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How To Know Whether To Replace Or Repair Furniture

At Kilmister Furniture Restoration, we like to think we’re honest people. If you email us pictures of furniture and we think it’s probably not worth repairing, we’ll tell you. Furniture repair is usually a viable option, as your piece may mean something special to you. But sometimes, your cabinet, table or chairs may be beyond repair or made of wood that’s not worth fixing up. 

To save yourself some time, it can be good to have enough understanding to make your own judgement call as to whether furniture repair or furniture restoration are worthwhile options. This blog will weigh up the pros and cons and cover key considerations to help you decide to repair or buy new. 

Table of Contents

Common damage to wooden furniture

Before making a call as to whether you should replace or repair wooden furniture, it’s important to know what to look for, to begin with. There are, of course, obvious signs of damage. In saying that, there are also less obvious signs of wear that, if left unchecked, can become serious over time. Here are some varying types of damage we often encounter at Kilmister Furniture Restoration.

Water damage

Wooden chest of drawers showcases extensive water damage.

Because it’s organic matter, your favourite wooden boardroom table and chairs don’t mix well with water. Too much moisture can cause wooden furniture to harbour mould and even rot. As well as that, too much moisture can cause the wood to swell. If your wooden furniture has stains, blushing or white spots, it could have water damage. 


Wooden cabinet showing a large scratch on the surface.

Depending on the size or location of the scratch, surface scratches can be a pretty obvious sign that your wooden furniture needs work. Watches and writing straight onto a wooden surface are common ways to cause scratches. The good news is that minor scratches are often only on the finish, not the wood itself. In this case, wood furniture restoration or refinishing may be all that’s needed. 

Top tip: For tips on preventing scratches to a table, read our guide on how to care for your boardroom table and chairs.

Borer holes

Plank of wood showing damage in the form of borer holes.

A collection of small holes in wooden furniture is most likely from borer. Borer beetles can lay up to 100 eggs. After four or five weeks, these eggs hatch into larvae that then bore tunnels in wood. Depending on the extent of the damage from borer, you could strengthen the wood or even cut damaged areas out. In some cases, though, your furniture may need to be replaced.


Bed side tables that show damage by mold.

You may have noticed mould on your curtains before. But mould can also grow on wooden furniture if the humidity is right and airflow is restricted. Mould not only looks bad, but it can also cause problems for your health. Most of the time, you can just clean mould, but it can seriously damage wooden furniture if left alone.

Smoke damage

Wooden chest of drawers that is covered in smoke damage.

Especially during winter, when it’s cold outside, smoke damage can mean you need to consider wood furniture restoration or repair. Small soot particles can land on your favourite pieces, whether smoke from the fireplace, if you smoke cigarettes inside, or even a house fire. This can cause stains or colour fading over time.

Sun damage

Wooden furniture that shows extensive sun damage.

Like our skin, too much exposure to UV rays from the sun can cause damage to your wooden furniture. Especially if you have furniture that sits by the window under constant sunlight, you may notice the colour of the wood will fade over time.

Structural damage

Joints of a wooden chair that are broken and snapped.

Structural damage is the main cause of large-scale furniture repair. Things like broken joints, snapped wood or dents in a tabletop usually require furniture to be pulled apart, fixed and reassembled. Causing structural damage to furniture is more common than you may think, whether from dropping heavy items on them, moving house or wobbly chairs in general.

Benefits of replacing your furniture

Once you understand what caused the damage to your wooden furniture, you’ll then want to weigh up the pros and cons of furniture repair vs buying new. As mentioned, we’ll offer our advice if we don’t think it’s worth repairing or restoring your furniture. There are some benefits to just buying new, including: 

  • You can stay up with the latest trends
  • You have a chance to refresh your decor 
  • Some new furniture is more comfortable than older furniture
Wooden furniture that suits the decor of a living room.

