How to Fix Cigarette Burns in Wood

If you've got a smoker at home, it’s inevitable that some of your furnishings will be marred by an accidental burn. Getting rid of unsightly cigarette burns is a snap. All you need is nail polish remover, clear nail polish, a cotton swab, and a small knife. Here’s what to do:

  1. Place a little nail polish remover on the swab and rub it into the burn mark until the discoloration disappears.

  2. If you still have a dark residue around the edges, scrape it gently with a small knife until it’s gone.

    You can stop here if it is. If the burn is deeper than you thought and has actually gone into the surface of the furniture, you need to fill it.

  3. Mix 1/4 teaspoon each of nail polisher remover and clear nail polish in a shallow container.

    Use a tuna or cat-food can or a frozen potpie dish. Or make a container with a 2- or 3-inch strip of aluminum foil. Fold it in half. Next fold or roll the edges to create a shallow depression in the center. When you finish the repairs, just throw it out.

  4. Test the mixture on a finished underside of the piece.

    Nail polish will curdle some lacquer or enamel finishes, making them rough or milky, especially old varnished pieces. If that happens, use polyurethane instead.

    If you have polyurethane in the house, you can substitute it for nail polish to fill burns on any wood furniture. Apply it with a small brush or put a drop on your finger and transfer it to the hole. You can also use medical syringes to add drops of polyurethane. They’re also great for getting glue into tight spaces.

  5. Apply coats of the mixture with a nail polish brush one at a time to the damaged area.

    Let each coat dry before applying another layer. You may have to repeat this step eight or ten times before you’ve filled in the hole.

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