Wednesday, July 9, 2014

An amateur's view of painting furniture.

It all started when I saw a dresser on a curb.. sitting there... lonely..... deserted..... looking pathetic. I stopped. I'd seen dressers people had refinished and I wanted a buffet or something for in the dining room. It was 2 houses down, had good bones and I decided I needed it.... well, wanted it. I figured I could give this furniture venture a try and see if I can actually refinish or makeover a piece of furniture. That was last August.

What I didn't know about that piece of furniture was that it was going to lead me into a hobby I both love and hate. I love how everything looks. I love picking out paint colors. I love seeing a transformation and being the creator of that transformation. I love sanding paint off to find what lies underneath. I love looking at hardware and painting by hand. Yes, I have painted all of my furniture by hand. I hate how long it can take and that can take time away from my little boy... however, it is an escape for me. Believe it or not.

By the way, that dresser turned out absolutely lovely. So much so that a friend asked me to paint her piano despite the fact that I had only refinished one piece, she trusted me with her daddy's piano. I must admit to being totally intimidated.

I was correct in being intimidated with the piano. There were some stains and rough patches. It needed some serious TLC... It taught me so much. I am so thankful for the opportunity. More to follow on what I learned from each piece below.



Closer up of the damaged area

Another midrange view.

The last piece of furniture I did, my third piece, was in need of serious TLC but again had good bones... Oh and did I mention that it was at the same house from which the first dresser came from?? Again, sitting lonely and pathetic on the curb for over 24 hours (I was out of town when it was put there)... clearly it was meant for me to refinish....


The rotted back... the only thing aside from a drawer that I thought was wrong...

Front view... Forgot to get a back view... maybe I will today...

This dresser taught me much more than I had ever thought of before. Because of the rotted out bottom, broken tracks for the bottom drawer and rotted out back, I learned to use a jigsaw and circular saw. I now feel unstoppable!

FYI the total cost for this dresser including paint and such was $12. Doesn't include the amount of time spent working on it (at least 4 hours a day for 3 days- includes drying time on paint and primer and poly).

Lessons I've learned... piece by piece:
Dresser 1:
1. I love doing this work.
2. It's hard work.
3. It can take a long time and a lot of prep work.
4. The outcome is so worth it.
5. Chalk paint is so easy to use.... the wax not so much.
6. I love staining things.
7. Polyurethane is a pain, but such a lasting finish.

1. Sometimes even with chalk paint you have to prime a piece.
2. Cover stain primer (oil based) is a pain in the rear to work with, but does a fantastic job. When I started the piano, I didn't use any primer because truly you don't need to with chalk paint - so they tell you... and I didn't for dresser 1 but that was a darker color. I'll explain more in a post tomorrow.
3. It was fun to tear apart the piano and clean it all out- goodbye spider webs.
4. Working in a garage is not my favorite things, but it does suffice. I prefer open air but I can't move a piano by myself!
5. Chalk paint is wonderful, but can be temperamental... maybe I should try latex for the first time on my next project.
6. Polycrylic is my favorite. Shorter dry time and just as easy an application as polyurethane without the yellowing effect.

Dresser 2:
1. Don't be afraid to tackle a harder project. It teaches you so many new things that help you gain confidence.
2. Primer is your friend.
3. Sometimes crackle paint is your worst enemy... It gummed up the sander... peeled off in smaller pieces (when there was a large piece, I was stoked).
4. Using latex for the first time... it went on easy but not as thick as chalk paint (which I still prefer but not at the price they sell it).
5. I still love polycrylic.
6. Hobby Lobby has lovely drawer pulls at a price, but Habitat Restore has some good ones to use as is or paint for a fraction of the cost.

So, you have your eyes set on a piece of furniture you want to refinish... Go for it.

 For the least labor intensive work, I can't tell you what to do. I know I have used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and said it's easiest but the piano taught me that isn't always the case. They say you can just paint over whatever with chalk paint. My experience was I couldn't really with the piano due to the stain. There is a disclaimer made by the ASCP company that some stains put on furniture during a certain time period can lead to bleed through. Let me tell you that is totally the truth and when that happens, you must get out the cover stain primer. It must be Cover Stain. I tried a different primer first and it didn't work. Imagine repainting something 4 times.... Yep, that's what I learned with the piano. Use cover stain. It's a pain... it stinks... it's gives a lovely finished product because it gets the job done.

I will say I love the look of furniture covered with Annie's Chalk Paint, a nice velvety finish... It was easy to use with the first dresser where I covered over black paint with no problems. Covering over something with stain was a bit more challenging. Latex was nice and easy. Easy clean up (chalk paint is easy clean up as well) and cheap... cheap.. cheap.... I'm not sure on the durability of it as I just did this project. I know the dresser with chalk paint is still going strong... as in not easily chipped off or anything.  I pray the latex paint does well after a year as well.

Overall, when you set out to paint furniture, you may love it or hate it. If you're one of the people I've spoken with about painting furniture, you may swear at me and curse me and hate my guts when going through the process... depending on how you go about it. (Are you sanding??? staining??? Polycrylic? Polyurethane?? chalk paint? Primer?? Latex paint??? Spray paint???) It's all so overwhelming!

Tomorrow I will set out to give pointers on painting furniture when you're just getting started... from an amateur's point of view... because that's what I am....

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