Most water rings on furniture can be removed by spraying the affected area with a product called No-Blush, available online or at most commercial refinishing supply stores. Sometimes, water rings can be removed by denatured alcohol. In rare cases, it is necessary to bleach the affected area. The technique used to repair water rings will vary with the type of finish and the type of water ring.
Repairing Water Rings Requires Little Skill
Professional refinishers state that water ring removal is a common and simple repair. Often, their customers remark that if they knew how easy the repair was, they would have done it themselves. In truth, water ring removal does not take a lot of skill. What it does require, though, is a basic knowledge of finish chemistry and the nature of water rings. With such knowledge, water ring repair can be easily accomplished.
First, Understand the Nature of Furniture Finishes
A successful water ring repair begins with knowledge of the type of finish that is damaged. There are more than fifteen types of furniture finishes currently in use, but to repair water rings you only need to know two things: evaporative finishes and reactive finishes. Evaporative finishes are easy to repair, and reactive finishes are difficult to repair.
Evaporative finishes are a mixture of solids and a solvent. Once applied to wood, the solvent evaporates, leaving the solids to form the furniture finish. A characteristic of an evaporative finish is that it can be re-melted by its original solvent. The most common evaporative furniture finishes are shellac, lacquer, and wax.
Reactive finishes dry by chemical reaction; as drying occurs, the molecules in the finish bind together to form a hard and durable finish. Reactive finishes cannot be re-melted by their original solvent. Common reactive finishes are polyurethane, varnish, epoxies, and common house paint.
How to Tell What Kind of Finish is on Your Furniture
A reactive finish that is in good condition is extremely resistant to water rings. If you have water rings, chances are you have either shellac or lacquer as a finish, too much wax on your furniture, or a finish that is thin and worn. You can test a finish by rubbing an inconspicuous spot with a rag moistened with either denatured alcohol or lacquer thinner. If finish can removed by the alcohol, the finish is shellac. If finish can be removed by the lacquer thinner, the finish is lacquer. If the finish cannot be removed by either of these solvents, you have a reactive finish.
The Nature of Water Rings
There are two types of water rings: blush rings and mineral rings. Blush rings are the most common and are caused by placing drinks or hot/moist items (like a pizza box) onto furniture. Blush rings are white, and appear as cloudiness in the finish.
Mineral rings are caused by leakage from houseplant pots. Water leaks through the pot and picks up minerals from the dirt, which is carried into the wood. Mineral rings are dark colored because minerals from the water have been absorbed by the cells of the wood. Such a ring is a permanent stain. The only way to repair mineral rings is to bleach them, which requires completely stripping and refinishing the furniture.
How to Repair Blush Water Rings
Blush rings are caused by moisture trapped in the finish. The repair can be made by softening the finish enough to allow the moisture to escape. Begin by making a smooth-surfaced ball out of linen or cotton. Moisten the ball with denatured alcohol and tamp it into the palm of your hand to be sure that it is simply moist, not wet. Carefully wipe the alcohol across the blushed area. Repeat as needed, but allow the alcohol to dry between swipes; drying will only take a minute or two. Ninety percent of the time, this repair technique will work. If it does not work, I suggest buying a can of No-Blush and spraying the damaged area lightly. No-Blush will chemically soften the finish, and contains a retarder to slow down the drying time enough to allow the moisture to escape.
Repairing water rings can be easily accomplished if one knows what kind of finish is damaged, how the ring occurred and what solvent will soften the finish.
Originally posted 2013-08-27 16:47:00.