How to Repair & Replace Missing Veneer, Formica, or Wood on Furniture

How to Repair & Replace Missing Veneer, Formica, or Wood on FurnitureWhile refinishing furniture with paint, glaze, and distressing, it’s not uncommon to come across a great piece that missing some it’s original veneer, formica (an old school laminate surface) or wood.

Either through wear or tear, or maybe even damage inflicted by an animal, such areas are unsightly. Yet, they CAN be can be repaired for refinishing with paint, glaze, and distressing!

I’ve made these repairs time and again using a product I highly recommend called FIX it STICK. It’s an all purpose epoxy putty available at Lowe’s in the plumbing department.

Yes, you read that right! Plumbing! And I’ll tell you at the end of this article where you can find it.

FIX it STICK was recommended to me a few years ago my a local furniture refinisher I highly respect. I love the results I get from it when repairing and replacing missing surfaces.

Let me explain how I use it. The images I’ve included here will illustrate different ways I put it to use to make repairs prior to refinishing with paint, glaze and distressing. (This product isn’t recommended for stain finishes.)

FIX it STICK is an epoxy putty that comes in a plastic tube. Sealed in a thin layer of plastic, it can be sliced through and individual portions removed for repair use.

 

The epoxy roll has two layers: a lighter outside layer and a darker inside layer. These must be completely mixed together by hand (into one unified shade of grey) to catalyze the final, hardened product.

The mixed putty will turn warm, and you have a few minutes before it hardens when it is malleable and can be fit into the area you want to repair. 

Before these step, I’ve done whatever necessary to clean and prepare the area for the putty. Typically, I will apply a thin layer of wood glue to the surface where the putty will be placed. The glue will help the hardening putty adhere tight to the surface.

How to Repair & Replace Missing Veneer, Formica, or Wood on Furniture

I apply the putty so it’s raised a bit above the furniture surface. Once dry (I typically let it set 24 hours), I will then sand it down level to the surface around it. 

There are occasions when I’ve used the putty to perform a major repair, say where I dog chewed out part of the wood. In that case, and as illustrated here, I’ll place wood screws into the wood to serve as a sort of backbone to hold the hardened putty in place. I’ll also use this technique on corner areas where extra reinforcement may be needed.

How to Repair & Replace Missing Veneer, Formica, or Wood on Furniture

I also use this putty for filling old holes that have been drilled in drawers for pulls. I may be need different holes drilled, and the putty fills the old holes nicely and sands down very smooth.

One of the things I love most about FIX it STICK is that unlike other wood putty products I’ve used, it doesn’t expand when painted. Plus, it’s about as hard as wood, and holds up really well.

For more examples and photos of how I’ve repaired furniture prior to refinishing with paint, glaze and distressing (including steps described above), check out this FIX it STICK Furniture Repairs album I’ve created. Instead of cramming them into this post, I put this album together with captions and explanations. Here in the month of October, I’ll digging out all the photos I can find, and adding them to this album, so check back again for even more examples of how repairs can be made.

FIX it STICK may be found at Lowe’s in the plumbing department. It’s typically found in a double end cap area that’s half way down (and cutting across) one of the rows of plumbing products. It goes for about $7, and even when it’s been partially used, will not harden up until the product is mixed. 

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Refinishing Formica Laminate Furniture

RefinishingFormicaHalf the fun of refinishing vintage furniture is finding dated pieces with charming character. This summer, I’ve found several pieces that fit that bill, except that they have a cringe-worthy top surface made of Formica.

Formica is a plastic laminate, and back in the day, pieces with this top surface were sought after for their high durability. 40 years later, many of these furniture pieces are still holding up well! It’s heat and water resistant, and in it’s own right a great product. Nonetheless, it just seems out of place on nice wood furniture with it’s faux wood design.

Enter paint, glaze, and distressing! Formica furniture can be refinished just like pieces with real wood top surfaces. The key is to use a high quality primer that will adhere well to the laminate surface.

My go-to product of choice is spray Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer.  Available at Lowe’s, this product provides outstanding coverage and it has fantastic adhesion.

Before priming, I prepare the Formica surface with 60 grit sand paper. I use this rougher grade to rough up the glossy surface, insuring strong adhesion for the long haul. The coats of primer and paint will fill scratch marks from the sandpaper.

I apply the spray primer to the entire piece since I’ll be applying latex enamel, which needs a primer coat underneath. I also apply the primer so that the surfaces are entirely covered in white, which insures a solid coat.

One can will cover an end table, while two will cover a dresser. Once applied, the primer will dry and be ready for painting within 30-60 minutes. Before painting, I go back over the entire piece gently with a fine grade sanding sponge to remove primer dust buildup. I then clean off the dust with a shop vac and a quick wipe down with a moist rag.

After I have painted, glazed, and distressed, I love how the primer pops through and adds to the character of my newly upstyled piece!  As seen below, the white pops through, adding to the new look and charm of this vintage hexagon end table!

New to refinishing furniture with a paint brush? Our DIY eBook Facelift Your Furniture provides all the steps and a list of all the supplies you need to get the job done. Use discount code ILOVEDIY to purchase for only $6.49!

Hex End Table Blazing Orange

Hexagon end table in Blazing Orange with Black Glaze. Distressed down to white primer and original wood tones. Original pulls painted black.  Find more inspiration in our End Tables Collection.

Refinished Formica Octagon End Table

 

Green Octogon End TableA great thing about painting, glazing, and distressing furniture is what can be done with dated pieces. Customers are often surprised to learn that old formica laminate surfaces can be painted!

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 primer makes it possible.

This octogon end table is a great example.  It’s painted in Lowe’s Valspar “Homestead Resort Pale Olive”, which was provided by the owner for her custom order.  It was lightly distressed, and has Espresso colored glaze providing an antiqued look that accents the detailed areas.

The great thing about painting pieces like this is that with this newly upstyled look, you would never know it originally had such a dated surface!