How to repair peeling veneer in 16 easy steps

While we would all love to have stunning, handmade solid oak wooden furniture in our homes, for many people, this dream is beyond their financial or practical means, and so veneered furniture has because every popular over the last 30 years. Offering a great combination of functionality and style, but without the hefty price tag that comes with true wood furniture, veneered items are both good for the home and good for the wallet too.

How to repair peeling veneer in 16 easy steps, Zazzy Home

However, there can be some downsides later on. Unlike solid wooden units, veneered furniture is normally made of a board type wood, just as MDF or Plywood is covered in a thin layer of attractive wooden veneer. After time and exposure to the elements, this thin veneer layer can age and can even start to peel in places.

This guide seeks to give you some tips on how to deal with peeling furniture without throwing it away. The key is to do this as soon as you notice the veneer starts to lift so that it doesn’t get too bad before you’re able to repair it. You might even want to take an old toothbrush and just rub out any small areas of flaking yourself while you have the chance. Yeah-it’s a lot of work, but that’s what furniture maintenance is all about

Peeling furniture veneer is a common problem-especially in humid climates like ours. But don’t worry, it’s not too difficult to fix! To do so, you’ll need to sand down the surface and then paint it with a primer before painting it with your desired color. If you don’t want to touch up the whole piece of furniture, just focus on one area at a time until it’s all fixed up!

Overview: What is Veneer?

First of all, what is veneer, and why are we even talking about it? Veneer is a thin layer of wood that’s applied over another type of wood (usually plywood) in order to give the final product a finish that’s decorative in nature. You’ll often see veneer used on furniture tops, drawer fronts, and sometimes cabinets as well. The idea behind using veneer, though, is not only decorative but also practical. Since veneer is thin and lightweight, it’s easy to transport without taking up a lot of space in transit. It can also be much thinner than the types of wood used for solid pieces, so manufacturers have more leeway when figuring out how thick they want their finished products to be (a process measured in millimeters versus inches or feet).

Veneer is also useful because it saves manufacturers from having to rely on all-natural sources for their raw materials. Although this can be helpful as far as creating a wide variety of colors and styles goes, many tree species are endangered and may become extinct due to overharvesting. Using veneer allows manufacturers to use whatever types of trees they like while still creating the designs they desire.

How to repair peeling veneer in 16 easy steps, Zazzy Home

Another benefit of using veneer is that, since it’s already thin and the color on either side can be changed by dyeing or laminating, manufacturers are able to create a variety of different effects. You can have two-tone edges, custom contoured designs, and other really unique looks that would be tough to mimic if you were just starting out with solid timber right off the bat.

Veneer is actually not a new invention at all; most wooden items made before 3000BC used it in some form! However, thanks to modern manufacturing techniques like adhesives and electric heat presses, wood veneers today are much stronger than their aged versions from centuries past. They’re also more flexible and easier to work with than solid wood as well.

How to Repair Peeling Veneer In 16 Easy Steps

Peeling veneer (or anything made with it like cabinets or furniture) can be fixed in a few steps-but before you take the plunge, there are some things that you need to consider first

1. The level of damage varies by situation, but sometimes peeling veneer can also be an indicator for more serious underlying problems. If you find that your furniture is breaking apart, this could be caused by rotting boards behind the surface and requires more than just patching up the surface layer. If water damage has occurred and mold growth has spread, this may have weakened board structures as well, so keep an eye out for any other signs of decay.

2. If your veneer is only peeling in part of the surface area, this can be a lot easier to fix-but you’ll still want to take some precautionary measures before getting started on your project. First, vacuum off all loose pieces and then cover up any wooden surfaces under it with a tarp or drop cloth for protection from more damage occurring while repairs are being made elsewhere (this will also make cleanup much faster later). You should also use waterproof adhesive during repair work so that moisture won’t get under the surface layer anytime soon after completing repairs and causing more peeling down the line.

3. Be aware that there are two different types of veneers: plastic wood and real wood. Plastic wood imitates real wood with molded layers of plastic resin, but real wood has a more natural look and feel to it. While plastic wood is safer and less prone to long-term damage, real veneer is generally preferred because it provides the look manufacturers are going for in their products. If you want to fix peeling veneer on furniture or cabinetry, make sure that you’re using real wood veneer and not just some cheap substitute that looks like it.

4. You’ll also need a variety of other things if you want to get started on your repair job right away: scrap piece of wood (this can be a small block), sandpaper (120 grit should do since you won’t have as much work to do as when you’re replacing boards), a few different types of adhesives (elmers wood glue and polyurethane should do the trick), latex gloves, masking tape, paintbrush, and some clean water.

How to repair peeling veneer in 16 easy steps, Zazzy Home

5. Examine the peeling veneer carefully-this is where you’ll get an idea of how deep the damage goes. If it’s pretty widespread, then you may want to rip off all of the old layers and just cover up that part with fresh veneer rather than trying to fix it in place; otherwise, remove only as much as necessary, so you can get a better look at what needs fixing. You’ll also want to check out any underlying layer if there is one-if your work will be in vain after the next layer is covered up, then it’s good to find that out now.

