Got chipped wood veneer furniture on your hands? 3 easy ways to restore it to its former glory

This is the expert guide to repairing chipped wood veneer furniture

Pietro lamp
(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Wood veneer is a good-looking yet more affordable alternative to solid wood. And while it looks lovely with its polished, elegant finish, the material does have a tendency to chip sometimes, especially if not cared for properly, or if the furniture is being moved or it is quite old. As wood veneer is part of many mid-century modern living room ideas. So knowing how to repair chipped wood veneer furniture can certainly come in handy.

But as it turns out it’s quite an easy DIY project. Which is a melody to this writer’s ears as I am currently sitting on a desk chair with little chips along the edges. It is a sleek, second-hand bargain, which came in a slightly worse state than initially anticipated. 

But we move. So let’s grab our tools (once we find out what they are) and get to fixing our wood veneer furniture to make it look like new. All with the help of our experts and their DIY ideas and tips. 

How to repair chipped wood veneer furniture

Blue-painted dining room with mid-century modern furniture

(Image credit: Future PLC/Georgia Burns)

‘Wooden furniture with veneer surfaces can add a touch of elegance to any room, but over time, veneer can chip or become damaged,’ Malik Ahmed, DIY expert and director of Bolt World. ‘Thankfully, repairing chipped veneer is a manageable DIY project that can restore the beauty of your furniture.’ Well, that’s a relief.

But Charlie English, marketing director at Woods Furniture, adds that if the damage done is quite large, then it might be beyond your powers to rescue the piece. ‘Chipping in wooden veneer furniture can occur and while usually quite tough to repair due to surface texture or grain being hard to imitate, small, discreet chips can be fixed.’

So if your chips are not too sizeable, then follow one of the 3 methods below, whichever suits your situation best.

An antique dresser next to a window with heavy curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tattersall Love)

1. Glue and clamp

‘Begin by assessing the extent of the damage. If the chipped piece is still available, proceed with this method,’ Malik says.

What you’ll need

This method is very simple, it’s upcycling for beginners really. Start by cleaning the chipped area to remove any dirt or debris. Then apply wood glue to the back of the chipped piece of veneer. Then put it back in its place and use either clamps or heavy objects to hold it in place. When the glue dries off, use a damp cloth to get rid of any excess.

Pietro lamp

(Image credit: Pooky)

2. Wood filler

This method that I’ll certainly be having a go at as my chips, despite being plentiful, are on the smaller side.

What you’ll need

‘Firstly, for the best results I would recommend prepping the damaged area by sanding with a 220-grit sandpaper which is nice and fine,’ Charlie says. ‘This step will remove any splinters and help to make the wood filler stick well.’

Rhiannon Moore at Toolstation continues, ‘Cover the exposed area with an even layer of wood filler using a pointing trowel or similar to evenly spread it.’

‘Build on this until the filler is slightly raised from the rest of the surface,’ Charlie adds. ‘Note that most fillers dry hard very quickly so you only have about five minutes to work with it before it hardens.’

A hallway with a console table and golden statement mirror

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Then after about 30 minutes, it’s time to sand the layer down so that it’s smooth and even with the rest of the veneer. Finally, to match with the surrounding area, you will need to use a stain. 

‘It’s important to use a gel stain instead of a regular wood stain, this is because gel stain is thicker and formulated to sit on top of existing surfaces rather than soak into the wood. Be as precise as possible and try different techniques to imitate your overall wooden veneer surface,’ Charlie advises.

You might need to apply two coats to get the desired colour.

3. Veneer patch

A mid-century modern cabinet with colourful ornaments atop

(Image credit: Future PLC/Claire Lloyd Davies)

This is the most complex of the methods and suitable for slightly bigger chips. It’s also a more advanced upcycled furniture idea as you’re replacing the previous piece of veneer with a brand new one.

What you’ll need

A hallway with a display cabinet and bold wallpaper

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Start by cutting the area around your chip to an angular shape so that it is easier to fill with the patch. Then cut your new veneer into a matching shape. Apply wood glue to the back of the veneer patch. And the rest of the process is exactly the same as the first method.

‘Finish and stain the repaired area to match the rest of the furniture. Apply the finish evenly with a paintbrush or sponge,’ Malik says.

Can wood veneer be repaired?

Damaged veneer can certainly be saved and repaired. But whether you can do it yourself or should seek out a professional depends on the extent of the damage inflicted upon the piece of furniture. Small chips, as discussed in this piece, can be quite easily fixed by yourself with a little DIY knowledge.

How do you repair lifting wood veneer?

If your veneer is lifting rather than being chipped, then the best way forward is to glue it back on with wood glue.

'Use a blade to lift up the peeling veneer but not high enough to break it further or cause more peeling,' Rhiannon says. 'Generously apply an even layer of quality wood glue to the underside of the veneer. Use a toothpick to spread it across the entire surface.'

'Press the veneer firmly back down using your fingers. Wipe away the excess glue that comes out from the sides. Clamp down with some weight and then leave the glue to dry.'

This has restored some hope at least in me regarding my chipped office chair. I’ll keep you posted on how the project goes.

Sara Hesikova
News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home and interiors. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors. She feels the two are intrinsically connected - if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.