Drawbacks of replacing your furniture

Just like with anything in life, there are also cons to choosing to buy new over furniture repair or furniture restoration. With any furniture, it’s always a case-by-case basis. However, some of the drawbacks of buying new furniture may include: 


  • Large upfront cost
  • It can be tough to find something that fits your existing decor 
  • Throwing out old furniture can have an environmental impact
  • Many modern furniture options have a poor level of craftsmanship

Benefits of repairing your furniture

We may be slightly biased, but at Kilmister Furniture Restoration, we believe there are many pros to opting for furniture repair or furniture restoration. We’ve heard some fantastic success stories of people who thought their favourite piece was beyond repair but contacted us and were pleasantly surprised by what was possible. Some benefits of wooden furniture restoration and furniture repair include:


  • Cheaper than buying new
  • Better for the environment
  • Increase the value of your piece
  • Sentimental value
  • You can hand down your furniture to future generations


For inspiration on what we could do with your furniture repair or restoration, check out some of our previous work on our website. We keep our website up to date regularly with our latest projects.

Antique Davenport compact writing desk that has been French polished by Kilmister Furniture Restoration.

Drawbacks of repairing your furniture

There are some cons to repairing wooden furniture over buying new as well. Considering all angles will help you to make the best decision for your unique situation. Some drawbacks of repairing furniture include:

  • You may be without the furniture while it’s being repaired
  • You’ll need to get your furniture to and from the repair shop (unless you get us to pick up and deliver!)
  • There may be a slight delay for the repairer to get to your work
Tony Kilmister standing in the back of the Kilmister Furniture Restoration van.

Considerations when choosing between replacing and repairing furniture

Once you’ve figured out the type of damage your furniture has and have weighed up the pros and cons of buying new vs furniture repair, some other considerations may impact your choice. Here are some other things to keep in mind.

Sentimental value

Especially if you’re considering restoring antique furniture, there may be sentinel value to consider. If you have an old coffee table that’s been handed down through the generations, it could be pretty sad just to throw it out if it was damaged. As well as that, some antique pieces of furniture are worth a lot


Top tip: When it comes to antique furniture restoration, French polishing is often a great option. Read our blog that answers the question, what is French polishing?

The type of wood

Not all furniture is made from the same material or wood. If your furniture is made from cheap plastic, it’s probably not worth repairing. Also, it can be challenging to repair plastic, to begin with. Veneer furniture is well worth fixing, and we can help you with that at Kilmister Furniture Restoration. Other woods that we often fix up and restore include:


  • Oak
  • Maple
  • Cherry
  • Elm 
  • Beach
  • Kauri 
  • Rimu


Another thing to look for is a manufacturer’s stamp. Sometimes the stamp will tell you who made the piece and whether it’s worth repairing. Who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised by the furniture maker and your piece’s worth!

Cutler desk that is damaged, scratched and it awaiting to be worked on by Kilmister Furniture Restoration.
Cutler desk that has been restored and repolished by Kilmister Furniture Restoration.

The type of damage

We’ve covered common types of damage that may warrant furniture repair or furniture restoration. However, there are always varying degrees of damage. For example, structural damage. Broken joints and chips are well worth repairing. However, if your wooden furniture is snapped in half in the body completely, it may be more trouble than it’s worth. We’re happy to offer our advice when it comes to this.


If money grew on trees, wouldn’t life be easy? As we’ve mentioned, money is always a key consideration when weighing up buying new vs repairing furniture. Buying new is often the more expensive option than repairing. So, if you’re on a budget, this is worth keeping in mind. At Kilmister Furniture Restoration, we’re always happy to provide a free, no-obligation quote to give you an idea of price when weighing up your options.

How to repair your furniture

If you’ve landed on furniture repair or furniture restoration, we’re happy to help. Depending on the type of damage, there are many different levers we can pull. Kilmister Furniture Restoration has been restoring and repairing furniture for over 30 years. Over this time, we have mastered our craft for an excellent end product every time. 


Generally, we will repair structural damage before looking at refinishing or restoration. As part of structural repair work, we may: 


  • Deconstruct furniture
  • Fix broken parts
  • Cramp and reglue 


After this, we would then look at furniture restoration options, including French polishing or other lacquer finishes. For modern furniture, repainting could even be an option.

Mahogany armchair held together with clamps while glue sets as part of rejoining process.
Mahogany armchair that has had it's joints re-glued and wood repolished by Kilmister Furniture Restoration.

Bring your furniture back to its former glory with Kilmister Furniture Restoration

Whether you’re looking into French polishing, furniture restoration or furniture repair, we’re happy to help at Kilmister Furniture Restoration. For more information about what we offer, or to get a free quote, fill out the form on our website, and we’ll be in touch. For more insight into some of the work we do, read our guide that explores the difference between furniture restoration and furniture refinishing