Work performed by Norths can be categorized as follows:

A. Clear finish starting with new construction

B. Clear finish starting with existing finish

C. Painted finish starting with new construction

D. Painted finish starting with existing finish

E. Structural repair and/or alterations

F. Touch up and/or restoration of existing finish

More Information

Pre-Finishing Considerations

On-Site Work

Caring For Your Furniture

Clear finishes discussed in Sections A and B include the following:

Stain & glaze, clear lacquer, etc. (any finish which allows the wood to show through). These finishes, especially lighter ones, are to a large extent, at the mercy of the given characteristics of the wood, i.e., graining, patterning, knotholes, mineral streaks, etc. A finish should be chosen which compliments the characteristics of the piece to which it is applied. As a rule, it is more difficult to make a dark piece lighter than it is to make a light piece darker.


A. Clear finish starting with new construction (wood) Top of Page

The amount of prep work required on these surfaces will depend upon the condition in which they were received (balanced against the requirements of the final finish). Typically they should be free of waves, machine marks, nail holes, deep scratches, glue, etc. and should be in sound structural condition.

B. Clear finish starting with existing finish Top of Page

When planning a clear wood finish on a piece which is currently painted, stripping a small test area will give some indication as to the feasibility of this process. However, it must be kept in mind that drastic variations may occur from area to area and a commitment as to the type of finish which can be applied cannot be made until the piece has been stripped and viewed in its entirety.

Painted finishes discussed in Sections C and D include
solid colors, paint & glaze, faux bois, textured, old looks, crackle, and
artistic finishes(any opaque finish).

C. Painted finish starting with new construction (wood, formica, MDF, etc.) Top of Page

The amount of prep work required on these surfaces will depend upon the condition in which they were received (balanced against the requirements of the final finish). Typically they should be free of waves, machine marks, nail holes, deep scratches, glue, etc. and should be in sound structural condition.

D. Painted finish starting with existing finish Top of Page

The first consideration here is whether or not to strip off the old finish. When a painted finish is desired and the existing finish is in reasonable condition, it is accepted procedure to use such as a foundation for a new finish after performing the proper prep steps. If the finish is failing, as is evident from craze marks and lack of adhesion, then stripping is recommended.

E. Structural repair and/or alterations Top of Page

Before a piece can be finished, it must be in sound structural condition, i.e., no loose joints, loose veneer, etc. Any repairs and/or alterations should be performed by either cabinetmaker or Norths prior to finishing.

F. Touch up and/or restoration of existing finish Top of Page

Norths is experienced in repairing damage from usage or accidents. Oftentimes it is feasible to restore the beauty of an original finish rather than stripping and refinishing it. This is especially true with regard to antiques, which may actually be devalued by refinishing. For additional information, please refer to Norths Touch Up Request Form.

Pre-Finishing Considerations
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Any surface which needs to be protected from the finishing process should either be removed or masked off at your direction. Although not impossible, taping and refinishing without planning replacement of existing fabric is not recommended. In the case of door hinges, if these can be left on, this saves labor costs. Generally knobs and pulls are removed and replaced with new, left as is, or refurbished in some manner, again at your direction.

In the case of wall units or any pieces needing to be assembled on site, supplying Norths with a sketch or diagram identifying their placement in relation to one another will allow us to finish the pieces in such a way that the color and pattern will blend in when assembled.

When having case pieces built, designing them so that backs can be easily removed during finish operation will result in improved quality on interior surfaces.


Stripping is generally a wise choice when quality is the primary concern; however, budget restraints often make the process impractical. There is the obvious advantage of being completely sure of the reliability of the foundation finish. There are also disadvantages. Stripper may dissolve the glue used to bond wood together, especially veneers. To minimize this disadvantage, Norths offers only hand stripping. Even so, stripping is an unpredictable process and the results cannot be known until the stripping is completed. The piece may need to be stripped several times, depending on how many coats of finish need to be removed; and at times it is impossible to remove all the old finish on stained pieces. Also, the wood may not be consistent all over. It may have been painted to cover problems. The stripping process may not make dark wood turn light.

Removing paint and going to a true clear finish at times can be most difficult. The wood must be perfectly clean before staining. Often small spots of paint only show up after applying the clear finish.

