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The Journal Gazette

Friday, March 17, 2017 10:01 pm

Easy fixes at home

How to restore the finish on bark-covered furniture:

Old Hickory Furniture Co. in Shelbyville (800-232-2275; refinishes pieces like this all the time, said Bob Morrison, a company representative. Old Hickory could refinish the piece and reweave a seat and back like the original design for about $300.

If you want to do the work yourself, the company recommends that you first inspect the furniture to make sure it is structurally sound. If you find a problem, email the company at and ask for advice.

Assuming that you find nothing beyond problems with the finish, begin by cleaning the furniture with soapy water and a stiff brush; don’t use a power washer. Rinse and let the piece dry. Then sand with 150-grit sandpaper, followed by 220-grit. Do this by hand, going just deep enough to remove the old finish but not so deep that you take off all the bark. Wipe off all the sanding debris, ideally with something like a microfiber cloth that really grabs the dust.

Then apply a coat or two of a clear, exterior wood varnish. The company suggests General Finishes Exterior 450, a clear, water-based finish with ingredients that absorb ultraviolet rays from the sun, helping to prevent damage to the wood. It comes in gloss, semigloss and satin. Woodcraft ( sells this product for $25 a quart and $70 a gallon.

How to stop a draft at the bottom of a door:

Sometimes when a draft seems to be coming from the bottom of a door, the air is actually seeping in only at the bottom corners, through the small gaps between the sweep and the weatherstripping on both sides of the door frame. You can plug these gaps with small squares of foam, which are sold alongside weatherstripping materials at home centers and hardware stores. Home Depot carries the Frost King version, called Door Corner Guards for Inswing Entry Doors. Sold four to a pack for $3, they come with an adhesive backing. Or you can make your own corner draft-stoppers by nailing squares of felt approximately 2 inches tall by 13/4 inches wide to the bottom of each side of the door frame, in line with where the door is when it is closed.

If the drafts persist, adjust the door sweep itself slightly downward. Door sweeps typically have elongated holes for screws, which allows room for some adjustment. Loosen all the screws, tap the top edge of the door sweep down so the sweep touches the threshold under the door, then re-tighten the fasteners.

If that doesn’t work, you might need to buy a new sweep. Be sure to measure the gap between the bottom of the door and the top of the threshold, and buy a style designed to plug a gap at least that tall.

– Jeanne Huber, Washington Post