Painting wooden furniture a hotly debated subject in some circles


Painting antique wooden furniture is a hot topic among furniture restorers.

Andrea Hoffman, owner of Furniture on 5th, uses paint to revive worn antiques. With a fresh coat of paint, Hoffman says she can turn an unused piece into a trendy focal point.

Vintage wooden furniture in any level of disrepair is worthy of restoration, Hoffman said. A good sanding, primer and paint can cover any damage. The original wooden finish may need to be covered, but the build quality of the furniture remains the same.

“Anything that’s solid wood is worth salvaging. Solid wood is harder and harder to find. I feel like most everything can be repaired and fixed up unless it has smoke damage or if the rails are bad and can’t be replaced,” Hoffman said.

Many antiques feature hand-carved features, which are nearly impossible to find on modern furniture, Hoffman said. Dovetail joinery, a series of overlapping, flared connectors that join two pieces of wood, according to, is also rare. Such features were common in furniture from the 1900s, making antiques from that era particularly popular, according to Hoffman.

Furniture on 5th accepts vintage furniture in a variety of conditions. Some pieces that come to her store are in good shape and need minimal restoration. Others have deep gouges, water damage or broken hardware. Sometimes the damage is so severe that a coat of paint is the only way to save the antique, Hoffman said.

“A lot of them come with scratches that are so deep. We just have to spray it,” Hoffman said.

Many of Hoffman’s pieces are sourced from local nursing homes. She picks up unclaimed, left-behind furniture. Other antiques are brought by movers when clients no longer want them. Hoffman also accepts restoration and customization projects for privately owned furniture.

Besides cosmetic damage, sometimes wooden furniture doesn’t match the space and needs a different color. Sometimes fresh paint is the only way to make an antique usable, Hoffman said. She said an heirloom-quality piece of furniture should not be left unused just because it doesn’t match the decor.

“If we can freshen them up and they’ll be used in the home on a daily basis, that’s what we should be doing,” Hoffman said.

Wood can be dark, and sometimes owners need a brightly colored focal point for a room, Hoffman said. Using paint to give an antique color can make it shine, especially in a home featuring lots of wood.

“Most people have wood floors and maybe even wood doors. You add wood furniture and there’s nothing that stands out,” Hoffman said. “[When painted] it becomes the focal point, and people come in and ask where you got your furniture.”

Though antique restoration is hard, Hoffman finds joy in satisfying her customers. Seeing a customer find the perfect piece of furniture makes the hard work worthwhile, Hoffman said.

“Having happy people who are happy and content with your work is nice,” Hoffman said. “I keep doing it because every time somebody buys something I’m all excited.”

Hoffman began Furniture on 5th in Yacolt 15 years ago, so she could work from home. She moved from her garage and into her new workshop in Battle Ground two months ago.

“I have a daughter who’s 25 and autistic, and this is my way to support her,” Hoffman said. “It’s nice that I’m here, and she’s there. I can check on her, make her food and come back to work again.”

To learn more about Furniture on 5th, visit, or call Hoffman at 360-989-4383.