How Much Does It Cost To Refinish A Desk? Follow This Cheap Method

It only costs $86.99 to refinish a desk with no help. A professional can charge between $40 and $60 per hour to refinish the desk. You can do it on your own with the Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations. It takes 2-4 days to refinish an old desk with or without a hatch.

Why refinish a desk in the first place?

A desk refinish can be necessary with older desks. A fresh coat of paint or a new lacquer application can make it look as new once more. Of course, a desk refinish is not going to be made on new desks and this is why the job will take a few days to complete, mostly dedicated to the preparation process.

A fresh desk look can offer a better working space in the office or at home. Desk refinishing is also a good relaxation method and it sometimes offers a well-deserved break for those who’ve been sitting and working for too long.

How much money should you put aside for the desk refinish?

Standorsit always recommends two alternatives of any task or purchase, depending on budgets and the level of involvement. Purchasing all refinish tools and accessories separately is the old-school way of planning a desk refinish. The items can include the following.

  • A respiratory mask
  • Gloves
  • A heat gun
  • A sold scraper
  • A power sander with sandpaper
  • Wood filler
  • A primer for paint adherence
  • Masking tape
  • A paint roller, brush or spray
  • Paint
  • Paint additive to remove brush and roller marks
  • Topcoat

Another method is to use a kit which already includes most of these products and which saves valuable time and money. One popular kit is the Rust-Oleum Furniture Transformations. It is available in multiple colors which can cover 35 sq feet.

How to prepare the old desk for refinishing

Before starting to paint over a desk, you first must break it down, piece by piece. The desktop should come off first if there’s no hatch on top of it. The remaining shelves or cabinets need to be broken down as well.

Break down the desk and its accessories

The entire desk needs to be broken down for the elements to be painted properly. All screws or nails need to be removed at this stage as well.

Desk refinish step-by-step

Here’s what you’ll need to do to refinish a desk. Take into account that these steps are based on using the Rustoleum Furniture Transformation Kit.

  1. Sand the desk

There are multiple methods of applying paint or lacquer. The Rustoleum kit does not necessarily need users to sand the desk. However, old desks might be in bad shape. Paint chips can only be evened out with a quick sanding. 48 pieces of sandpaper cost around $5. Those using a sander are expected to pay between $10 and $20 for a fresh kit of sandpaper.

  1. Apply the deglosser

Once you open the Rustoleum Restoration kit you can reach for the deglosser and the green scrub. Wipe down all the wooden desk panels of any dust and apply the deglosser with the green scrub. Take your time with the process as the deglosser will remove old dirt or even old oil marks.

The deglosser is not left to dry on the desk. You must use a clean wet rag or towel to wipe the deglosser off the desk. This process can be repeated as often as needed until that desk is starting to look properly clean.

  1. Apply the bond coat

The bond coat is thin and it can be applied with a brush. You’ll find in the Restoleum kit. Take your time but this step will be the shortest of them all as the bond coat is fast to apply.

  1. Apply the decorative glaze for a vintage look

Those looking for a vintage look can now apply the decorative glaze in the kit. This is not mandatory. In fact, it is only recommended for those looking for a distressed look. Those looking for a solid color desk results can skip this step altogether.

  1. Apply the protective topcoat

The topcoat can be found inside the kit as well. It comes with a new brush and you can apply it to give your desk that much-needed final look upgrade.

There are a few tips to apply for a successful desk refinish when applying the topcoat. All debris and all impurities need to be removed from the desk panels at this stage as the coat will only stick them to the surface of the wood. Another good tip is to paint with the brush in the direction of the grain of the wood. This way, the topcoat will look more natural.

Total cost of the desk refinish $86.99 + $5 = $92

As an alternative, let’s see how much does it cost to refinish a desk when all of the restoration items are purchased separately.

Product Price
Sand paper $5
Krud Kutter Gloss-Off deglosser $19.99
Crystal Clear Bond Coat $30
GF Glaze Decorative Glaze $19
Minwax Protective Coat Finish top coat $18
Wooster softip paintbrush X 4 $17
Total $109
Savings with Rust-Oleum Furniture Transformations $22


What to do with the leftover refinish kit?

Most likely, you’ll end up with a lot of extra materials as they won’t be used entirely on the desk. They will dry in a matter of days once their containers are open. Here are a few small wooden elements in the house you can consider refinishing with the remaining material.

  • Chairs
  • Tables
  • Nightstands
  • Wooden shelves
  • Wooden doors
  • Sleighs

All of these items can be refinished with the leftover materials from the kit. The same steps apply and for the most impactful results, it is recommended to strip the furniture down so that each wooden element can be painted individually.


How much does it cost to refinish a desk? It should not be more than $86.99 if you do it on your own. The cost can easily quadruple when a professional is hired.

A few unforeseen costs can involve changing any old screws, purchasing wiping cloths or extra masking tape. However, most people can do this with no help. You simply need to follow the instructions of the kit to do this stress-free. A top tip is to allow the materials to dry completely before moving on to the next step. Properly dusting the surface after each step is also recommended for professional-looking results.


How much does it cost to distress furniture or a desk?

When hiring a contractor, the charge will be up to $60 per hour. A few hours are needed to distress even the most basic desk.

How much does it cost to refinish kitchen cabinets?

Kitchen cabinets are larger and they can cost at least $1.000 to refinish by a professional. The workload can be sufficient to keep them busy for an entire week. Those who want to save money should do this themselves, similar to how the desk above has been refinished with a kit.

Is my desk worth refinishing?

All desks are worth refinishing. The older the desk, the more history it has. Even if it’s not going to be used for much longer, it can benefit from a refinish and it can then be sold for a profit.

Where can I refinish my desk?

It is best to do a refinish job outside. Since the deglosser and the coats are made from chemicals, you need to be out in fresh air for the job.

I have a standing desk, can I refinish it alone?

A standing desk can be refinished as well. Many standing desks come with a wooden desktop which can be refinished as well. Here are the steps to follow.

  • Remove the desktop from the metal legs
  • Remove the motor and cables from the desktop
  • Sand the desktop with sandpaper
  • Apply deglosser
  • Apply the bond coat
  • Apply the top coat
  • Clean and spray paint the metal legs

Have you refinished your desk? Which products did you use? Did it take long for the desk to look as new again? Let us know in the comment section below.

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