Removing veneer?

jane__nyApril 2, 2009

Want to refinish a night table. It has a veneer coating which has cracked and chipped. I'd like to get it off.

Any suggestions,


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The wood under the veneer is called secondary wood---you will need to replace the veneer is you remove it.

And removing it---the veneer has been glued on---is most easily done by sanding it off. That will be prohibitively expensive in sandpaper and mess.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 6:18AM
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Water is usually yo0ur friend in lifting veneer.

Add about a teaspoon of liquid dish soap to a gallon of water and slop it on the veneer.

If there is any finish present remove it with either sanding, the correct solvent, or paint stripper.

You may have commercial urea based glue holding the veneer, and than mechanical (sanding) really is about the only way.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 7:20PM
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Thank you. The veneer was a black shiny finish (like a Chinese type furniture)and the wood underneath looks like plywood. It is unfinished but greyish looking. I love the night tables and wanted to paint the tops a glossy black. The sides of the tables are the same finish but intact. Only the tops are cracked and peeling.

I'm afraid if I soak them with water, the drawers and sides might warp. I've been trying to scrape it off with a paint scraper, but this is not working well.

The photo makes it look like peeling paint, but it is a thin wood. I was hoping to save this table as it is part of a bedroom set.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 11:54PM
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Just an idea mind you but how about going over the veneer with another veneer skin. They have wood veneers that are "3M" backed, meaning that they a self sticking. Come in several different woods (oak, cherry, etc.)

Regards, rredogg

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 8:59PM
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Jane, it's not clear whether we're really talking about veneer (an almost paper-thin slice of wood) or paint. Can you provide a sharp, close-up pic of the damaged area, including some edges of the black finish?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 8:07AM
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Sorry, didn't read the caption on the second pic. So, it is veneer. There's no magic wand you can wave at it to remove the veneer; you have to either soften the adhesive or abrade the veneer away with sandpaper. The sandpaper method will be messy, time-consuming and difficult to do well. The glue may soften with moisture alone or with vinegar (if you remove the paint first so that the moisture can penetrate the veneer and get to the glue), or with heat, depending on what sort of glue was used. If neither heat nor moisture nor vinegar works then you're stuck with abrasion (again:time consuming, messy, difficult to do well).

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 12:03PM
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I'm late, but don't have much to add that has not already been covered. However, I'd consider the self-stick veneer, if it works and you are less than 24" in the shortest dimension. Another option is to apply a nice black laminate (Formica, WilsonArt, etc.) that will be moisture and solvent resistant was well as being a little more forgiving with application.

Here is a link that might be useful: PSA Veneer

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 6:05PM
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Just checked back and what wonderful info. I never knew anything like that existed. I'll take a closer pic of the table tomorrow. I assume the veneer sheet would have to be finished. That would be a learning curve for me. I was thinking of removing the cracked surface and painting it black.

But now this really looks interesting.

Thanks so much


    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 2:04AM
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The thing is, with part of the old veneer already gone, there's no longer a flat surface to adhere new veneer to. I can see the PSA veneer as an option after removing the rest of the old stuff, but I don't think it would work well to apply it to the surfaces in their current state.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 9:39AM
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Could I sand the top and use black, glossy paint and just paint it?


    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 12:29AM
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Regardless of whether you add new veneer or paint, I think you're going to need to remove the existing veneer before proceeding. I'd just dig in and find out whether that will be possible / practical to do before worrying about subsequent steps. Once you see the quality of the unveneered surface, the best way to proceed will become more obvious.

If you decide that removing the old veneer is too much trouble, the high pressure laminate (kitchen counter material) option that Bob mentioned is probably a viable way to go.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 8:53AM
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What's under that veneer will be irregular and ugly.
You want to save and use the set, how about granite? And remember there are some very nice granites that are made in tiles. If that doesn't appeal, I'd go the laminate route. Removing the veneer will be a huge job....then preparing the underneath for paint, another huge job....and then painting and sanding and painting etc...
Go with a new surface entirely.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 10:08PM
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So you are saying to just lay a new surface on top of the old? Never thought of granite, but I wonder if the cabinet could support that weight. I'm going to fool with it as soon as the weather gets better. I can't sand or chip at it inside. It appears to be plywood or similar underneath. It should be paintable.

Thanks for the great suggestions, I'd really like to keep this furniture.

I tried to get a shot as close as possible. I'm not too good with the camera.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 12:49AM
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Use Minwax high performance wood filler to smooth out the damaged areas in the old veneer, and than apply a new layer.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 10:59PM
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Are you sure the surface is veneer, not just a thick coating of lacquer? To me (thanks for the bigger pic) it looks as if the lacquer is flaking and the wood underneath is OK. If that's the case, remove the black finish and proceed with whatever you want.
4 coats of black enamel will be fairly similar to the lacquer.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 11:53AM
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Casey, I'm thinking it might be enamel but don't know how to tell. I can scrape off large pieces of it.

I can't get it outside to sand it down. The weather has been cold and rainy.

What enamel would you suggest? Any info on doing that would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for all the good tips,

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 11:19PM
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