Tea Time for Chairs

Americans have many talents, including buying new things. Often times we sell or throw away perfectly good items that simply needed some TLC (tender loving care). Worn items can bring warmth and encourage life in a space and it’s worth it to give them a refresh from time to time. For now, I’d like to spotlight an easy fix for wood furniture.

I purchased used wood chairs expecting them to be in better condition than they were. Luckily, the distressed look is a great alternative to brand new provided that items are clean and free of sharp edges. To achieve the look I wanted, I gathered a few supplies:

  • WASH: Dish soap, water and sponge
  • SAND: Fine grit sand paper, wood chisel
  • WIPE: Bona wood cleaner
  • STAIN: Black tea, small paint brush, sponge, paper towels


After giving the chairs several wipe downs with soapy water, I took my fine grit sand paper and smoothed any rough edges and dents resulting in lighter, exposed wood. I also used my wood chisel to take off any splinters and excess wood glue. Once washed, sanded and chiseled, I gave them one final wipe down with Bona wood cleaning wipes. While they dried, I went to brew some black tea so that I could better blend the exposed edges with the rest of the chair.

Since the chairs only needed minor touchups, I didn’t want to go to the trouble of buying a stain to match. Instead, I used regular black tea since it contains tannins that take to raw wood (especially pine) and is very forgiving. Even with the first coat, the nearly white wood started to blend right in. I alternated using the paint brush and sponge, depending on the area size and following up with a paper towel to catch any drips. All in all, I probably put on about 4-5 coats to get the color I wanted.

After about 10 minutes of drying, they were ready to use!

Tea isn’t limited to minor fixes. In fact, a blend of black tea, vinegar and steel wool can be used to antique and fully stain entire pieces of raw wood furniture. For those of your who are coffee fanatics, you’re in luck! A good dark French roast can do wonders on stark white paint. For more details see the following articles:

Tea Bag Staining

Coffee Aging

Weathering and Distressing Furniture

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