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"Information about finishes is riddled with myths and, half-truths. This situation creates countless problems because it diverts from the information you need to understand  finishing. Some  of  the myths imply that the old finishes, and old ways of applying finishes, are somehow better then what we  have  and  what we do today. Other  myths suggest  that  finishes  are  sort  of  mystery, consisting of secret formulations  that are  held  in confidence by those who, somehow, already know them."
  Bob Flexner, Author, Understanding Wood Finishes
As I continue spending time with clients and customers, I find Bob to be precise in the above quote. We will remove the mystery. This FAQ section intends to give some additional understanding of the process. If you have other questions,  contact Gerry Thurston
Glossary of antique furniture terms.
Ten most frequently ask Questions.
1)Q How do I know what finish to use on a good piece of furniture or valuable antiques?
A Appearance, Protection, Durability, and Reversibility are the most important aspects. The number one cause of antique value degradation is incorrect restoration. Experience being the best teacher, it's recommended that you proceed with caution and consult with a professional furniture finisher/refinisher.
2) Q Why are there so many different types of finishes for furniture?
A Basically, five types of finishes are used in refinishing furniture. Shellac, Lacquer, Varnish Water Base and Conversion. Click on each for further explanations.
3) Q When refinishing a piece of furniture, do I always need to remove the finish ?
A No, As a matter of fact, when possible, it is better to restore and preserve the original finish. Especially with antiques. Rejuvenating and maintaining "patina" is essential for antiques to appreciate in value.
4)Q When is it necessary to completely strip and refinish a piece ?
A Complete stripping, toning and new finish can be performed at any stage in the life of a piece. Choosing to do this is your option. Refinishing becomes necessary when wood is exposed directly to the atmosphere. Adding finish to the piece will preserve it but if the appearance is not correct then consider complete refinishing.
5)Q What is the difference in cost for complete refinish vs. rejuvenation of the existing finish?
A In general, the cost is about one half. Keep in mind, all work is based on time and the required material.
6)Q Can I have a piece stripped and then refinish it myself ?
A Yes, with the new finishes available, in many cases we recommend that you let us strip and condition the piece ready for you to finish.
7) Q Should I try to strip a piece myself ?
A You can, but let me qualify this statement. Not only is this step of refinishing the least interesting, it is messy as well as a health hazard. It is not cost effective unless you are doing many items at the same time. Most refinishers hand strip but now use a special table and recycle the stripping material. This method is fast, efficient and safe. We pass the savings along to you.
8) Q Why is the price estimate for refinishing sometimes more than what it costs to replace it?
A It is important to understand that the restoration process is far from just repair and refinishing of old furniture. Look closely at the item and determine if you should invest in the restoring process. Our mission is quite simple. With research, we help clients determine the importance of preserving an heirloom /antique. In addition to the beautification of your surroundings, it is important to preserve the legacy that you pass along to your heirs and future generations.
9) Q Does the finish you use permit the wood to breathe?
A Probably the biggest misconception regarding just about all finishes is that wood somehow needs to breathe. Nothing could be further from the truth. If any wood is permitted to "breathe" this adds to deterioration over time. We take extra precautions to make sure that wood is sealed completely. Kiln dry wood, used in all furniture, contains a small amount of moisture. If that moisture continues to dry out you, will start to see cracks and splits. Wood must be totally sealed. Properly finished and maintained furniture will not have this problem.