Monday, June 10, 2013

Crafty Home: Furniture Painting Tutorial

by Jelena Pticek | Poppyseed Creative Living

No matter how easy a job may seem, if you want to do it right you will need to put some effort into it. The same goes for painting. The secret lies in good preparation. Make sure that you work with quality tools, starting with paint, brushes and sealants. Bad quality materials will make your job far more difficult and the end result may not be up to your standards. Also, don’t forget to take your time, work at your own leisure and most importantly have patience and have fun!

Project piece
Painter’s tape
Sand paper, potentially paint stripper
Primer (optional)
Paint tray
Rollers and brushes
Jazzy hardware (optional)

TIP: If you are a novice, chose a smaller project, like a small desk or a stool with straight lines. The simpler the lines are, the greater your chance at success.

Step 1. Make sure that the surface is well prepped. Remove all the hardware and if you won’t be putting it back then fill all the holes with the wood filler. With drying the filler may contract a bit and create a dimple in the surface and you may have to repeat the process two or three times. Once the filler is dry and firm sand it off to create a smooth surface. If you want to make sure that the spot where the hole was closed in will not show through; close your eyes and go over the entire surface with the tips of your fingers, if you can not feel the difference then you have done a good job. Sand the entire piece, and then sand it some more. Remove all the dirt, tape off the areas that you wish to protect, and prime if necessary. (I rarely use primer and only when I want to repaint the piece that has been previously painted with oil paint. You need to ask for a special type of primer at the hardware store, the kind that allows transition from oil to latex.)

TIP: Sandpaper comes in different grit designations - the lower the designation the coarser the paper. For most jobs using 120-grit paper will do, but for surfaces that require better sanding I will suggest 100 or 80-grit. For more information on grit sizing, click here. You can also use paint stripper on pieces that have several coats of paint. If you opt for that, make sure you wear gloves and protective clothing.

Step 2. Once your surface has been thoroughly prepped and cleaned it is ready to receive the first coat of paint. I usually put two to three coats of indoor latex paint or furniture formula latex paint. Different pigments are mixed with different bases and colours like red and yellow will require more coats to ensure even coverage. You can use a small foam roller or a variety of brushes for your job. While rollers do a great job on larger surfaces, brushes are excellent for cutting in all the corners and crevices.

TIP: When purchasing brushes, talk to the sales people, describe your project and they will be able to give you a good advice. In my experience, foam brushes tend to leave less brush marks and cause less drips than their “hairy” alternatives.

Step 3. Between coats, I sand the surface lightly with a 120-grit paper to make sure that the next coat of paint adheres better. Wait for the paint to dry completely before applying the sealant. If you are going for the distressed vintage look, use the sand paper to distress the surface in places where it would get most wear.

TIP: I do not use mechanical sander at this point as it does not allow for much control, but you may find that it works for you. In the course of years I have experimented with different distressing techniques. At times I use steel wool (never on light surfaces as it leaves grey residue - I learned this the hard way). I also used turpentine and my bare hands, but if you are just starting sand paper is the best option.

Step 4. After you have achieved the desired look, you can proceed with protecting the surface. There are a variety of options out there of which I use the following two:

1) Clear water-based polyurethane finish – it dries quickly, provides good durability and does not yellow over time. This finish is best for high traffic surfaces like tabletops.

2) Paste finishing wax - protects and adds lustre to any stained or finished wood surface (using wax finish will give your furniture a much softer look). In addition, wax protects the surface against moisture and humidity. You can also apply wax over polyurethane finish.

Step 5. Add your hardware once the polyurethane or the wax has been applied.

TIP: Wash your brushes, paint trays and rollers thoroughly after use. It will save you some $$ and a trip to the hardware store.

Et Voilà! This concludes our furniture painting tutorial.

If you still believe that this is more than you are willing to cope with, send me an email at I will be happy to help you with your next painting job.

*All images contained in this post are courtesy of Jelena Pticek | Poppyseed Creative Living.

About the Author
Jelena Pticek is the founder of Poppyseed Creative Living in Toronto, Ontario. "Transforming used furniture and found objects into funky, one-of-a-kind décor for your home or cottage. Poppyseed Creative Living is part passion, part promise. My passion: making the old new, art that works, and pieces that serve a purpose. My promise: originality, craftsmanship, and a process that's green, green, green." You can find Jelena's creations at local craft fairs, at her Etsy shop and at Freedom Clothing Collective in Toronto.


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