It’s easier than you think to fix damaged furniture! Today we’re sharing how to fix chipped wood furniture, specifically, how to repair veneer before painting. But here’s a little secret, this trick works for SO MANY furniture repairs.
Discover more tutorials for repairing old furniture!
Antique furniture often had imperfections in its wood. It was covered with a thin layer expensive and beautiful wood. This thin layer of wood can be called veneer.
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The veneer was glued onto the less pretty wood to make the less pretty wood look like it was made of expensive wood.
The practice is still used today for manufactured furniture. However, today’s veneer is usually made from low-quality wood.
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Side Note: Wood veneer is different than laminate.
Laminate and wood veneer can be distinguished by their sheen, texture, or how they look. Laminate is very slick, shiny and has no natural wood grain (because it’s basically plastic that has been made to look like wood!) Wood veneer has texture, and it isn’t as slick or shiny as laminate is.
(Click here to see what you must do before you paint laminate furniture.)
Over time the wood veneer can get water damage, or the glue holding the veneer to the wood can become brittle, creating the veneer.
When the veneer is loose, it starts to lift away from the wood, making it easy for the veneer to chip and break.
Here is a dresser that started to chip at the bottom. The Veneer was removed and could be easily separated from the veneer.
I wanted to paint the dresser, but I didn’t want to leave the damage visible. This is a very common problem when painting or refinishing antique furniture.
It’s really easy to fix!
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- Optional: Powder Sander / Disc Sandpaper
- Optional: Utility Knife
- Optional: Wood Filler
How to Fix Chipped Wood Furniture
- Glue down or remove all of the loose veneer.
- Mix the Bondo together and quickly spread it on top of the missing veneer.
- Allow the Bondo to dry for at most 30 minutes.
- Smoothen the Bondo.
- Apply a second coat or fill in any imperfections with wood filler.
- Prepare for painting or refinishing.
What is Bondo?
Bondo is well known in the auto repair industry (but it’s become very popular to use on wood!) It’s a two-part product that consists of the base and the hardener. It dries in under an hour once it’s mixed.
Basically it’s perfect for furniture and home repairs. Bondo has actually come out with a wood filler version and a multi-purpose version because of how popular it has become! (Though I still like to stick with the good ole pink auto version of Bondo.)
How to use Bondo for Wood Repair
How to Mix Bondo
Simply mix a golf ball size of the base with about an inch long amount of hardener.
Mix it only in small quantities or as much as necessary. About 5 minutes after it’s mixed, it becomes too hard to work with. The Bondo will dry in about 30 minutes.
How Long Does it Take for Bondo to Dry?
It depends on the weather and how much hardener you mixed into the base, but it should be hardening enough that you can’t spread it after 5 minutes.
The It should take between 20 and 30 minutes to cure according to the can.
After the product has dried, you can sand it.
How to Sand Bondo
If you can, sand the Bondo down with a power sander and 220 grit sandpaper. The A flat surface, such as the sideboard of this dresser, is the best place to use a power sander.
This is the orbital sander and my favorite, the best, most long-lasting sandpaper that I use.
If you are stuck sanding Bondo by hand, start with more coarse grit sandpaper like 100 grit or 120 grit to remove the most excess quickly. Then work your way up to 220 grit sandpaper to get a really nice smooth repair.
For sanding by hand, this is my absolute favorite sandpaper to use. I find that other sandpaper tears and loses it’s grit way too fast.
How to Sand Bondo Faster
If you’re repairing wood with details that are hard to get into, or areas where a power sander can’t get, I have a little trick that saves so much time!
About 5 minutes after you have put the Bondo onto wood, use a utility knife to shave off the excess and shape the Bondo.
Once the Bondo is dry and hard (about 30 minutes later) you can sand the rest of the Bondo down so it’s smooth and seamless.
Best Sandpaper for Bondo
This sandpaper isn’t just for Bondo. These are my favorite sandpaper sheets to use, no matter the project. These sheets are perfect for hand sanding or if your sander uses sheets of sandpaper.
The grit lasts much longer than other sandpaper, and it doesn’t tear easily like others do.
For my power sander, these are the sanding discs that I recommend. This brand is top-notch!
Do I need to Apply a Second Coat of Bondo?
If there aren’t any imperfections, then you are just fine to move onto the next step.
But a lot of times the Bondo has air bubbles or small areas that need to be filled in to make the damage completely disappear.
You can either spread another thin coat of Bondo on, or you can put wood filler in those imperfections.
Simply sand the Bondo or woodfiller down again once it is dry.
How to paint Bondo?
Bondo can be painted right over. But to combat bleedthrough or uneven coverage of paint, it’s best to prime the furniture in some way before painting.
I personally love to use clear shellac in the spray can to combat bleed through, and seal the Bondo. I love to use shellac because it’s clear and makes it easy to lightly distress the paint for a farmhouse look.
If you don’t want a farmhouse look, a white primer like BIN Shellac is perfect to get your furniture and Bondo repair ready for paint.
Note: If you are painting your furniture with powdered milk paint, I like to paint a coat of water-based poly over the Bondo. Shellac can cause powdered milkpaint to crackle and expose the pink Bondo beneath, so water-based Poly is the best option.
Is Bondo able to be stained?
Sadly, Bondo doesn’t take stain like wood does. Plus if you use the autobody kind (the pink stuff), it’s going to be even harder to make the Bondo look like wood.
But, Bondo has a wood filler version of Bondo that would be easier to stain. It still won’t take stain like wood does (no wood filler will stain like wood does though!).
Your best bet to stain Bondo is to use the Wood Filler Version and then stain it by painting on layers of Gel Stain like this video shows.
Click here to learn How to Stain Bondo Wood Filler and here to learn how to stain furniture darker with gel stain!
This youtube video from Family Handyman uses another product that I really love called Kwikwood. It’s another great option to repair the chips in wood veneer.
Kwikwood, a wood filler thicker and clay-like, can be easily shaped. Kwikwood also drys quickly (about one hour) and is hardy.
It’s not as easy to fill in a large area of missing veneer with Kwikwood though, so I like to stick to Bondo for repairs like this.
Optional – Remove the Veneer
If your veneer is loose or pretty damaged, you might want to remove all of it instead of filling in the modding veneer. Here is our video and tutorial on the insanely easy way to remove veneer.
You’ve got this!!
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