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Restoration terminology

Conservation: Detail-oriented process designed to preserve as much original finish and materials as possible while bringing the piece back to as close to its original condition as possible.


Finish restoration: Finish restoration is the process of bringing an existing finish back to life. This involves re-emulsifying the original finish, either shellac or varnish. By using the original solvents to liquefy the solids, their ability to adhere to and penetrate the piece returns. The process also removes the dirt and grime accumulated over years of use. If the finish is very thin, additional layers of the same finish may be applied to bolster the restored finish and ensure longevity. Finish restoration results in an original finish rating: for example, 85% of the original finish remains. The more original finish that remains, the more antique value remains.


Preservation: The process of stopping or slowing deterioration usually does not involve actual restoration or attempts to return the piece to its original condition. Damage and finish deterioration are left intact, but prevented from going further. This process is usually done on museum works; we recommend a conservation or restoration process for home use of antiques. In most cases this is a chemical process that prevents further oxidation of the wood and metals, and in addition adds moister to the existing finish.


Refinishing: Removing a finish and applying a new finish in its place. This process destroys significant portions of antique value in furniture and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.


Repair: Physical structural replacement or reinforcement of parts of the original piece. May involve addition of new materials altered to appear aged or the application of antique materials to improve appearance of repair and preserve as much value as possible.

Restoration: Bringing a piece back to close to its original condition including structural and finish repairs.


Stripping: stripping involves dipping the piece in a chemical bath that will remove finish, patina, and in some cases the glue holding the piece together.




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