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  • Chelsea J Marshall

How do the Amish finish furniture?

One of the best things about our Amish-crafted furniture is the customer’s ability to customize the finish on any style they choose. Our starting point is typically the wood species preferred by the customer. American hardwoods like oak, maple, cherry, and walnut each have their own unique and distinctive grain patterns.

After selecting a wood species, the next step is to select a stain color. Many people mistakenly believe that oak is always a light color, cherry is a rich dark red, and maple is dark brown. In fact, most types of hardwoods can be stained in a variety of colors from light to dark, including reds, browns, and grays. We currently offer over 20 stain colors on most of the species our builders offer.

Furniture is hand-sanded for an ultra-smooth finish

Perhaps the most important step in the finishing process is the clear topcoat added after staining. There’s a lot of different topcoats on the market, each with their own unique properties, including pros and cons. Our Amish finish shops all use catalyzed conversion varnish for an ultra-durable top coat. This is a special kind of varnish that requires a hardening agent to be mixed in at the time of application. Unlike other types of lacquer, conversion varnish must be sprayed in a professional finish shop. Faulty application can cause problems including color shifting, a cracked finish, or a lingering sulfur odor.

When professionally applied, conversion varnish is your best bet for durability and appearance. It is one of the hardest clear coats available for wood furniture, and provides some protection against water rings and chemical damage. The hardness of conversion varnish also means a smooth, polished-looking surface that’s easier to clean and never has a sticky or tacky feel.

Conversion Varnish is sprayed by a skilled craftsman

However, this does not mean that conversion varnish will be indestructible or bulletproof. A few years ago, one of our customers called to complain about scratches on her dining table top that was less than a year old. Upon investigating, we found out that she and her young son would often slide a bowl of snacks across the table to one another. Unfortunately, such wear and tear would be expected and would not be covered by our warranty as a manufacturer defect.

The Amish choose catalyzed conversion varnish because it consistently produces the best results. Stop by our showroom in the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills to see the difference.


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