Monday, August 8, 2011

Furniture Painting Tips

I get several e-mails a month from friends and readers asking for advice on DIY furniture painting projects, so here goes.  DISCLAIMER: I paint furniture as a hobby and have learned by trial and error.  I can almost guarantee there are better ways to do what I do, but what I do works for me and maybe it will work for you! 

This will be just kind of random as I think about it and I'm keeping it short and sweet...Bachelor Pad is on.  HELLO!

  • I tend to like flat paint on real wood pieces.  It gives it a more aged look and it looks better if you want to sand some off.
  • I frequent Home Depot/Lowes every week and pick up colors in the 'oops' bin and make them work.  You can get neutral great colors for a buck or so.  If they're not flat, I just go with it unless I'm going for a specific look.
  • I try to paint almost anything.  It doesn't have to be real wood, but if it's not, make sure it's not a piece you're going to use often (like a dining room table) or the paint will just chip off and piss you off.
  • If you want to age a piece by sanding it, make sure it's real wood.  It never looks right if it's laminate or particle board or if it's been previously painted.  I use a block sander and just do it lightly until I get the look I want.  I normally buy cheap crap, so I don't get to sand alot :)
  • How I usually age furniture is with black paint or ebony stain.  I love me some ebony stain.  It kind of seals the paint and makes the surface more durable.  So, if you have a cheap piece of crap dining table that's laminate (I have two), slap some ebony stain on it after you paint it and it won't chip.
  • Sometimes I'll repaint a table leg 15 times to get the look I want before I do the whole piece.  There is really no method to my madness...I just play around until I get what I want.  I normally start off with a vision of what I want the final product to look like and try to find a picture to color match (just with my eye...not like really color match at Home Depot)
  • I use a tiny roller to cover as MUCH as I can.  The more simple the piece, the easier it is to paint. 
  • Chairs are a pain in the ass to paint...try to spray them if you can.
  • Sometimes I'll layer a few different colors to find something that works especially if I'm trying to work with what I have...which is pretty often. 
  • I wish I had a paint sprayer that works, but I don't and have never used one.  Can't help you there...
  • I always pay attention to hardware and drawer liners!  Hardware can make or break the piece and I spray paint or restore original hardware alot.  I stock up on drawer liners whenever I can because I love the surprise when you open the drawer and there's a little bit of art underneath your goods.  TJ Maxx and Marshalls always have good cheap drawer liners.
  • I'm still trying to perfect that "Restoration Hardware natural reclaimed wood" look.  Let me know if you get it down and how you did it.  I can never get the colors/texture right.
  • I rarely spray paint things...the colors usually suck. 
  • I sand everything before I paint it, but I never prime. 
  • Wood stain stinks, so try to do that outside or in the garage and let it air out for a day or two before you put it back inside.
Here's some things from round the crib that I've painted:

This is my breakfast table I got at a yard sale for $25.  It was white particle board.  I used two shades of gray and painted one base coat with the lightest shade.  Then I added a darker shade and had a glass of water.  I painted a little on with a brush and then dipped the brush in water and wiped it off and kind of smeared the darker paint so it looked like a glaze.  I let that dry and then got out the ebony stain.  I put the stain in the cracks where dirt would naturally build up and then wiped it off with a rag.  This process is pretty messy, but this is one of my favorite pieces. 

This china cabinet was teal and it was cute, but whoever painted it before did a crappy job, so it had to be redone.  That is the original hardware.  I just painted most of this with the roller and then did the knitty gritty with a brush.  I tried to sand some off, but it didn't work because the teal was underneath.  I am actually going to use this tutorial to make the glass look like mercury glass.  It is going to be relocated to the guest room at the foot of the bed and I'm putting a TV inside.  I was going to sell it, but I finally found it a home...just have to repurpose it a bit.

This desk is in my bedroom as a nightstand.  I painted the base solid and then used the ebony stain.  That chair was HORRIBLE to paint.  I would have spray painted that beast if I knew the nightmare it was going to be to brush it. 

I paid $10 for this headboard and it was nasty laminate.  I just used a solid aging. 

My crazy painting is not limited to furniture.  I sprayed that light fixture {scored for $15}, that lamp AND the lampshade.  I paint EVERYTHING!

This buffet is in my dining room.  I'm repainting it white ASAP.  To get this look I used like 4 different shades of blue and green and then used black paint similarly to how I do the ebony stain.  The ebony stain (or any stain) makes the pieces have a satin if you want to keep that flat look, use paint to age it.  Paint is very forgiving, just layer it on and if it's too much wipe it off and use a little water {I keep a cup of water and a ton of rags nearby}.

this is a light green base coat with ebony stain.  I killed it with the ebony stain the first go round, so I had to go back with mineral spirits on a rag and take some off.

This is paint with black paint over it.

For pieces that I use all the time, I put a coat of urethane on top.  It does give it a sheen though, so just beware. 

Here's a sneak peak of my $5 headboard which is actually too big for my bed, but we're fixing that....somehow.  I used a gold leaf on the frame of the bed.  Then I used the ebony stain, BUT it took the gold leaf off, so I had to use black paint instead.  I put a TON of black paint on top of the gold leaf and then just lightly wiped off with a cloth.  I used automotive vinyl spray paint on the vinyl and it worked great!

Well, there you go folks.  PLEASE share any lessons learned or tips you have on painting/refinishing your finds!  I would love to see any before/afters too. 


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