Do you want to paint some old furniture? If you find yourself saying “Hell yea!,” you’re not alone! In fact, one of the most common questions we get asked when people visit the shop is for advice related to painting old furniture. As a shop that specializes in salvaging and upcycling the old in order to make it new again, we have experimented with different paints, fabrics, brushes and techniques. While every piece is different, we definitely have a sense for what works and what REALLY doesn’t on old, dusty pieces.
So, we’ve put together 3 tips for painting old furniture for the first time. These revolve around how to prepare to paint and refinish your old piece. But before we jump into the tips, here are a few thoughts on the best types of projects for first-timers:
START WITH A PROJECT THAT IS NOT TOO BIG OR COMPLICATED.
Start with a simple chair or ottoman. Look for chairs that are primarily wood except for an upholstered seat. Why? Because you’ll be able to test two skills at the same time and get a sense for what you’re good at and what you like.
BE PREPARED TO MAKE MISTAKES.
Heck, no one’s perfect! Plus, no one expects you to be a master at this the first time. The best part is that since you’re starting with a rather small project, no mistake is ever too big that it can’t just be easily fixed by some more paint or a little more fabric.
HAVE FUN WITH IT.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, and you won’t be disappointed. Embrace whatever comes of your project, whether it comes out the way you want it to or not. Sometimes the most unexpected things make the best finished projects!
Now that you know what you’re getting into, here are TWW’s 3 tips for painting old furniture:
1. HIT UP THE “OOPS!” PAINTS.
Head over to your favorite home improvement warehouse, paint store or local salvage yard and check out the paint ‘mess ups’ that people don’t want. There are often great color options at half the price. If you live in the DC area, I’m a big fan of Community Forklift’s unopened gallons of Amazon Select Paints. Once you get the paint home, remember to always smell it to see if it has gone bad. Bad paint smells like rotten eggs. Yuck!
2. DON’T SPEND A FORTUNE ON PAINT BRUSHES.
I love working with shorty brushes. They’re great because they have a bendable handle, so you can get into tight spaces, and your wrist won’t get tired. Best yet–they are only $5.47! My favorite shorty brush is the Wooster Shortcut 2 inch Polyester Angle Sash Brush. You can find them at your neighborhood Home Depot.
3. SKIP EXPENSIVE UPHOLSTERY FABRIC.
Fabric can get crazy expensive. Instead of spending a ton of money, scour your local thrift shops for vintage drapery. Mix and match if needed to get the coverage that you need. Just make sure the weight of the fabric is heavy enough to be a durable cover for your project.
Stay tuned for tips on how to prep your piece for paint, coming in next week’s post!