I don't claim to be a professional furniture restorer, but I play one at home, so that has to count for something. I have cleaned, sanded, stained and painted my way into my own design style. And since I rarely sell something that I took the time to paint myself, I don't sell my furniture pieces so the flaws don't matter to anyone but me and luckily I love flaws.
Everyone has their own paint techniques, and I’m not going to bore you with mine, but I am going to share some of my favorite tips that have worked for me. I like a certain look for my furniture…which is neutral, soft and a little worn and weathered around the edges, not unlike their owner. But if you’ve never painted furniture before and you feel a little intimidated….DON’T, it’s just paint. You’ve got this! Especially since I’m going to whisper in your ear.
It’s In The Bones
Although this may not seem like a painting tip, it really is….buy quality furniture. I’m talking real wood, solid dependable wood. This isn’t one of those things where you want to sink your money into that fake pressed sawdust stuff. There is a look to real wood furniture that can’t be duplicated, something magical. So when at all possible, go for the real deal and leave the falsies for someone else to show off.
Clean Up Your Act
Disclaimer! Once again, I don’t claim to be a pro. This is my method…the good, the bad and the ugly. There is a ton of information available on Pinterest or by Googling it to find more professional methods, but I like my way so strap in as long as we have an understanding. I like to clean my pieces with a mixture of 3/4 c. of walnut oil to 1/4 c. lemon vinegar. Apply it with a micro fiber cloth or an old diaper cloth, buff it in and stand back and watch the miracle occur. I can’t tell you how often I change my mind about painting a piece after I have cleaned it. This stuff is amazing! But if I decide to paint it anyway, I wait at least 24 hours for the oil to soak in.
I Don’t Strip For Anybody
Unless I’m going to re-stain a piece, I just don’t strip. My furniture and I have a deal, I don’t get naked in front of it and it returns the favor. I do however give it a light sanding, I need the surface to grip my paint and hang on for dear life. For this I will use my much loved, but well abused hand sander. Oh, and stock up on sanding sheets…..lots of sanding sheets. For this I typically use a medium grade.
Two Birds One Paint
Now here is where I am going to lose some of you. I don’t use, have never used, will never use chalk paint. I honestly don’t see the need. Now that I’ve said that, let me say this. I’ve seen some beautiful furniture that has been painted with chalk paint, but I’m a lazy chick with an overly developed frugal gene. I can’t be bothered to go to special stores to buy a quart size jar of paint when I can get a gallon. My favorite go to, never paint without it paint is Valspar Signature in flat. It is a latex paint and primer and I love this stuff. I just wouldn’t use anything else.
The Other Stuff
I like brushes. There I’ve said it. I don’t spray on my paint, I won’t use a roller, I like the control I have with a good quality brush. Yes it takes longer, but I get the look I want with a brush. Before you begin, let me tell you, you’re going to need some music, really good music to help you through. This is vital, I would like to suggest The Doors or Bach! First coat goes on, allow it 24 hours to dry, then give it a light sanding with a fine grade sanding block. Second coat goes on and here is where it gets sticky. I will let it dry to the touch, then I begin to distress if that is the look I’m going for. Slightly dampen your sanding block, wring it out really well and start around the edges of your drawers and work your way around making sure you get the corners. Then distress wherever furniture would naturally wear, around the feet, edges, knobs and corners. If you make a mistake while distressing, simply use a dry brush on some more paint. Load your brush and gently tap the majority of the paint off onto a scrap piece of plywood, then apply with light strokes over the mistake. Then allow the paint to dry and harden at least another 24 hours.
Wax On Wax Off
This is another area where a lot of my junkin friends will go absolutely bat poo crazy. I use plain old Johnson’s Paste Furniture Wax. Yes, you read that right. I don’t see the need to get a fancy wax either. This stuff is awesome, it gives me that soft look, hardens and protects like the OU offensive linemen and has never let me down. No, I don’t think it yellows my pieces, but the color of the paint definitely looks richer, that’s a bonus in my mind. Plus I find that it helps to keep some of my older drawers from sticking.
The Wrap Up
That’s my crazy paint techniques. However you choose to paint your furniture, the point is don’t be afraid of it. Painting furniture is one way to install some instant glam, color or style into your room. And if it doesn’t turn out the way you had hoped, the best part is, it’s only paint and can be repainted. But in all honesty, there is no feeling like walking past a piece of furniture that you painted, you will run out of friends to show it off to before you get tired of talking about it. Or, you could just start your own blog!