While in moving limbo, my DIY projects have been pushed to the side. I am itching to get back to finding, fixing, and enjoying projects that I have scribbled on my lengthy to-do list. But during my hiatus of sorts, I thought I would give you a how-to on painting furniture…so you can continue to enjoy making over tired pieces, bringing them new life!
Bear with me – this is going to be a very basic guide to re-painting your furniture. I don’t recommend jumping headlong into the painting pool without a clue, especially if you want a professional looking finish. That being said I am going to focus on just wood furniture for now. Laminates and other surfaces will be explored later!
A Basic Guide to Re-Painting Furniture:
1. The most important step: know your piece and what you are trying to achieve. Before you bust out the paintbrushes, develop a game plan and ask yourself a couple questions. What are you trying to do with your piece? What feel do you want to achieve? Where is your furniture going to be displayed? Going in blind to the paint department of Lowe's or Home Depot is wholly overwhelming. Save yourself some grief, decide where you want to put the furniture, what color you are thinking of (or at least have a good idea) and what style you want to achieve.
Gather your supplies: paint, sand paper (medium and fine grit), rags, Murphy’s Oil, Sealant (polycrylic – more in a minute), brushes and/or rollers.
2. The first thing you need to do is to remove the hardware & drawers and give it a good cleaning (especially if your find has been tucked away in a dusty garage for a year…or 10.) A good cleaning agent is Murphy’s Oil soap, but at the very least wipe the piece down with a damp rag.
3. After you have cleaned up the piece it is time for sanding. The goal of sanding is to remove the shiny finish that is currently on the furniture so that there is a good surface for your new paint to “stick” to. There are many grits when it comes to sand paper. A medium grit (typically #80) will be sufficient for this job. Depending on the piece, I recommend using a combination of a hand sander and old-fashioned sand paper. The hand sander is ideal for larger flat surfaces like tabletops and drawer fronts. Old-fashioned sand paper is better for more detailed work.
For painted furniture: sand and remove all loose paint and blemishes. You don’t need to sand all the way down to the bare wood just enough to rough up the finish. For stained pieces: remove the glossy finish.
4. After you have sanded everything, fix and repair anything that needs some TLC. Use wood fill to repair dents, cracks or holes in the wood – it even works to fill in missing details. Once the repair work has been done (and dried!), wipe down with a damp cloth to remove any lingering dust. If you skip this step, it will make your paint job lumpy!
5. After the furniture is dry, it’s prime time! Primer helps the paint adhere to the furniture, provides for more even coverage, and hides any discoloration in the wood. Oil-based primers are generally good for furniture – bear in mind that you’ll need paint thinner to clean your brushes, if you don’t want to deal with that step latex primer works just fine. If you are jazzing up a piece that has been stained you’ll want to use a “stain blocking” primer. This primer has an additive that keeps the stain from eventually seeping through the new paint. Once the primer has dried we are going to sand again! Are you getting tired of the sanding yet?! This time you are going to use a fine grit sand paper (#120 works fine). Ideally you should lightly sand in between every coat. It makes the finish look more professional! Make absolutely certain that you always wipe the dust off or it will ruin the smooth finish (and all your hard work!)
6. Finally, you are ready to paint! I don’t know if you have ever set foot in a paint department, but there are a lot of different kinds of paint with several different kinds of finishes. Here is a breakdown of finishes:
-Flat: A matte finish that does not reflect light. Generally used on interior walls and ceilings.
-Eggshell: You know how an egg has a very low sheen? Well, that’s what you should think of. Just a slight hint of gloss. Eggshell can also be used for walls; it is slightly easier to clean than a flat finish.
-Satin: Smooth and velvety with just a little more gloss than eggshell. Used for windows, doors, trim, and walls. Cleans better than first two finishes, and also wears better (think scuff marks).
-Semi-gloss: Is even more reflective than a satin finish. Good for high traffic areas.
-High-gloss: Highest reflective finish. This finish is the easiest to clean. It has a super reflective quality great for dark places, trim and windows.
For furniture, I would recommend an interior latex paint with a satin or semi-gloss finish. It is easier to clean than a flat finish, but bear in mind – the glossier the finish the more noticeable any imperfections are. When you start painting, don’t glop it on. It takes patience, but thin even layers with light sanding in between provide the best finish. Usually it will take 2 to 3 coats for optimal coverage.
7. Once you get the last coat on let it dry for at least 24 hours, and then you’ll be ready for the final step: sealing. Sealing helps protect your finish (and all that hard work you just put into it!) There are several options you have when it comes to sealing and a lot of it is just personal preference…so I am just going to leave you this one tip for sealing: if you have painted your furniture light colors do not use polyurethane to seal, because it can yellow over time. A better option is polycrylic. Polycrylic provides the same durable finish and all the same types of sheens [not Charlie or Martin] as polyurethane (satin, semi-gloss, gloss) BUT because it is water-based it doesn't yellow.
After sealing your furniture, let it set up for 24 hours before use. Add your hardware and enjoy your new beautiful furniture!
Like I said earlier, this is a fairly basic re-painting how to, and I will do some more detailed posts later on. If you have any specific questions, let us know and we will answer them as soon as we can! Hope you guys enjoy the process and watching your furniture transform!