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Wood has become a staple of the home décor aesthetic, be it with “white and wood” tones or wooden accents across a Hygge or modern space. There is just something about a warm wooden note that can really lift the mood of your home.
However, with this trend in antique wooden furniture or any other wood-based features in your home, the chances of a chip or two marring those beautiful statement pieces is now higher than ever.
Tip: Use a Wood Chip Fixing Kit
For an easy fix, use a chip fixing kit. You can mix the colors of wood filler for a good match to the shade of your furniture or wooden piece.
If you do find yourself stuck with a chip in a wooden item around your house, there are many ways you can fix it before you decide to bring in a professional to the scene. Read on to learn our favorite methods on how to fix chipped wood.
How to Fix Chipped Wood
Types of Damages and What You Can Do
Right off the bat, the extent of the damage you’re dealing with makes a whole lot of difference in what you need to be doing.
1. Scratches and Nicks
In most such cases, the wood base or its stain is intact, so you just need to replenish the finishing layer. Before you apply any coating though, text the finish using a damp cloth to figure out what kind you’ve got coating your furniture. If the hydration softens it, it’s lacquer, or else it’s a variant of polyester resin.
Lacquer finishes typically don’t have any home tricks for their replacement. The resin models, however, are a different story. A neat fix in such situations would be to use clear nail polish to coat the scratch. If it’s a genuinely minute scratch, you can also use crayons to patch it up.
If your scratch is particularly conspicuous, it is most likely because the color in the neighboring patch has worn out. To remedy this, you could either reuse the original stain to retouch the discolored area, or use specific retouching markers that match the same shade.
As for the finish, you can go back to clear nail polish. Although, if the scratch is over a particularly large surface area, you can also create a fine, even layer with paste wax.
2. Veneer Surface Chips
Very often, the finish that you see on your wooden furniture is actually a veneer glued over a less aesthetic but more solid wooden frame. But as the base wood gets water damage or the glue wears out, the veneer becomes loose and begins to chip off.
Body fillers like Bondo does come helpful in this case, as they essentially fill in and even out the surface to match it with original veneer coat. But if the glue is more or less entirely cracked, another thing you can try is to take out the coating altogether, and paint the core wood structure instead.
3. Deeper Gouges and Dents
For deep gouges or cracks, using standard body fillers or putty is not advisable as any expansion in the material can oftentimes worsen the crack it was meant to fix. Wax putty sticks, once melted, are runny and can reach the deep crevices that thicker pastes wouldn’t be able to. They also come in several wood-like tones so making them match your furniture is all the more effortless.
And even if you feel like there is a slight color mismatch between the putty and the original grain of the wood, worry not. Once you cover it all up with a layer of paste wax, these kinds of discrepancies will need a magnifying glass to be identified.
4. Broken Corners or Many Layers of Wood Stripped
Now this is where you really need a lot of work. If the damage is bad enough that splinters of wood are slipping out of the concerned area, you need stronger materials than simple wax putty. In such cases, you want to go with either wood fillers or wood putty, depending on where and how the damage has taken place.
How to Fix Major Damage in Chipped Wood
Superficial damage like scratches or flaked veneer is not highly technical when it comes to fixing. For the most part, it’s just a filler followed by a covering coat.
But more major chips, like a corner having a chunk missing or a deep gouge going down to the underlayers of the wood plank, definitely need more than just cursory guidance. If your problem back home is similar to these forms of damage, you might want to pay attention to the following set of steps:
1. Start out by sanding the area you want to fill. If there are lose splinters or specks, the filler doesn’t get as strong a grip to hold onto. So, making sure the surface is clean and smoothened (preferably with some steel wool), goes a long way in improving the filler’s adhesive capacity.
2. If your fix doesn’t need any sort of molding of the binding material (i.e., if it’s a smaller crack or a dent in a flat plane), you can go for wood fillers or putty. They start out at a paste consistency and don’t hold firm shape until they fully dry, so they’re better off for “filling-in” purposes.
3. Mix in either the filler or the putty with the hardener in small bits and start packing them into the crack. Make sure you mix them in smaller amounts, and the paste will begin to harden within five minutes of interacting. It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to harden fully.
4. However, if a corner or a leg is broken, you want to start by hammering in either finish or brad nails — depending on the amount of support you think you’ll need.
5. Hammer in the nails in an equidistant manner, keeping in mind the dimensions of the final molded shape.
6. For molding purposes, while you can use wood putty, another almost intermediate option between fillers and putty is to make use of wood epoxy. It is clay-like in texture and highly useful for shaping, but dried hard enough that you can sand the finished product.
7. Once the nails have been hammered into place, start by taking a small bit from the epoxy stick and lodge it onto the nail. Because it dries fairly fast, you need to judge pretty quickly if you’re going to need anymore of the epoxy — if you take too long figuring that out, the lodged bit will have already dried and hardened.
8. When you have sufficient material to mold, shape it to a general model of the original, and begin to trim off the excess. Use a razor blade or a cutter knife to create the edges and planes, and then smoothen the shape out with water. All this should be happening within five minutes of fixing the epoxy onto the nails.
9. When satisfied with the overall shape, let it dry for about half an hour before you begin sanding. You could start larger with about a 150-grit sandpaper for the first rounds of smoothening, but if it’s not too big a fix, just go all the way through with 120-grit on an orbital sander.
10. You can stain or paint over the finished product with whatever you chose, but typically resin derivates (like putty or epoxy) don’t take in stains so well. Your best chance then, is to try and replicate the original wood grain with acrylic paints.
11. Once you’re satisfied with the base coat, give a light coating of whatever finish was used on the rest of the wooden surface to give it a clean final coat.
Are Wood Putty and Wood Filler the Same?
While most answers to the question of how to fix chipped wood suggest either wood putty or wood filler, there isn’t much information on which of the two should be used in any given scenario.
And because there is so little information provided on exactly what these materials are, they are very often mistaken for each other. After all, both of them are used in filling holes and repairing damage.
So, are wood putty and wood filler the same? Not at all. They’re incredibly different materials with just as different use cases.
Wood fillers are made of wood particles and fiber and so, its application often helps repair the wood from the inside. It isn’t manufactured in very many colors, so using it for surface finish applications is typically avoided. If you have major structural damage like the issues listed above, you’re better off using wood fillers.
On the other hand, because wood putty is made out of plastic and oil-based compounds, using it on raw wood is often harmful for that piece of wood’s constructional integrity. It also comes in various colors and grain textures because from the get-go, it was designed to be a surface-oriented fix. It’s also suited for outdoor fixes because it can expand and contract along with the wood, in response to any changes in weather.
Sure, a dent or two might be what gives your home some character. However, their presence should be by your choice. You don’t have to sport chips in your wooden furniture for your home decor to have a personality of its own.
Use the above tips and tricks on how to fix chipped wood to ensure that your home’s timber-based accents are exactly the way you’d envisioned them, be it a chic contrast against a modern gilded white note or a more homely, well-treaded all-wood one.