6. If there is an underlying layer, start by removing any loosened bits of veneer with a scraper or small block of wood. Use the sandpaper to remove all traces of grit and dirt before you get started on the real work at hand. This will not only give your repair job more strength, but it will also make the entire surface look better (pretty important if you’re trying to sell it afterward, I’d say)

7. When working with polyurethane glue, use latex gloves so that you don’t spread stray particles around. Apply generous amounts of water along every edge-this gives you something wet for your adhesive to stick to. If you’re using Elmers wood glue, apply it after the polyurethane layer dries to fill in any gaps and uneven surface texture (just make sure that both layers are completely dry before proceeding with the next step).

8. all of your edges must line up perfectly-if not, then your patch job will be pretty obvious and won’t last very long at all; otherwise, just spread out a thin layer (about 1/16th inch thick), so no one will really notice the difference when you’re done. Feather out your edges by sanding down any rough or hard patches; this ensures that it blends smoothly into surrounding surfaces as well as covers up any blemishes left behind from earlier preparation work of the damaged area.

9. If you’re using real wood veneer(the more expensive option), then you’ll probably want to match your new layer of veneer with the original piece or find a board that matches pretty closely so that it easily blends in when you’re done working on your project; otherwise, just paint over the whole thing since what looks good is subjective anyway and it’s easier than having to match up layers if the final product isn’t going to be used for the show. When doing this step, have at least one extra underneath since they are pretty thin-it’s better to replace some surface areas as opposed to replacing an entire piece altogether (and more cost-effective too).

10. You’ll need a few different colors of paint depending on how many patches you’ll have to make; otherwise, just concentrate on one area until it’s fixed. Use the masking tape to cover up any surrounding surfaces that will be affected by your work (you don’t want them needing fixing as well). Paint the area around your patch with an appropriate color so that it blends in seamlessly once covered with veneer-I would suggest a darker shade and not light colors like white(too much contrast when painted over later).

11. When working with small areas, cut out pieces of extra veneer to use instead of slapping a whole sheet in place-this is because larger sheets are difficult to work with when only covering a small surface area. After placing your new layer down, add a thin layer of glue to hold it in place (and add additional layers for covering larger surface areas).

How to repair peeling veneer in 16 easy steps, Zazzy Home

12. Use a cut-out piece of cardboard to smooth out uneven or rough patches before painting over them again. Sand down the entire area if you want smoother texture coverage but make sure your patch is completely dry first(you don’t want any smearing). The only exception to this rule is polyurethane coatings since they are pretty easy to sand down when wet; otherwise, use the sander with water and fine-grit sandpaper, probably around the number 100 range for most applications(just enough so it evens things out).

13. After laying down your newly primed and painted surfaces, throw on another thin layer of polyurethane over it to hold everything in place. Allow this layer of glue to dry completely before proceeding and sanding down any rough or hard patches that were created during the painting process. If you’re using a darker color, use an even lighter shade to paint on top (this one’s pretty self-explanatory); otherwise, just use your first coat as your final one.

14. After allowing layers of polyurethane to fully dry, sand them down once more with very fine-grit sandpaper(around number 200) in order to achieve a smooth finish that will look better after being painted over later on; otherwise, just do what looks good for you since it’s not too noticeable either way especially when done correctly and finished off with a few coats of poly. If you don’t have access to sandpaper, use some steel wool(the finer, the better).

15. To finish up your project, just throw on a final coat or two of clear polyurethane over what you did, and it’s ready to be used again; otherwise, leave it as is for that worn-off look(but make sure it’s dry first!).

If you decide to paint over the whole thing, then do so once everything is completely dried. You can even stain raw wood if you want to, but that will take more time than normal since staining takes longer to apply in general due to the process involved with doing so.

16. Before using your newly repaired surface area, hit it with another coat or two of polyurethane to add additional protection from minor bumps and bruises; otherwise, just let it air out for a day or two before using if you don’t mind the look.

Keep in mind that this process will take at least a few days to complete since each coat takes at least 24 hours to dry and some more time than usual due to the humid environment here in Florida (the humidity will slow down the drying process).

Once you’re happy, it’s time to enjoy your newly repaired peeling veneered furniture! Your friends and family will never know that it used to look quite so bad. Ensure that you provide regular maintenance on all of your wooden household items, especially in the kitchen area where moisture is most prevalent.

With a little elbow grease and some good materials, your peeling veneered furniture should come right back up to scratch! However, after living in humid environments like ours for many years (particularly if we’ve had wooden items in our household), some pieces can become damaged by their exposure to moisture like water or mold growth. This may cause the veneer to begin peeling off and can make for some embarrassing appearances at special events. If this happens to an expensive item, or if you just don’t want to replace it-try repairing it instead! This article will show you how.

We hope this article has helped you learn how to fix your peeling furniture. If not, or if you need more information about a particular step, feel free to contact us, and we’ll be happy to help!


Meet Jeff. For the last 10 years, he's been repairing and fixing problem homes - from leaky roofs to faulty wiring. He started blogging about his experiences as a way to help others who might be struggling with home repairs, and he's become something of an expert in the field. Jeff is always up for a challenge, and he loves sharing his tips and advice with others. When it comes to home repairs, Jeff knows what he's talking about. So if you're looking for some help and guidance, be sure to check out his latest guide!

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