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How to Refinish Ethan Allen Heirloom Nutmeg Furniture

Ethan Allen furniture is known for its durability, so you will often find it as heirloom furniture. Like any heirloom furniture, the finish fades with time and use and needs to be redone. The most difficult part of refinishing the Ethan Allen Heirloom Nutmeg furniture is that Ethan Allen no longer provides the Nutmeg stain to customers. Even though it has been one of the most popular stain colors over the life of the company, Ethan Allen is no longer selling the stain by itself.


  1. Spread a drop cloth over the work surface and place the Ethan Allen Nutmeg furniture on it. Use a large drop cloth in case of spatter. Ventilate the room by opening a window if possible, and use rubber gloves.
  2. Paint the Heirloom Furniture Stripper over all the wood of the piece with the paintbrush. Coat generously, making sure to get stripper into the crevices, if there are any. Most pieces in this particular Ethan Allen line have no decorative crevices, except for the chairs, which feature spindles with crevices. Also, using the brand-name stripper mentioned above is recommended for this particular furniture, since it's heirloom furniture. Allow the stripper to remain on the wood for 10 to 20 minutes, or until the stain is sufficiently soft.
  3. Scrape the stripper material and stain with the scraper. Scrub the excess off with the steel wool. Remove any extra stripper collected in grooves, if your piece has the spindles, with the scraper, and then clean the wood with a paper towel and paint thinner. Sand any remaining stain with sandpaper.
  4. Locate the nutmeg stain, if possible. It may be available online via resale vendors, but it is no longer sold by Ethan Allen. Purchase the closest available color if you cannot locate the exact stain. Check local hardware stores for odd lot assortments and big chain hardware stores for their immense color selection. Ethan Allen recommends using an oil-based stain for maximum protection of the wood when it's in use.
  5. Rub the stain into the wood using a lint-free cloth, rubbing along the grain. Keep your strokes even so the stain does not collect in any one place. Swipe a paper towel through the crevices, if you are refinishing a chair with spindles, to avoid over-darkening those sections.
  6. Rub excess stain off, making sure to leave an even coat on the furniture. Let the furniture dry overnight before proceeding to the final step.
  7. Paint a finisher onto the wood, covering the entire piece. Again, the Ethan Allen care manual recommends an oil finish rather than a polyurethane, as it maintains the antique nature of the piece.

Things You Will Need

  • Heirloom furniture stripper
  • Drop cloth
  • Steel wool
  • Paper towels
  • Paint thinner
  • Scraper
  • Sand paper
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Paint brush
  • Nutmeg furniture stain
  • Rubber gloves

Tips

  • If you don't wish to strip the piece yourself, several furniture refinishing companies offer to only strip the piece, allowing you to do the actual staining.
  • If there is only slight fading in the furniture, consider using a stain restorative, which blends the remaining stain to cover blemishes.

Warning

  • Be careful of spatter when refinishing. The stripper and stain products are strong chemicals that can wreck carpeting, wood floors or clothing if accidentally applied.

About the Author

Based in Chicago, Joanna Davidson has been writing professionally since 2004. She has worked as a medical writer for companies such as Abbott Labs, Reputation and HH Financial, and her freelance articles have appeared in "Scripture Press," "Trinity Magazine" and other periodicals. Davidson holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Trinity International University.