Thanks to all those who voted to help me decide what my Labor Day weekend project was going to be! In the end both the majority voters and myself decided that refinishing the Broyhill Brasilia headboard that I had scored for a mere $10 about a year ago was the project to tackle on my 3 day weekend.

I was a little nervous to start this project. I wanted to restore the headboard to its former glory, but I also had my doubts about how well the wood would absorb stain. (A friend of mine tried to refinish a 1960’s wood end table and she tried and tried to get it to accept the stain, but in the end it just wouldn’t so she ended up having to paint it.) I was fully prepared to paint the headboard if I couldn’t get it take stain evenly or at all.

First let’s remind ourselves what the headboard looked like when I got it:

From a distance it didn’t look too bad

…until you see the flaky finish. Something had to be done!

Holy sandpaper! It took me about 4 hours to hand sand the old finish off with 80 grit sandpaper and then smooth the wood down with a 220 grit sandpaper. (Remember always sand with the grain of the wood!)

And there it is, a Broyhill Brasilia headboard naked as the day it was built! You don’t get to see that very often…

It was really hard to sand all the finish off of the arched part of the headboard. Since I was going to try and restore it with a similar stain (or paint it if the staining attempt went south) I decided not to stress about removing every last bit of finish.

Take one last look…this guy is about to get covered up…

We are going to have a BBQ this weekend Leo, but I have to finish this project first! That dog is so impatient sometimes!

Anyway, back to the project. I did a lot of contemplating about what stain color to use, but finally decided to go for this:

Minwax oil based Red Oak stain and Minwax Clear Satin Polyurethane to top coat the stain. I chose the Red Oak stain color because it was very similar to Walnut, but the red in the stain gave it a little more of a warm glow, which I figured this headboard could use after feeling kinda flaky for the last I don’t know how many years. I chose the Clear Satin finish because the original finish on a Broyhill Brasilia piece is not very glossy and I wanted to keep it as true to the original as possible.

Before getting started on the staining, I applied a coat of Minwax Pre-stain Wood Conditioner. If you remember, I also used this on the Record Cabinet.

I let that soak in for 5-10 minutes and then it was time for the moment of truth.

How would the wood take the stain?

Look, there I am brushing it on! My adorable husband Jim decided to try his hand at taking some action photos with my new camera…

And there’s that impatient dog of mine again…

I let the stain soak in for about 15 min and then wiped off the excess with a rag. The arched areas and the bottom horizontal piece of the headboard took the stain really well. The two sides and the top piece didn’t take the stain as well, so with my fingers crossed, I applied a second coat to those areas only. After 15 more minutes, I wiped off the excesss:

Not too shabby if you ask me! Phew! No paint needed!

I let the stain dry overnight and then applied the clear satin poly as a top coat. The results are astounding!

Looks much better to me!

Now that it is more presentable, the headboard has moved from its location in the garage to the guest bedroom. Now all I need to do is finish decorating this room!

The headboard looks great with the bedspread and chair that I already have in the room…

So there you have it! A very productive Labor Day weekend!

…but that’s not all folks. Tune in again next time to see what other project I also decided to tackle this weekend! (They don’t call it Labor Day for nothing!)



  1. Nice Job. That whole sand, strip, stain thing looks like a lot of work. I’ve got the same headboard out in the Garage waiting for a refinish. I’m going to try the Minwax finish restorer and then maybe darken it up with a quick stain. The thing about the Brazilia is that it wasn’t stained from the factory but tinted (or so I’ve heard). I guess that made it easier to strip, huh.

    • Hi Mr. Modtomic,

      It was a lot of work! I had previously tried some finish restorer (right after I picked it up a year ago) but it just didn’t do anything. It would make sense that Brasilia is factory “tinted” instead of stained, the finish just flaked off most of the headboard. Good luck with your headboard! Hopefully you can avoid all the work I had to do, but either way, I am really happy with how mine turned out! AND It is DONE! YAY!

  2. Woohoo it looks awesome! Can’t wait to see the guest bedroom all completed – from the little sneak peek it looks really cute!

  3. Looks great! You are putting us all to shame 🙂 All I got done was putting together a toddler bed, and that took me 2 hours, mainly because I had a mini-helper! Miles likes the pictures of leo, hehe

    • Thanks Nicole!

      I think I can get so much done because I don’t have any little helpers yet (unless you count Leo, but I can let him run around in the yard while I work). I’m glad Miles is a fan of Leo! Most kids in our neighborhood that see him point and then wave and say “hi doggy!” and then Leo gets all waggy and excited, which is beyond cute. 🙂

  4. Wow! Kudos Kate! That’s got to feel good having that accomplished and looking so beautiful! I LOVE that chair you have in the guest room. My husband and I laughed so hard about POOR Leo, I hope he finally got his BBQ! Can’t wait to see what else you have conquered this past weekend!

    • Thanks Becky!

      I actually have two chairs like the one in the guest room. They are almost identical except one has a higher back and one a lower back. The other one is in my master bedroom. 🙂

      Don’t worry, Leo did get his BBQ. I grilled hamburgers and Leo got his own burger. 🙂 He does have a one track mind sometimes!

  5. Hello! Just happened across your wonderful blog -via retrorenovation! Love your gorgeous ranch – I’m in my 50s – and grew up in various ‘ranches’ in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Arizona! I share a space at an ‘Antique Mall” here in Tucson – and just scored a wonderful Broyhill “Brasilian” dining table and chairs! The top of the table needs some major TLC, but as for the rest of the set, a little ‘Howards Restorer” did the trick. You’ve inspired me to do a little sanding and staining before the table goes to a new owner! Or, maybe I’ll keep it? Hmm. Anyhow, thanks for your inspiration – and Leo’s quite the commentor – isn’t he?

  6. Just curious, looking to purchase this headboard from someone. How did you attach it to your bed frame? I have a standard metal one..

    • Hi Cathy,

      I have two of these headboards, same size. One of them came with the side rails and footboard, so I use it that way. The other one I drilled holes in it so that I could bolt it to my metal hollywood bed frame. Hope that helps! 🙂

  7. hi is the headboard solid wood? I just bought a buffet that is from the same line which needs to be refinished, but it seems to be a wood veneer. I would like to know if you think I can do it with the same steps and products….I never did anything i this before, I hope it will turn out as nice as your headboard!

  8. Hi I was wondering if you stripped this first? I want to fix up my Broyhill Saga dining table. I don’t want to strip it but I’m afraid sanding won’t be enough.

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