Anyway...back to my post. I get a lot of emails from people asking for advice & tips on how to get started with painting this or that, and while I love to answer all your emails (thanks for writing!), I thought - I should post these! I'm sure there are others who would like to know but haven't asked, so today I thought we could have a little Q+A. Here's a question from Brooke:
"Hello! My name is Brooke and I absolutely love your inspiring projects! I just recently bought a dresser off of Craigslist that is a dark wood of some sort and thought that I would repaint it. I was wanting some advice before I got started just to make sure I'm doing it correctly. If it has a finish, I would sand it, and then if I'm wanting to paint it a lighter color such as white would you suggest priming it first? Also, how do you know how much sanding to do? I don't have an electric sander so I will be doing it by hand. Any other steps or advice? I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks again!"
Hi Brooke! Thanks so much for writing! I'm more than happy to help. First off, what kind of look are you going for?
I'd say, first thing first, clean that piece! TSP is a great cleaner, but you can get in there with whatever you prefer.
If you are going down the path of shabby chic/distress, then skip the sanding and definitely spring for chalk paint. You can buy chalk paint from special retailers, and while I hear it's wonderful it's also a little pricy. So if you're on a budget you can use a DIY chalk paint recipe that I always use (I just did last week!) and have had amazing results so far. The reason I suggest chalk paint is due to the chalk (or plaster of paris in the DIY case) this stuff really sticks and coats amazingly well. So it's a huge shortcut if you don't want to sand the entire piece. It's also extremely soft, so when (if!) you go to distress you don't have to sand your arm off just to get a few knicks & scratches, it's perfection.
You can do the "clean" look using chalk paint as well, just skip the distressing & be sure to use a good seal. I love Minwax Water-based Polycrylic, it's my choice for almost every project. I like water-based because I can't STAND cleaning a paintbrush after using anything oil-based. I'm just lazy, truth be told, and clean up is my least favorite part.
If you don't want to go the chalk paint route, then I would suggest giving the piece a good sanding, but no need to remove the finish completely since you are just going to cover it back up. You need to give the paint something to hold onto, that's all. For a super smooth and durable finish, sand in-between coats with a fine sandpaper - I suggest doing that part by hand vs. the sander unless your sander has a low setting. It's just to get the rough spots out. I would definitely suggest a good primer in this case (Kilz is fantastic) that will stick to smooth surfaces, and, it will save you paint in the color you actually WANT.
Once you are done painting, sanding and painting again (however many times that takes!) I highly recommend sealing the piece. You have some choices in sealing, the most popular (in my opinion) being wax & polycrylic. Wax is very durable and gives the furniture a nice sheen & soft touch, and a Polycrylic is just plain amazing. It's clear, and will protect against unbelievable odds. It really all depends on how much use the piece will be getting, once you determine that you can ask a specialist in the hardware store for advice on the best. Just tell them what kind of abuse it's going to get and they'll recommend the best for you.
I hope that my very lond winded answer helps! Here are some links to the things I mentioned above:
The Hutch I completed using chalk paint, without distress & sealed with polycrylic:
The Great Hutch Makeover
Here's a tutorial where I used the DIY chalk paint recipe, distress techniques, and waxing:
DIY Chalk Paint Roll Top Desk
and last, here is a general painting tutorial using layers & pre-waxing for easier distress:
School of Restoration: Teal & Persimmon Side Table
Thanks for writing in Brooke! I'm always happy to help. If you or anyone you know have a question you'd like to ask me, don't hesitate: Email-me!
Have a relaxing weekend everyone.
Coming up next: 3-D Paper Spheres...DIY!