The DIY Guide to Antique Trunk Restoration: 5 Steps Uncover The Hidden Charm of Your Old Trunk


The DIY Guide to Antique Trunk Restoration: 5 Steps Uncover The Hidden Charm of Your Old Trunk

Vintage trunks are often passed down from generation to generation, and with good reason – they’re beautiful, durable, and full of character. However, years of wear and tear can take their toll on even the sturdiest trunk. 

But fear not! You can restore your antique trunk to its former glory with a little elbow grease and some DIY skills. In this guide, we will take you through the step-by-step process of antique trunk restoration.


If you’ve got an old trunk tucked away in your attic or basement, it’s likely been collecting dust for years. It’s a piece of history — a relic of the past that whispers tales of bygone eras. But it’s seen better days, and you’re not quite sure what to do with it. 

You could hire a professional refinisher, but where’s the fun in that? Not to mention the hefty price tag. So let’s dive into DIY trunk restoration!

Step 1: Prep Your Antique Trunk

Before you start any restoration work, you need to clean and prep your trunk. Remove any dirt and debris with a soft-bristled brush and water. if it’s stubborn use the garden hose and some dish soap/water and scrub away. 

Before you use some miracle cleaner that caught your eye at the hardware store, test any cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the trunk. Once your trunk is clean, dry it thoroughly with a clean, soft cloth.

Step 2: Repair Any Damage

If your vintage trunk has any damage — such as broken hinges or missing handles — you’ll need to repair these before you can restore the trunk. 

You can find replacement parts, tools and hardware right here at Brettuns Village! Be sure to match the original hardware as closely as possible to maintain the trunk’s historical accuracy.

Step 3: Sand Your Antique Trunk

To restore your antique trunk’s finish, you’ll need to sand it down the outer slats to remove any old paint, varnish, or stain. Start with a coarse-grit sandpaper and work your way up to a finer grit. 

Be sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid leaving scratches. Once the trunk is smooth and even, wipe it down with a clean, damp cloth to remove any dust.

Step 4: Stain or Paint Your Antique Trunk

Now that your vintage trunk is prepped and repaired, it’s time to give it a new finish. You can stain the wood to bring out its natural color or paint it to give it a new look. 

If painting, use a paintbrush and a high-quality paint designed for wood. For staining, use a soft cloth or brush to apply the stain in long, even strokes. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

Step 5: Seal Your Antique Trunk

To protect your antique trunk’s new finish, you may choose to seal it with a clear coat. In our shop we’ve had the best luck with tung oil – seems to remain breathable and this means new cracks don’t appear in the finish coat.

Apply a thin, even coat with a clean brush, and allow it to dry completely before adding additional coats.

Restoring an antique trunk can be a time-consuming process, but the result is well worth the effort. Your old trunk will have a new lease on life and be a stunning piece in your home. With a little DIY know-how and some elbow grease, you can uncover the hidden charm of your old trunk and preserve it for future generations to enjoy. 

So, what are you waiting for? Get started on your antique trunk restoration project today! And don’t forget to shop our collection of trunk parts, tools, and hardware! At Brettuns Village, we’re not just committed to meeting the highest standards of craftsmanship – we’re here to help you through the process.