Helpful Tips For Painting Furniture

Founder of Furniture Rescue

The conversation usually starts out something like, I have this (insert name of piece of furniture here) that was (insert family member name here). Then continues with it’s been in the family and/or it’s been in storage and/or I really don’t like it the way it is, but I’d like to use it or my child wants to use it and/or my parents gave it to me and I have to use it. So, I’m thinking about painting it.
It seems easy enough and the appeal is that you can take a not-so-attractive-looking piece of furniture, paint it, possibly change out or paint the hardware, and have a newer looking furniture piece that brightens up your living space. Beware, there are few common mistakes that can leave you disappointed in how your piece turns out.

1 Not Cleaning the Furniture Piece Thoroughly Before Priming or Painting

If you leave any dirt, dust, oi, or any kind of substance on the piece before painting, the primer or paint won’t adhere properly. This will cause the paint to peel or chip away instead of sticking to the piece. Dust can create tiny bumps in the surface which don’t come off (or look very good!) The only way to fix this is to go back, sand, and repaint.
Before we begin work on any piece of furniture, we do a quick triage to evaluate how much cleaning is needed, if any finish that is worn away, and any repairs that are needed. For a light cleaning we’ll use a damp cloth to clean off any dust, dirt and cobwebs. Then we’ll run our hands along the surfaces to see if we feel anything else. For exceptionally dirty furniture, a more intense cleaning and/or some sanding is required. Don’t forget to inspect the inside of drawers and cabinets! A hand-vac can easily get rid of any dust or debris in drawers or interior corners.
A thorough cleaning with our favorite cleaner, Howard’s Clean-A-Finish, can get rid of most odors.

2 Not paying attention to the prep work

Some holes and cracks are obvious while other smaller ones are hard to see…that is until you paint and then you can’t unsee them! Using the flashlight function on your cell phone (or go old school and grab a flashlight from your junk drawer) look over the surfaces, sides and moldings of the piece, shining the light at different angles to see anything that may need to be filled or sanded. Primer may be required after sanding or filling, especially on darker or redder pieces.
Skipping the prep work can be appealing as it’s often tedious, but prep work is crucial to achieving a high quality, smooth finish. You don’t want all of your hard work to chip off or have bleed through later!

3 Not giving thought to your brush or paint

The last thing you want to see on your piece of furniture that you’ve worked so hard on is brush strokes! If you are painting your piece with a brush, avoid using a cheap one. Cheap paint brushes are guaranteed to show brush marks easily. Your time is too vaIuable to end up with a low-quality product. Do your homework and research to find a good quality paint brush that works for you and will give the best value/results for your money (and it doesn’t need to be the most expensive top of the line either). The same goes for the paint you choose to use. There are a lot of options out there and some that I have yet to try. Make smart choices about the best products for your budget. At Furniture Rescue, our go to brushes are Cling On brushes for paint and Zibra brushes for top coating. You’ll find us using General Finishes and Paint Couture Paints.

4 Don’t Choose a Color That You’ll Soon Be Sick Of

One look at my Pinterest board and you’ll see a lot of brightly colored, trendy or funky colors. It’s what I like and a true reflection of my aesthetic. But those colors in real life, in your living space may not reflect you or your style.You want your painted piece to add interest and style to your space, not look like a cheap garage sale find. Make sure you really love the color you are choosing! Don’t overthink it though. If you later regret your color choice and have to go back and add another coat of paint, it wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen!

5 Painting Any Cheap Furniture You Can Get Your Hands On and ThenExpecting Amazing Results

Be realistic about the type of material you are working with and what the potential outcome could be. Oftentimes that inexpensive furniture find is actually made of particle board or laminate. No matter how much effort you put into it, the quality of your outcome will be lacking. Work with good quality wood furniture whenever you can for the best possible results.
Use the curbside castaways and yard sale finds for practice, unless you got lucky and scored a well-made piece!

6 Practicing Difficult Techniques for the First Time on One-Of-A Kind Antiques

If you are going to attempt an intricate or difficult technique for the first time, please do not experiment on your family heirloom. Buy a dresser from the thrift store or better yet rescue one from the curb. You can always grab a board from the hardware store and use it for practice. If you’re still not getting the results you want, bring your family heirloom to Furniture Rescue
and have us take over your project.
Want to have beautiful, lasting results? Painting furniture takes practice and planning. I’ve made my share of mistakes and happy accidents along the way. I’ve learned a lot about what to do and what not do to end up with pieces that I’m really proud of and that my clients love. At Furniture Rescue we’re always happy to talk furniture. Come by and visit our Flippin’ Tools Room for your DYI needs.

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