Tips for painting old furniture
I love to find an old piece of solid wood furniture and restore it to “like-new” condition, but don’t necessarily paint it. If you decide to stain or paint it, the same steps apply in the beginning.
Most older furniture is made from better woods than most cheaper and newer furniture in the stores, but just because it is old doesn’t necessarily mean it is made of good hardwoods.
Oak was once the lumber of the poorer classes, so there is a lot of oak furniture in homes of modest income estate sales, and oak is good wood. If you happen to find some furniture that is made of oak, buy it cheap and restore it, but please, don’t paint it. It’s your furniture, so decide what you are going for and then go for it. Remember, it is okay to make mistakes and learn as you go. We all had to start somewhere and you did buy it cheap or get it free, after all.
Bring Life to Old Furniture
Want to try something different? Creative approaches to painting old furniture can take that ugly chipped dresser from a basement space-hog to an interesting, whimsical chest of drawers, or even a piece of art. Following are some ideas, and instructions for how-to. Remember not to be afraid to experiment. It’s just paint!
There may be several layers of paint and/or varnish on the wood by the time you get hold of it. Chemical strippers come in water-base or oil-base and work quite well, especially for heavy and multiple layers of paint.Follow the directions and be safe, the chemicals can be quite toxic, so wear gloves, work in open areas and don’t get any in your eyes, that’s why the goggles are important.
Antiquing Painted Furniture
I really like to soften the painted look by making the furniture look a bit older, but not what many call “antiquing.” I apply some tan pigment to clear glaze and rub the corners and edges to soften the harsh, new color of the new paint, then polish it all with wax.
For a shabby-chic look, don’t sand all the existing paint off. Rough it up, let some of the wood show through, but leave streaks of sanded paint. You can then paint another color over the first round of sanding, let that dry for 24 hours, and then light sand it again, either by hand or with a small orbital electric sander. This gives a wonderful two-toned effect.
For an added patina, at this stage, try painting gold or bronze craft paint onto the surface with a rough wide brush, allowing the sanded paint beneath it to show through in places.
I used this technique on a small set of wooden steps that are hinged and and can be opened for storage. I get so many compliments on those steps, and someone even asked if I had “discovered” the beautiful antique finish underneath the old white paint! Great fun, and easy to do.
These tips for painting furniture will ensure beautiful, lasting results.
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