Preserving the original wood finish while restoring an antique can mean preserving the authenticity and value of an "original". Conversely, stripping the existing wood finish can mean making it less antique, and can literally translate into stripping the value of the piece. The problem that remains: how can you eliminate blemishes in wood finishes and restore the original color and luster without removing any of the existing finish?
In 1969, Douglas G. Howard set out to solve this dilemma. Unable to find an answer at his local hardware store, he went to work in his garage to create his own product.
His goal was to make a product that would be much more than a surface treatment, yet nothing like a stripper or a refinisher. The key was to develop a formula that could restore the surface, penetrate the finish with stain, and evaporate before the finish was removable. The end result was Restor-A-Finish, Howard's first in an entire line of wood care products.
For over 40 years, Howard's Restor-A-Finish has been a standard in the antique industry.
Almost any existing wood tone, from Birdseye Maple to Jacobean, can be closely matched using one of (or a combination of) the nine available finish colors. The nine colors are Neutral, Maple-Pine, Golden Oak, Walnut, Cherry, Mahogany, Dark Walnut, Dark Oak, and Ebony Brown.
It is the stain in Restor-A-Finish, combined with its unique ability to penetrate without removing any of the existing finish, that enables anyone to easily and permanently eliminate blemishes in wood finishes. Scratches, oxidation, white heat rings, water marks, smoke damage, sun fade, etc., quickly disappear. Kitchen cabinets can be successfully restored in hours instead of days. An old garage sale piece can be transformed into attractive furniture in just minutes.
Technically speaking, Restor-A-Finish amalgamates with the finish just enough to allow the stain in the product to pass through the finish surface. The solvents evaporate before any of the existing finish is removed, restoring the original color and luster while blending out the blemishes and minor scratches.
A stripper is designed to dissolve and remove the entire wood finish, including the stain. A "refinisher" product (sometimes confused with, but nothing like Restor-A-Finish) basically removes just the top finish. In either case, a new finish, or typically tung oil, needs to be applied.
The Restor-A-Finish concept is to permanently revive and restore the original color and luster in one step, without removing any of the existing finish. Most wood finishes that seem to need a complete refinishing job can be completely restored in a few minutes with this simple wipe-on, wipe-off process.
With so many years of success in the antique industry, Howard's Restor-A-Finish has passed the test of even the most scrutinizing of wood care experts.