Color and Technique

For best results in color matching, many clients bring us not only a paint chip but also samples of carpet, fabric, wallpaper, etc. and request that we use our expertise in producing a color which blends in harmoniously with their total design scheme.

Our color matching is subject to the following limitations:

We have specifically chosen a limited number of pigments for their desirable qualities (i.e. workability, coverage, consistency, and permanence). These are adequate for most typical finishes, but do not reproduce certain colors such as those used in novelty type applications where permanence and stability are not restraining factors.

Variations in color and technique must be expected and planned for in any good design scheme. Many variations are beyond control. Paint and pigments vary in color from batch to batch. Slight variations may occur because of humidity variations at time of application, the number and thickness of the finish film, the number of clear coats, time (all colors fade with time, especially in abundant sunlight), etc. Also when a color is top-coated with a clear coat (as in glazed finishes) it is virtually impossible to reproduce a color exactly. Such differences generally pose no problem since a good design scheme allows for such subtle variations and even after fading with time still continues to exist in harmony.

Difficulty in matching pieces may arise when using high contrast techniques wherein a small change in the application of coloring agents produces large visual changes. For example: White base pounced with a black glaze looks striking because of high contrast; however, in selecting this combination, there is added difficulty and expense which arise in trying to match table leaves. Also modular wall units would have to be assembled before glazing, thus insuring uniformity when installed.

Trying to match one piece of furniture to another in an attempt to make them appear as a set is generally not recommended. Unless exactly the same pigments are used in both finishes, the best of matches will appear different when viewed at different angles, when viewed under different lighting - daylight, incandescent, fluorescent, etc. For example, two finishes may seem an acceptable match in daylight but be completely unacceptable at night under lamp light. Also, with time the two finishes may fade differently, which means that the new excellent match, with age, could result in unacceptable difference; therefore, large amounts of labor would result in high prices for unsatisfactory results. If an exact match is desired, it is recommended that in the interest of both cost and results, all pieces be refinished with the same top coats. If there is need for a strike-off, please refer to Norths' Strike-off Request Form.

Overtone Color Treatments

Overtone color treatments impart extra dimension to finished surfaces and add richness and interest. This process integrates the distribution and superimposing of color in a controlled manner. These techniques encompass glazing, dry-brushing, toning, shading, padding, spattering, antiquing, distressing, and embellishments such as striping, all of which should be carried out with artistic skill and good judgment.

On-Site Work
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If it is decided that performing the job onsite is the best solution, a few things must be considered. Onsite rates are set at $100 per hour per finisher and $100 per hour per helper. Onsite work can be divided into two categories, touch-up and refinishing.


Touch-up typically calls for one finisher and small amount of set up time. Touch-ups consist of fixing nicks, dings, loose veneer, etc. from moving damage, wear & tear, and so on. Any color mixing done on the job will be billed at the hourly rate.


Refinishing typically calls for one finisher and at least one helper. Set up for refinishing is a bit more involved than setting up for touch-up. Most onsite finishing is built-in cabinet work. All removable items must be removed from the cabinet before finishing. The area around the cabinet must be protected from the finish being applied (i.e. walls, floor, ceiling, etc.). Doors are removed and taken to our shop for refinishing, then brought onsite to match cabinets into. If the cabinets are finished before the doors, we cannot guarantee the colors will blend properly. For brush finishes, that is generally the amount of set up required. Spray finishes, however require a bit more set up. Lacquer dries non-toxic, but the fumes from spraying lacquer are both toxic and flammable. Before spraying, the floor is protected, and plastic walls are built to contain the fumes & dust and vent them out a door or window.


Our methods of refinishing keep messes to a minimum and we clean up after ourselves. Our initial masking and prep work are some of the best in the business. Although, additional cleaning may be desired, but due to onsite rates, it would be more cost-effective to hire a cleaning service to do so.


Caring For Your Furniture
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Nearly all our finishes are catalyzed, meaning they can resist a reasonable amount of water. Many customers ask what product to use when cleaning their furniture or cabinets. For all our lacquer finishes, we recommend Murphy's Oil Soap & water. To polish furniture, we recommend Orange Glow furniture polish. Since our finishes are catalyzed, there is no need to use a wax product on them. It is best to stay away from any product that contains silicone as an ingredient.

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