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How to Repair a Furniture Finish Damaged By Steam

Wade Shaddy
Some steam damage is simple to remove.

Steam damage on furniture is typically only finish deep. This condition, also referred to as blushing, is caused when moisture gets trapped in the finish, which is usually lacquer. There are quick fixes for this problem or more involved repairs which take a bit more time. Either way, steam damage on any type of furniture can be dealt with using simple techniques and products that you might already have around the house.

Quick and Easy

Step 1

Hold a hair dryer 8 inches from the surface of the damaged area. Turn the dryer on low and pass it over the damaged area until warm.

Step 2

Repeat the procedure three or four times per day until the finish clears.

Step 3

Dampen a cloth with rubbing alcohol if the damaged area remains white after using the hair dryer every day for a few weeks. Gently rub the surface of the damaged area. Repeat once a day until the damaged area becomes clear and the steam damage disappears.

Deeper Steam Damage

Step 1

Fold a sheet of 120-grit sandpaper into thirds. Lightly sand the damaged area by hand. Sand in an oval-shape to blend the damaged area into the existing finish.

Step 2

Check the finish. If the damaged or whitish color remains, continue sanding. If you see that the lacquer has been completely removed down to bare wood, stop sanding immediately.

Step 3

Spray a light coat of aerosol lacquer over the sanded area. Allow the lacquer to dry, and sand again using 180-grit sandpaper. Finish with one more coat of lacquer.

Last Resort

Step 1

Fold a sheet of 100-grit sandpaper into thirds if the hair dryer and alcohol treatment did not work. Sand the finish with authority, sanding with strokes parallel with the grain until the finish has been completely removed.

Step 2

Replace the sandpaper with a new piece and continue sanding to remove all of the previous stain. The wood should have a consistent, smooth appearance and feel, without any streaks, blotches or shiny spots.

Step 3

Apply a light coat of stain to the wood with a cotton cloth, saturating it. Wipe off the wet stain immediately with a dry cotton cloth. Allow the stain to dry.

Step 4

Apply a light coat of medium-gloss aerosol lacquer. When the lacquer is dry, sand the wood by hand with 180-grit sandpaper. Spray one more coat on the wood to finish.


Its not necessary to wipe the lacquer dust off the wood after the first coat. It actually aids in curing subsequent coats. Leave it in place for best results.


Be careful when using a hair dryer on wood. If it becomes hot to the touch, you're using too much heat. Wear eye protection when working with wood or wood finishing products.