* Photo supplied. BS&R fabricated and finished this Virginia cedar entry with very little stain and varnish.
* Photo supplied. BS&R fabricated and finished this Virginia cedar entry with very little stain and varnish.
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You like the contours of your solid wood rocking chair. Its sturdy back and arms, wide seat and cross bars make it unusually comfortable and strong, but you're tired of looking at it. The stain and varnish on this modern piece is overdue a makeover.

Bermuda Stripping & Refinishing (BS&R) can chemically strip, rather than scrape and sand the rocker, so as not to compromise the state of the wood.

"This style of stripping off old finishes [allows] for the wood... to be preserved, while lifting the finish off," BS&R's Anthony Madeiros explained.

Antiques

According to Mr. Madeiros, even antiques can be stripped without compromising their value.

You can have the rocking chair re-stained and re-varnished in a different colour.

You might prefer a faux finish, or base paint colour tone with other colours on top. Faux finishing, according to Mr. Madeiros, is generally used for less esthetically pleasing wood grains, such as poplar, maple, birch, Spanish cedar or western red cedar.

He noted: "[The item] would have been painted red as a base colour. Then we apply the secrets that make the crackle effect; then we finish over that with a greenish colour. The peel off and crackle would show a red colour underneath and in between the cracks."

"[The] 'crackled' or 'peeled off' paint finish... gives depth and dimension to the piece of furniture," he said of the rustic paint job.

You might otherwise decide upon a distressed look, which type of finish, according to Mr. Madeiros, underlines the natural beauty of the wood and gives it the appearance of age. This finish is best utilized on chestnut, pine, oak, mahogany and Virginia cedars.

"These are woods that most likely will be used for a stained and clear finish because their natural wood tone is esthetically pleasing," Mr. Madeiros said.

"We like to put deep marks and gouges to achieve the depth desired in the distressed finish... [It will appear] 'beaten up' and 'scratched' before finishing, so that the stains settle in the grooves and marks, adding the depth and aged look," he said.

Because your rocking chair is oak and you use it for reading in the glassed buttery that opens onto your kitchen, it's a prime candidate for the distressed look that will beautifully match the stainless steel appliances there.

Natural look

"The stainless steel look is natural and compliments our finish well," Mr. Madeiros said.

Of course, if you're going to redo your oak rocker, you'll need to consider distressing the also-oak cabinets of your kitchen.

"To refinish kitchen cabinets that have been installed and used for a period of time, we would redo all the doors in our shop, but would have to go to the site to redo the faces of the mounted units. This task can be messy and time consuming, so we prefer to stay away from that," Mr. Madeiros said. "But we rarely say no to a job."

He suggested that rustic looking hardware, such as BS&R get from dealer Omnia will go well with your cabinets' new look. The customer's preference, however, determines the outcome. In some cases, the client will provide their own hardware.

Mr. Madeiros talked about the skill and experience needed to distress wood and noted how the process came about.

"This type of finishing has been around as long as most antiques, but it occurred naturally and then was replicated by skilled craftsmen," he said.

Usage and abuse

In explaining the making of antique reproductions, Mr. Madeiros said: "The craftsmen would add the dents and scratches so the piece of furniture would look like it has survived a lifetime or two of usage and abuse. He would then stain it to take away the raw redness of the fresh wood. After these processes, it would be made in the shape and design of the antique as well as resemble the age of the original piece."

Mr. Madeiros also said: "We can fabricate and finish any piece of architectural millwork, doors, cabinets, etc. in this way, as well as apply this finish to a piece of furniture. Most of our business is custom, so potentially we can do this for every piece of work we get, but that is up to the customer and job at hand."