How to Refinish Veneer Plywood

What You'll Need
Fine Grit Sandpaper
Paint Brush
Buffing Cloth

Veneer plywood looks like hardwood but it is actually plywood that is coated with a very thin layer of wood. The wood glued to the plywood is usually only about 1/32 of an inch. Because of the very thin composition of wood used in veneer plywood, refinishing it can be quite tricky. Therefore, it should only be refurnished with gloss, stain or paint when necessary. Some old furniture that may have been exposed to moisture may look very dull and indeed require refinishing. Follow the steps below to refinish your veneer plywood effectively.

Step 1 - Prepping the Plywood

Do not attempt to sand the plywood with rough sandpaper as it may damage the wood coating. Although the material needs to be sanded to ensure that the new coating will adhere effectively on its surface, it has to be done with fine grit sandpaper and with extra care. The idea here is to remove the old coating and not the thin veneer itself. Never sand the old coat with a sander as it may destroy the veneer. Sand the surface of the plywood manually. Although this can be quite laborious, it is an important process that will save the veneer from damage.

Step 2 – Choosing a Coating Material

When refinishing veneer plywood, there are many options to choose from. It can be painted, stained, or coated with a gloss. Paint the material only when necessary. However, this will not preserve the veneer because it actually conceals it. Choose to paint only when the veneer is damaged to an extent that refinishing it with gloss or stain is not a good option.  The best choice when refinishing the material is using polyurethane. This material will restore the plywood’s glossy appearance.

Step 3 – Applying the Polyurethane

The main goal of the refinishing project is to form a coat on top of the veneer that will make it look glossy without the formation of any bubbles. Therefore it is important to mix the polyurethane carefully without shaking or stirring rapidly, actions that will create bubbles.

If the furniture has different parts that can be unhinged, then remove the removable parts from the furniture to allow easier application of the gloss. This will also prevent the hinges and other parts of the furniture from being coated with the gloss.

Dip the paint brush in the material and slowly coat the surfaces of the plywood thinly and as uniformly as possible. Do make sure that all surfaces are coated evenly. Allow the first coat to dry.

Since veneer plywood is not a very porous material, a single coat is not sufficient enough to create a professional finish. When the first coat dries, sand the surfaces again with a fine grit sandpaper and wipe the dust clean. Apply a second and even a third coat and allow to them to dry. Buff the plywood with a buffing cloth to make it shine.