Last week I wrote a post about what you should look for in a piece of furniture you want to refurbish. You can read more about that here. This week, I’m following up with how you can prep furniture for painting.
Keep in mind that if you ask ten people what they do before painting, you may get ten different answers. There isn’t one definitive process to be successful. Depending on the condition of the wood and the type of paint you plan to use, prep can be minimal.
Here’s the process I typically use.
5 Steps to Prepping Furniture for Painting
- Remove hardware. I recommend keeping all knobs, screws, etc together in a little labeled bag. If you are anything like me, you think you’ll remember where you put things, but if this isn’t the only project you’ve got going on things can easily be misplaced.
- Clean it up. Wipe down the wood with a 1:1 warm water and white vinegar solution with a squeeze of Dawn dish soap. Some furniture is really grimey after years in storage. Once clean, you can see if any surface repairs are needed.
- Repairs. Now’s the time to fill any deep gouges, glue down any loose veneer. Want to change the placement of hardware? Fill those holes with putty.
- Break it down (optional). When possible, I like to take things, like chairs, apart. It’s interesting to see how things are built-dowels, mortise and tenon, pocket holes, etc. Whether just removing screws or tapping joints apart with a rubber mallet. This makes it easier to sand and paint.
- Sanding. Can be done by hand or with a sander. Start with the coarsest grit (60-80) to remove old paint/stain. Work up to finer grits to smooth the surface: 120,180, 220 grit. If the wood has an interesting grain, I like to sand down to bare wood in case I want to use a color wash, rather than straight color.
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Five steps sounds easy, but to be fair, some old finishes take lots of elbow grease to remove or at least smooth down. This little table took me about two hours to cut through the varnish that was globbed on with a palm sander.
Every project is different and should be part of the learning curve. Good preparation for painting is important to the quality of the end product, especially if you want the finish to hold up to regular use. Trust me when I say there is nothing quite as deflating as getting a project all painted, only to have that paint wear off because you didn’t take the time to properly prep the previously shellacked surface. True story. One I have yet to resolve. That desk sits in my office, mocking me for the past four years. It’s on my to-do list.
So now that you know how to find a great project piece and how to prep it for the finish of your choice, go out there and make something new again! Then share your creation by posting it on my facebook page :