Maybe you have an old dresser or hutch that is coated with paint, and it is chipped and cracked. Or maybe you just purchased an old varnished washboard stands at an auction, and it needs to be painted in order to spruce it up. Whatever the case, you can repaint old furniture yourself and end up with some beautiful pieces.
Before you start to paint any old furniture, you will first need to prepare the surface. To do this, you will need to strip off any varnish, shellac, paint, et cetera, that is on it. There are several ways to do this, depending on the finish. If the furniture is already painted, then the easiest way to strip it is to used a liquid wood stripper.
When you choose a liquid wood stripper, find one that is relatively safe to work with. Many strippers contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful if the fumes are breathed in, or if the stripper touches your skin. But, there are safer alternatives on the market. And remember, you should always work in a well – ventilated area, and you should always wear protective eyewear, as well as rubber gloves.
If the old furniture that you are going to paint has drawers, doors, or any other easily removable pieces, carefully take them out first. Remove any hardware on the furniture too, and set it aside. Then, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using the wood stripper on your old furniture. Basically, you pour it on the wood, then you use a paint brush to evenly spread it around.
Make sure you get the stripper in any cracks, crevices, and fancy woodwork the furniture may have. After you have covered the wood, let it sit undisturbed. After the time is up, use a plastic spatula – a metal one can harm the wood – and scrape off the loosened paint. You can use steel wool to remove the paint from fancy woodwork, et cetera.
Place the loosened paint into an old paint bucket as you scrape it off. You might have to reapply the liquid wood stripper, depending on how many coats of paint there are to remove. Finally, wipe any residue off with a clean, soft rag moistened with mineral spirits.
A Word of Caution: Place the rag, the steel wool, and your rubber gloves in the paint bucket too; close the lid tightly. Do not dispose of the paint by placing it in your trash. Since it is toxic waste, you will need to contact your local officials to find out the proper way to dispose of it.
If the finish on your old furniture is varnished or shellacked, you can use steel wool and a furniture refinisher to easily remove it. This clear liquid will work quickly in removing lighter finishes. For the best results, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
After you have stripped the furniture down to the bare wood, you will need to lightly sand the entire piece so that the finish is smooth and free of blemishes. Wipe the dust off with a clean, soft rag.
Now that you have prepared the finish, it’s time to paint your old furniture. Start by using a good quality brush and paint. A two-inch wide paintbrush is a good size to use for large, flat surfaces. If the furniture has cracks, crevices, and fancy woodwork, you will want to use a small half-inch – wide brush to get the paint into those small areas.
In choosing the paint, you can actually use any color that you want. However, if you want to keep the piece looking original, you will want to repaint it the same color that it was. When you are choosing the type of paint you are going to use, keep in mind that enamel paint will provide a durable, glossy finish, while latex paint comes in matte finishes that will easily chip and peel.
Cover the work area with old newspapers, then place the furniture on that. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the paint can in order to achieve the best results. Basically, you will use start by using the wider brush to spread a thin coat of paint evenly across the top of the furniture.
Use long, straight strokes with the brush, and be careful not to leave drips or runs on the edges; smooth the paint out as you go. Work your way down the furniture by painting the sides and the bottom, using the smaller brush where needed. After you have completed the painting, go back and recheck for drips or runs, and fix where needed. Then, let the furniture sit undisturbed while you paint doors, drawers, and any other pieces you removed.
Finally, clean any metal hardware with a corresponding cleaner. That is, if the hardware is brass, then use a brass cleaner, and so on. If the hardware is just a plain metal, you can use a soapy steel wool pad to achieve good results. Be sure to rinse the hardware clean with cool tap water. Finish the cleaning by drying each piece of hardware with a clean, soft rag.
After the paint on the furniture has dried, check it over to see if it needs a second coat; apply if needed. Then, after the piece has thoroughly dried, replace the hardware and the doors, drawers, et cetera.