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How to Refinish Ethan Allen Heirloom Nutmeg Furniture

Joanna Davidson

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.