell musty if our dehumidifier stops running which I notice immediately after coming home from vacation. This house where I got this piece of furniture sat empty for a while. Without any movement in the house, nor air conditioning, nor a running dehumidifier, any odor that may have been once subtle must have become MAGNIFIED by the time I came along:)
They were taking out the furniture and breaking it apart by the road and dumping it in a dumpster. Little innocent me couldn’t help myself being slightly distracted while driving in the rain …..hit the brakes and asked politely…”Do you mind if I take a look before you break it all up.” The workers said “Sure take anything!” It was mostly junky furniture, but I found this one…..and knew I could make it great again!!…….uh yeah.. Little did I know I would have to hose myself down 3 times a day just to be able to re-do this thing! Regardless, I saved it from the junkyard. YEAH…. Now you are wondering why:)
The interesting thing is I actually had no idea this piece of furniture smelled so bad when I got it. It was raining heavily which masked some odors:) I always think…ah, even if it’s a little musty, I’ve done it before, it’s nothing that I can’t handle! Though, it really wasn’t until the sanding process began that the pet odors started coming through. My friend who owns multiple animals came over and agreed the house most likely had a couple of cats, dogs….. ferrets…who knows? I thought I was extra sensitive to it but later after I had been sanding, Ed turned on his shop vac ………..I could hear him yelling. ‘OH God….WHAT IS THAT?’ haha. I laughed a little too hard! Now, I am really hoping I didn’t ruin his shop-vac!
My sister; right now; teeth clenched ……….”UMMM….YEAHaaaa…..wow….. And you continued…. hmm.”
Here are my extra steps to get this piece of furniture CLEANED, SANDED, SANITIZED, DEODORIZED and SEALED up! :
- I stopped the sanding process completely because I couldn’t take it! I sprayed every nook and crannie with ODOBAN and then wiped it down to clean it. I sprayed an extra 2 or 3 times on the furniture and let it air-dry in the sun. You want the spray to seep into the wood.
Ed got this product at ACE hardware. You can probably find it online. The lady at the hardware store told him that they use this deodorizer and disinfectant at the veterinary offices because the animal smell gets potent. The veterinarian that uses it was very pleased with the product. So……here we are, a product that can also be used to deodorize those stinky antiques! This product HELPED and made continuing the sanding process bearable.
- I bought a VAPOR MASK!!! This is a must when dealing with disgusting odors!! After the project, I planned to throw out the exchangeable filters!
- I resumed SANDING OUTSIDE in my backyard. I started with 120 grit sandpaper. I sanded inside every drawer cavity, underneath the dresser, the back of the dresser and of course all of the nice details were all sanded down. I wanted all the stinky layers of wood GONE!!
- I sanded out the inside of the drawers with my orbital sander. I sanded underneath the drawers, all four walls of the inside and outside of the drawers. I sanded any wood I could see:)
- I cleaned the drawers after sanding and used a SPRAY SHELLAC all over the drawers including the inside, walls, and underneath. On the back of the can it says Shellac will kill odors seeping from wood ! YAY! I just didn’t shellac the drawer fronts because I knew I had more work there.
- I put 4 coats of KILZ MAX primer on the entire dresser except for the shellac’ed drawers. KILZ MAX also claims to kill odors! I could have applied KILZ all over the drawers as well but I didn’t want the drawers sticking or the paint rubbing off or sticking as the drawers get moved back and forth. I applied the primer over the entire dresser(including the back and underneath) using our EARLEX spray gun. Between each coat, I sanded with a 220 grit sandpaper. My sanding tools and forms were used each time just like in the above sanding pics….that being 4 times!!
- I even sprayed KILZ MAX in the inside of the drawer cavities!!!! That was fun;) Check out how I messed up here!!!
After disinfecting, shellac-ing, & KILZ-ing the pet odors dissipated. The dresser has a paint smell now. I can handle that any day compared to what I went through to just get this dresser up to the point where it could be painted.
Would I do this again? Every day I worked on this I asked myself why I was going to this level to save this hunk of junk! It wasn’t an antique, nor did it have excellent craftsmanship. It started to become more work than expected and more for me than a cute vintage dresser at that point. It became a challenge where I wanted to see if I could completely mask the ridiculous odors; and if it didn’t work…..hey, I could dump it in the end! The important point is that it can be done even as bad off as this dresser was! Yes, a lot of extra work went into this but when one has inherited a beautiful heirloom antique piece that stinks like the dickens, there is still hope:) That is what I wanted to see if I could share with you in the end. If this were to happen again…..I would make sure I really LOVED the piece of furniture and that it was WORTH saving!! I spent some serious time on this! On that note, finally with the primer on, it’s ready to be painted with some nice paint!
NOW that this dresser has been refreshed……I will NOT be saying …..” Yeah, sorry for the stink… it ain’t the trash, it’s the treasure!” 🙂
STILL WORKING ON IT; The drawer fronts have some additional work…. Missing, peeling and cracked veneer! Check out my next post on how we will fix that problem! Where is Mike Rowe on this one? ha!!! Mike Rowe….Row, Ro Ro….. Hello O. O. O. ?!!!! Dresser to be continued…
UPDATE: Furniture Makeover is DONE:
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