Solid Waste & Recycling


The Refinishing Touch

For frequent business travelers who find themselves in an endless series of hotel rooms, the furnishing and décor of the space has probably never left any lasting impression (unless, of course, it was highly unsatisfactory). A bed,...

For frequent business travelers who find themselves in an endless series of hotel rooms, the furnishing and décor of the space has probably never left any lasting impression (unless, of course, it was highly unsatisfactory). A bed, dresser, TV cabinet, chair, desk… you only need the essential elements of utility and comfort to satisfy the need for work and rest. The very function that hotel furniture serves also demands that it be upgraded or replaced more often that most of us would imagine.

Today, hoteliers have an option other than replacement. The Refinishing Touch is on the job and making a big difference in the bottom line of hotels that need to spruce up their rooms cost effectively. It’s now possible, thanks to this company, to not only give wood furniture a facelift, but also to refurbish leather using Embrace™ — a new eco-friendly leather recently added to the commercial (upholstery) lineup at Touch Textiles, the parent organization’s fabric division.

The Refinishing Touch ( is based in Alpharetta, Georgia and was founded in 1977. ISO-certified, the company and is a leader in what it calls safe, environmentally sustainable “furniture asset management services.” As a bonus for their world-class public and private clientele, The Refinishing Touch performs its refurbishing services onsite, thereby minimizing disruption, downtime and inconvenience, all of which translates into significant benefits to the bottom line.

The Refinishing Touch has an impressive list of clients from the hospitality industry: Hyatt, Wyndham, Marriott, Hilton, IHG and Starwood. Recently, the company announced a preferred vendor partnership with Fairmont Raffles Hotels International (FRHI), a provider of luxury accommodations across 139 worldwide properties. On a somewhat higher echelon, they also count among their clients The White House, The Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts, the United States Congress, Department of Justice and Defense, the Military and the Coast Guard.


Hotel furniture takes a beating: scuffing, scratching, desk edges worn down, armoires outdated, chair seats flattened and faded by a thousand posteriors. Enter The Refinishing Touch with a solution for every wear and tear situation.

Desks take on a new life when refitted with protective rubber T-moldings and treated with a non-toxic, non-flammable, VOC-free color finish. Presto! Onsite and in short order the desk is reborn. A desk preservation project, contracted by Hilton Garden Inn Columbia/Northeast Hotel, and completed onsite, saved the facility $46,000 when compared to the purchase of new assets.

When leather chairs hit the skids, it’s a very sad sight; but with the newest textile in their extensive Touch Textiles inventory, The Refinishing Touch can replace old hide with new Embrace leather, a reclaimed product that’s re-worked into a beautiful upholstery material.

Candlewood Suites in Killeen, Texas was in sore need of chair replacement. Clients were complaining and something needed to be done. To buy or not to buy? That was the question.

The Refinishing Touch’s specialists took 68 lounge seats, 63 desk chairs as well as seven side chairs and restored them to their original lustre using Embrace while reducing the hotel’s expenditure by an estimated 64.3 per cent.

The total cost for the project was reduced from $65,000 to just over $23,000.

Let’s take a look at the concept of recycled leather from the 3Rs point of view.

First, discarded leather is collected from traditional manufacturers of clothing, shoes, furniture etc. and put through a series of scouring processes to achieve a consistently even texture.  Then it’s cleaned to allow a uniform, natural color for the finished product. Then the leather is combined with a polyurethane-finished fabric. After a second “wash” to enhance the softening, the product — now environmentally safe and clean — is ready for an eco-friendly face finish with cellular, PVC-free polyurethane.

The final product, trademarked Embrace, has all the finest characteristics of leather: colour, lustre, hand-rubbed layered tones and dimensional grains (minus the environmental impacts associated with leather production. Embrace, a product of Culp Inc. ( is a long-wearing and cost-effective solution for commercial clients. The Refinishing Touch is a certified Culp dealer and, with this option to replace worn out leather with a new recycled product, the company has gained a competitive edge.

Should The Refinishing Touch cast their eye north of the border, I hear that our Prime Minister’s residence at 24 Sussex Drive is desperate for refurbishing… and Canadian taxpayers love a good deal!

Diane Blackburn is Events Manager for the Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) and produces the RCO’s annual Waste Minimization Awards. This column regularly profiles finalists and winners from that awards program, and others across Canada.
Contact Diane at

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