I have two pieces of maple furniture, a desk with a large water stain, and a kitchen table with minor scratches an exposed wood. My problem is my wife loves the finishes on these pieces of furniture, so ideally what ever finish I use will match what is already there.

Does anyone have any suggestions for insuring the new finish you are apply matches the character of the piece as is?

Both pieces of furniture are manufactured by Room & Board and where bought second hand. Based on similar looking pieces of furniture on the R & B website, the finish is "lacquer". I would describe the desk as having a more "natural look" with a very light gloss, not so much as painted on the surface, but soaked in. I would describe the table as having a bit more gloss, a more painted on the surface feel, but still a "natural look". Both pieces seem easy to damage (scratch, water stain, etc...), but the desk is particularly bad. (Note: This is not something I am looking to chance I am just reporting this for description services.)

Below are some pictures. Thanks! table desk table up close

2 Answers 2


The water stain on the desk looks like it could be blush in the lacquer itself rather than damage to the wood. Blushing is caused by moisture trapped in the finish. There are a number of ways to address it, but the goal is always to allow the moisture to escape. Some ideas I've read about in the past:

  • mild abrasive: Rubbing the affected area with toothpaste or other mild abrasive can remove just enough of the surface of the finish to allow trapped moisture to escape.

  • heat: Careful application of heat from a heat gun can drive out moisture.

  • oil: Rubbing with mineral oil or even (sounds crazy) mayonnaise is supposed to let oil seep in and displace trapped water. (I'd go with mineral oil over mayo.)

  • solvent: Like the abrasive, the idea is to remove just enough of the surface to let the moisture out.

  • more lacquer: A fresh coat of lacquer will include some solvent, so probably works like the solvent option above.

So, for the desk I'd try some of the options above on a small area starting with the lowest impact (heat, mild abrasive).

It's hard to see any real damage to the table in the photo, but it does look like the table has a clear finish rather than something with color. Lacquer finishes have a hard resin component dissolved in some solvent. They're easier to repair than finishes that cure (like epoxy or boiled linseed oil) because the solvent in the new layer partially dissolves the resin in the old layer, allowing the two layers to merge into one. To repair the table, I'd pick up a spray can of clear lacquer finish that has about the right sheen (matte, semigloss, etc.). Test on a hidden area first to make sure the new stuff is compatible with the old, of course. Spray the affected areas, let dry, and use steel wool or very fine sandpaper to adjust the sheen so that the repaired areas blend with the rest.


My guess, is that using a clear finish should leave it pretty close to what you are looking for. Pick one that has a good hard finish and put several coats on to make it thicker and stronger to reduce scratches.

Maple tends to yellow into a nice honey color especially in sunlight, so after sanding it down it might look more white than what you currently see. Your choices are to get a finish with a light honey/yellow stain in it to put it back or just let nature takes it's course. If you get the finish with a stain, each coat will make it darker, so you might also want a clear finish to use once it has reached your desired color (I probably wouldn't go more than 1 coat if you go the stain route).

You can also sand a place on the bottom of the table to do 'practice' tests on to get the look 'right'.

As far as the 'shiny' look you can pick different finishes, matte, satin, gloss, high gloss. My first guess would be it is either gloss or high gloss currently on the table top.

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