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Top 10 Tips for doing up old wooden furniture
Painting & Decorating Hints & Tips
Member Name: Bellroyd
Painting & Decorating Hints & Tips
Advantages: A tremendous sense of achievement and well being when you do a good job
I spend some of my spare time refurbishing wooden furniture (mostly pine and oak tables and dressers) and although I am a total amateur, during the time I have been doing this I have picked up a fair bit of experience, much of it through my own mistakes.
I find the whole process relaxing and rewarding. I am lucky enough to have a small workshop, kitted out with all my bits and bobs, with music system and beer fridge etc, but you can just as easily set up in your garage or even a spare room. It gives me time away from my other half and if you knew me than you'd know how much she values that! It also keeps me out of mischief/the pub and gives me a sense of tremendous well-being.
I'd like now to pass on my top ten tips about preparing and painting/finishing real wood furniture
Good preparation is the key to a good end result
1. Make sure you remove any surface finish from the wood to be finished. If this is new bare wood, that's fine, but often, on pine tables and the like, you will have a varnish or a build-up of wax to remove. You can get a proprietary product to help with this but using strong chemicals can be expensive and hazardous to health and as well as stripping off the finish, you can also weaken any glued joints in the piece. There is no substitute for a thorough sanding
2. Sand down the wood to provide a good base to which the paint can adhere. I use a mid-range sanding machine which is normally quite sufficient and if you get one that allows you to use a flat or a pointed end, you will be able to get into all the corners. I also use ordinary sanding sheets by hand on all the fiddly bits that cannot be accessed by the sander. Don't sand and paint in the same area for obvious reasons - sanding is best done outside and best also to wear a face mask.
3. The sanding process will help to remove most if not all of the scratches on a table top for example but there may be a few deeper dings and gouges which you may want to consider filling. I tend not to fill these and rather let them remain as part of the character of the piece. If you want a perfectly smooth finish, again a range of proprietary fillers are available. If, however, you ultimately intend to stain, wax or varnish the finished piece, make sure you get a filler that will accept the stain or you risk making it very noticeable.
4 Move from a low to a high grade of sandpaper if you want a really smooth rather than a rustic finish. Maybe Grade 60 to get the rough off, then move through Grade 120 and maybe finish off with a 240 or 400 or even 600 for a silky smooth finish.
5. If you plan to paint over pine which has a lot of knots in it, invest in a small tin of knotting solution. This should be applied by brush to any knots after sanding and this seals the knot and avoids any subsequent bleeding of resin or sap which can come right through your paint and spoil the finish.
6. For bare wood , you will need in most cases to apply a primer/undercoat. I tend to use two coats whether on bare wood or sanded down finishes Water based primer is preferable if you are using a water based topcoat and that way you can wash all your brushes in water rather than in white spirit.
6. You will have considered what finish you want on the finished product. I tend to use water based eggshell to give a soft semi-sheen washable finish. Try out paints you like via the tester ranges typically available. and use good quality paint and brushes which will aid application and ensure you get a good final finish. Whatever you choose, follow the manufacturer's instructions closely. I would stress two particularly important points - a) make sure you lightly sand with fine gauge sandpaper between each coat and b) ensure that you allow plenty of drying time between each coat. Many a piece will have been ruined by people who are anxious to crack on and finish and who have not shown the patience to wait to let the previous coat of paint to dry thoroughly. I invariably wait 24 hours between coats to be on the safe side.
7 Apply at least two topcoats. Invariably I use three. This means that the job will take a little longer to complete, but you will get the best possible coverage.
8. Before you apply any final coat of wax for example, go over every inch of the painted areas and make sure you touch up any pieces you may have missed and allow to dry fully. For example, if you have painted table legs upside down (not you, the table!), then turn it back up the right way and you'll see bits you missed. Work in a good light whether natural or artificial.
9. If you are going to leave a table or dresser top as bare wood and in most cases this is preferable to painting, then make sure you clean off any sanding dust properly before applying any finish. A good way of doing this is to wipe it down with a soft lint free cloth moistened with white spirit. As well as mopping up all the dust, it also helps to bring out the grain in the wood.
9. Chose wax rather than varnish if you want to protect your finished piece. This is merely my own preference, but if you use varnish you risk getting that awful shiny finish that will be more difficult to remove at a later date if you fancy a change. When waxing, use a good quality wax and don't slap it on thickly. Better to have two thin coats than one thick one. Less is more!
10. Finally and importantly, having invested your time, effort and money in refurbishing your furniture, pay due attention to maintenance - washing it down regularly and keeping it clean - touching up any areas of chipped paintwork and cleaning down and rewaxing every 6-12 months to keep it looking really good.
It is surprising how good an old piece of real wood furniture can look when you have given it a new lease of life. So rather than throw it out and replace with expensive new furniture, why not give refurbishment a go. Start with a small inexpensive piece and work your way up. There is a wealth of good information and instructional videos and the like on the old world wide thingamajig. Have fun!
Summary: Gives a new lease of life to tatty old furniture