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The Furniture Restoration Process: An Interview with Mark Ryan of Furniture Medic
By Mark Ryan
Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.
Furniture Medic is the largest restoration company focused on wood furnishings and fixtures. The company was founded in Atlanta in 1992, and we recently purchased the territory serving Bernalillo and Sandoval counties.
Furniture Medic provides services to both residential and commercial clients. For residential customers, we are often asked to restore historical or sentimental pieces of furniture so that new generations of the family can enjoy it. This might be anything from repairing damaged pieces of wood to removing water stains to changing the finish on a piece. We also can change the look of existing cabinets or match pieces of wood furniture by changing the color of the wood from, for example, oak to walnut. Some of our residential customers have had furniture damaged during a move, and the moving company is paying for the repair. Furniture Medic also provides services to those who have had furniture, cabinetry or other wood surfaces damaged in a fire or flood. Since we have the ability to do work onsite and we can match a new piece of cabinetry to existing cabinetry, and just repair damaged areas (for example one cabinet). This often allows for more cost effective repairs and less inconvenience to our customers who can often continue to use their homes and kitchens while we make these less invasive repairs.
For commercial clients, we are often providing what is called “image enhancement”. As you can imagine, public spaces in businesses often take a beating. Through our image enhancement, we can remove scuffs, gouges, scratches, etc., from wood fixtures like doors, entry ways, molding, and wood furniture like tables, desks and chairs. Our service allows businesses to maintain a professional look while gaining extra life from furniture. When businesses compare what it costs to replace furniture versus having Furniture Medic provide image enhancement, it’s really no contest. Repair and restore beats replace almost every time.
I am excited to bring the Furniture Medic brand to this area. When I changed careers from teaching design technology and looked at starting my own business, I found a business that let me focus on something I really enjoy ? working with wood ? and the ability to meet new people and improve the look of their surroundings. I think people will be amazed at what Furniture Medic can do to salvage wood furniture that they thought was beyond repair or restoration. The majority of the products we use are water-based, which cuts down on chemical smell.
We completed training in Memphis, Tennessee, which is where Furniture Medic is headquartered. While we were there, we learned about color matching, repairing scuffs, gouges, scratches, etc., from wood surfaces, building molds to replace damaged parts of furniture and many other wood repair and restoration techniques. We are anxious to now show our expertise to the local community.
We would be happy to demonstrate our work to commercial businesses considering image enhancement. All they need to do is call us or visit us on the web at www.fmbespokerestoration.com or on our Facebook page, which is Furniture Medic by Bespoke Restoration. As we have developed our client base, we have been adding “before” and “after” photos to our portfolio so that people can gain a better understanding of what Furniture Medic can do. In the meantime, we would love to speak to anyone who has questions about restoring wood fixtures or furnishings.
If you could, please list the steps of the general furniture restoration process:
When taking on a restoration project, let’s say for example a table. The first step we would take would be to carry out a full inspection of the stabilization of the table, the condition of the stain & finish, we would then look to see the material used to construct the table i.e. is it veneered or solid timber. Next we would clean it, which leads to sanding/scuffing the surface then it is cleaned again. A stain is then applied if necessary and then it is ready for the final seal/top coat, which is applied a minimum of 3 times sanding slightly in between coats.
What are general restoration techniques that you use?
There are no particular techniques per say, I guess it’s all about patience and attention to detail. I treat every piece as if I were restoring it for myself.
How can a client tell if their piece is able to be restored?
All pieces can be restored to some extent. One factor that would prevent you from restoring would be if the restoration process is to exceed the value of the piece. Having said that I have restored some items with sentimental value where the customer did not care about this discrepancy. If the piece is too badly damaged or missing many components the original integrity of the item could be compromised by the newly manufactured parts needed for the repair.
How do you suggest clients prepare for a this process?
Customers can prepare for getting their item restored by have clear expectations of how they want the restored piece to look. They should also have a budget in mind. With that being said they should be flexible in both their expectations and price it would take to restore the item.
What are some common issues you face when it comes to restoring furniture?
Common issues usually arise when dealing with veneered surfaces. Due to the thin nature of the material it is difficult to strip old finish and stain because you might not have the option to sand the surface thoroughly enough to get rid of the damaged areas. Another problem is finding replacement hardware and fixtures, for the simple reason that many are not manufactured any more.
DIY restorations can also seriously impact the ability of a piece of damaged furniture to be properly repaired. A common problem is non skilled attempts to glue up a joint or damaged area. If done incorrectly the glue can squeeze out and dry!!! if it drys and the join is not tight then the repair is suspect to failure, also it makes it very difficult for a professional to clean out the old glue, which is imperative to re-glue the damaged area appropriately.
What’s the best way for people to get in contact with you?
The best way to contact us for an estimate is to send in some detailed photos to our email address; firstname.lastname@example.org. By including an explanation of the damage and the restoration require and where the item is located in Albuquerque we are able to offer you a range estimate and restoration plan.