What is French Polishing?
French polishing is a traditional wood finishing technique commonly used on antique furniture but can also be applied to more modern furniture. French polish is not a specific material but rather the effect of applying shellac to a wood surface that produces a tough surface with a very glossy, mirror-like finish. Shellac helps protect the wood and extend the life of your wooden furniture. French polishing dates back as far as the Victorian era but was brushed aside early in the 20th century in favor of less labor-intensive methods such as varnishing. However, this "lost art" produces a luster that is next to impossible to duplicate with mass-production methods. French polish finishes are also very easy to repair.
Do I replace my wooden furniture or get a French polish?
In most cases wooden furniture can be very expensive to replace, the most cost-effective way can be to get your wooden furniture French polished as it can be cheaper than buying new furniture.
How long will it take?
French polishing is not a quick process. Before any piece of furniture or wood surface is polished it must be prepared. Preparation of the surface for French polishing is extremely important as any slight imperfections which might not be noticeable under varnish or oil finishes would be apparent under French Polish. It is essential, therefore, that the surface is clean and finely sanded.
It is at this point if there are any minor repairs to the wood that needs doing, we would do this before polishing.
Polishing itself requires the application of numerous layers of shellac, which require to dry between applications. The more layers of shellac required, the longer the drying period. It is important to make sure each layer dries properly between layers to achieve a perfect and strong finish.
How much will it cost?
It is extremely difficult to give a set price for French polishing as much depends on the condition, size, and type of furniture being polished i.e. if it requires repairs, if it is a very large piece of furniture or has intricate carving, etc. We can give a rough estimate of cost based on what we can see, however, we never know what we might find as we begin to strip back and prepare furniture. In the event where we think a job will cost more, we will always inform our customers before continuing.
Are there alternatives to French polishing?
Yes, there are alternatives. Waxing can be a very effective way to lift and brighten old furniture and may be an option for heavily used pieces of furniture. We can also stain and varnish furniture, however, this does not give the same quality finish as polish but may be more suitable for some modern furniture pieces.