Tips for Eco-Friendly Furniture Refinishing

This is a guest post by Eric Munoz

Eric Munoz owns a wood furniture design company in Houston that can custom build pieces from scratch or duplicate existing pieces. He has over 10 years of experience working with his hands. Visit his site at http://www.cambiumworks.com.

Refinishing can be great way to give old pieces of furniture a new life and maybe save yourself a couple of bucks in the process. However, in order to make this a safe, enjoyable, and eco-friendly process, there are certain things of which you should be aware. Here are four areas of the eco-friendly furniture refinishing process that you should consider before getting into a project.

Beware of Toxins and Pests

Refinishing can be a lengthy process, and you might not be sure of exactly what you are stripping or sanding off of some pieces of furniture. There could be dangerous toxins in the dust that comes off while sanding wood furniture or in the fumes that accompany stripping paint or varnish off a piece. It can therefore be important to wear items such as gloves, a face mask, and protective eyewear.

It is also important to note that while picking up old furniture from unknown sources such as a garage sale, someone’s trash, or wherever, might be an eco-friendly way to reuse these items, there may be unexpected and dangerous surprises involved. With the sudden re-emergence of bed-bugs, you’ll need to be on the lookout for these tiny pests, and keep an eye open for hornets’ nests, other bugs, rodent droppings, and even the rodents themselves. While you might have the best of intentions at heart with your eco-friendly purposes, at times there can be some unintended and unexpected consequences — so be prepared!

A Proper Location

Finding the proper location to work on refinishing your furniture can be important to a safe and eco-friendly process. A well-vented place like a garage, outbuilding or other typically uninhabited space can make for a better spot to work than inside the home. This way, you can give your furniture time to sit and ensure it is devoid of pests, and have a safe place to remove dirt, debris and possibly dangerous and eco-unfriendly material.

Excess Materials

When removing what might be hazardous or toxic material from furniture, whether it is dust, old paint, stain or similar material, using a tarp or clean, hard surface on which to collect this material can keep it from escaping out into the environment. A vacuum may also be handy to sweep up dust.

To dispose of such material, it’s important to remember not to just throw it in the garbage where it will end up in a landfill. Instead, check the phone book or Internet for a local drop off facility for hazardous material. And remember, when working with furniture that might be padded such as chairs or sofas, there may be metal springs that could be recycled, fabric that could be reused or turned into rags, and foam or other padding that might be reused either as packing material or in the refinishing of the furniture itself.

Go Natural

When you have your piece of furniture prepped and ready to be refinished, look for natural finishes that could work for your purposes. Consider leaving the wood in its natural state. Maybe an all natural wood wax or oil would work, or an organic, cotton cover for a cushioned chair or sofa.

If you decide that a finish of some type is needed such as a lacquer, stain, or paint, look for products that are non-toxic and eco-friendly in nature. A quick search of the Internet should provide you with numerous options in this area as well as where such items might be found.

Eric Munoz owns a wood furniture design company in Houston that can custom build pieces from scratch or duplicate existing pieces. He has over 10 years of experience working with his hands. Visit his site at http://www.cambiumworks.com.

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