Friday, March 4, 2011

Painting Furniture

When designing a space on a tight budget, giving 2nd-hand furniture a new life and identity with a fresh coat of paint is a great money-saving option. Here are some tips for best results:

1. Ensure that the furniture is structurally sound, or can be made structurally sound. Paint isn't going to fix broken.

. See the furniture for what it can be, and not what it currently is. As long as the function, shape, form, and lines of the furniture fit into your design plan, paint will work wonders with it. Have a plan for the furniture before you get started.

. Remove the furniture's hardware (pulls), and give the entire surface a light sand ideally using an electric palm sander. When painting furniture you don't need to completely remove the existing surface, you just need to rough it up a bit so that your paint will be able to bond well with the surface (this is particularly true of pieces with an existing hard, glossy finish). When finished, remove dust and wipe furniture clean with a damp rag.

. If changing the furniture's hardware to something very different, use a putty-knife and drywall mud to fill the existing holes and allow sufficient time to dry. This process may need to be repeated until the hole is flush with the surface. When the mud is sufficiently dry, use a sanding block with a light grade sand paper to sand the mud spots, ensuring that they are flush with the surface, and any excess mud is removed.

. Apply 1 coat of primer to the entire surface of the furniture. Using a good quality primer first will save you time and money by improving your coverage, and helping you to avoid unnecessary coats of paint (especially with extreme contrast changes, such as in this example). Choose a primer which offers stain-blocking properties and will adhere to a glossy surface.
I prefer to use a foam roller when painting furniture. It is fast and easy, and gives you a smooth, even finish. Use a brush for corners and tight spots which are difficult to get at with the roller. Be careful to keep your strokes even, feathering your edges and watching edges and corners for drips. Allow 24 hours to dry.

If you notice a number of cracks and gaps in your furniture after priming it, use DAP to fill them.

6. Apply at least 2 coats of paint (if changing to a darker colour), or 3 coats if going to a lighter colour using a good quality paint with a semi-gloss to high-gloss finish. I recommend using a high-gloss finish when painting furniture and cabinetry, simply because it results in a very durable surface, which wipes clean much more easily. As with the primer, use a foam roller and brush, being careful to keep your strokes even, feathering your edges and watching edges and corners for drips. Ensure that paint has sufficient time to dry thoroughly before applying the next coat (at least 30 mins to 1 hr). When finished, allow at least 24 hours to dry before handling the furniture (this will avoid chips and scratches which can easily occur in paint that is still soft).

If you want to save your roller in-between coats, wrap it in a plastic bag, sealed tightly at the handle.

When paint is sufficiently dry, use a pencil and ruler to carefully mark the position of the new hardware. Ensure that your marks align horizontally, vertically, and from the edge of the furniture.

In the case of this example, I replaced the drawers before making my marks to ensure that they would be straight the way that they sit in the dresser.

Drill holes for the new hardware on your marks:

Install new hardware:

Make any necessary touch-ups:

Enjoy your new piece of furniture!

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