I have a piece of furniture that is in need of some improvements. This is the piece:

General view

As you may already see, there are a lot of light marks in it. If we look closer to the surface, this is how it looks like in some areas:


And like this:


I'm not sure what kind of wood this is. I was trying to avoid sanding it because I like the current color and lighter finishing in the edges and I don't think I will be able to make it look as is.

Is there any way to minimize the marks? Some polisher that can be applied?

I don't know much about this kind of stuff and don't want to end up ruining the piece.

5 Answers 5


You need to figure out what the finish is before you do anything. I suspect it is some kind of solid stain or paint with a polyurethane clear coat, but it could be epoxy or any other number of combinations. The type of wood doesn't matter much in your case.

Here's one resource to help with your analysis. Keep googling. And check the back and bottom for manufacturer and brand information.

I do very little with my furniture besides cleaning. They wear their dings with honor. The first one looks bad, but get enough of them and it's a "patina", "texture", or "interest". Although they don't have the solid finish yours does.

  • As this is a factory finished piece, in all likely hood whatever is on there will be much more aggressive than anything a homeowner might throw at it (i.e. catalyzed poly, conversion varnish, pre-cat lacquer, etc.) In any case a wipe-on poly doesn't have enough build to trap the voc's from the solvent which is what can cause damage to the existing finish. If anything you might have trouble with adhesion but since we don't want the poly to stay on the existing finish anyway that's not a concern in this application.
    – user23534
    Commented Aug 3, 2014 at 15:45

Since the piece is already distressed I'd say just go with it. Lightly sand out any rough spots with 280, clean off the white marks with whatever works and then take a gel stain that matches the color of the distressed edges (the lighter reddish color). Once that's dry (3-4 hours, longer if its cold and humid, no harm in waiting overnight) take a low sheen wipe-on poly and apply it to any spots that got the stain, then wipe back off thoroughly. This will seal the spots that got down to bear wood without leaving any residue on the factory finish. Later if you see smudges take some mineral spirits and wipe vigorously with a soft cotton cloth. Cheers.


Cleaning the piece is a good start. You should use a cleaner intended for furniture that does not leave any wax or polish behind, such as Simple Green (there are many others). Some of the light colored marks may come off.

Since it is an older piece and you don't want to do an overall refinishing, you can touch up the lighter spots and the small gouges with a touch-up marker.

touch-up marker

These are basically permanent markers that come in a range of colors. Choose a few that look close, both lighter and darker.

Experiment in an out-of-sight area. You can mix colors by putting one over or alongside one another. Have a paper towel handy to wipe off excess before it dries (only a second or two). You can also blend it while it is still wet by wiping with a paper towel dipped in denatured alcohol. But before using alcohol, make sure it won't dull the existing finish by testing in a concealed area.

The marks, scratches and chips will not go away completely, but the touch-up may make them fairly unnoticeable.

 Images and links are for illustration only and not an endorsement of goods or sources.

If you want to get rid of the white marks you can try a cleaning product called Magic Eraser (or similar but this is what I am familiar with) this product will remove those white marks on the surface.

Alternatively, you can clean the surface and use a latex paint. You will need to lightly sand the areas similar to picture 2 since you don't want to catch an edge. If you don't want to sand the entire piece down or spend much time on it then this is the way to go.


You might be surprised what a black magic marker can do in a situation like this. when carefully applied, a very simple fix. The finish looks like black lacquer, better not to mess with it.

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