Replacing / Removing Wood Veneer

DIY for removing wood veneer can be tough, but we can help walk you through how to replace old wood veneer. Follow these simple step-by-step instructions.

1. Figure out if you can veneer over the existing wood veneer.
Is there already veneer on the surface you're looking to add your new wood veneer to? It’s not always necessary to remove the old wood veneer before moving forward, but it should be intact, not bubbled or cracked, and firmly attached, if you are even considering veneering over it. Some surfaces are not suitable for veneering or re-veneering. Even if you’re using a relatively affordable domestic species like alder veneer, you don’t want to complete a whole project only to find out after the fact you have to eat the cost of the veneer you applied because the substrate wasn’t suitable. 


2. Determine the type of glue used to bond the veneer.
Removing or replacing old veneer can either be a relatively easy process or incredibly difficult, and this all depends on what type of glue was used to bond the veneer. If the item was built in the past fifty years, the glue that was used was likely a yellow, white or some other type of synthetic resin glue. Many of these glues are extremely resistant to heat and moisture. However, veneer on most antique items were most likely bonded with hide glue. Hide glue is very strong but with only having little resistance to heat and water.

3. Gather your tools.
If you are forced to remove old wood veneer, a heat gun and a putty knife are essential tools.

4. Start removing the old wood veneer.
You must first apply heat to the edge of the veneer to loosen the glue. Then start with the putty knife under the edge and lift as you go.

5. Keep going.
This process can be slow and the veneer will likely come off in small chunks. There are no shortcuts to removing the old veneer.

6. Clean off the glue.
Once the veneer is removed, you must clean the entire surface of any glue residue.

7. Fix the underlying surface.
Repair any deep scratches and gouges prior to re-veneering. Remember, any flaws in the surface can telegraph through the veneer and show up in your finished product.

If you need help learning how to apply your new layer of wood veneer after you've removed the old layer, see the "Installation Guides" section of our Tips & Info page. We also have lots of great answers in our FAQs page and our Veneer Answer Base, and if we haven't answered your questions on our site, you can call us toll free at 1-800-426-6018 during our regular business hours of 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM EST. Our staff of experts are happy to help you. We have years of experience working with craftsmen who use our veneer products. We can also recommend other sources of information to you.