Upcycle Your Furniture Series – Prepping Furniture

Upcycle Your Furniture

If you’ve been into the Dooney & Daughters shop recently you will have seen just how much we love to paint furniture! 

After a beautiful and busy summer now is the perfect time to start working on all your furniture painting projects. In the first part of the series we talked about how to choose furniture to upcycle. In part two of the series we will go through how to prep your furniture so that you get the best paint finish possible.

1 – Clean your item

We always recommend starting with a quick clean of your piece of furniture. Often second-hand pieces can be quite dirty or dusty. A quick clean will show up any stains, sticky patches, broken handles etc. If you have sticky patches (people love to put stickers on furniture!) make sure to give it a good clean to remove any residue. Sugar soap works well or you can get an adhesive remover from your local stationery shop.

Painted white side table before and after

The above side table was incredibly sticky and required a very good clean before it could be sanded and then painted.

2 – Remove hardware

If you don’t want to paint over your hardware make sure to remove it before you start. This includes handles and hinges. We often paint our hinges if we’re doing a distressed look and we paint our handles too if they’re in good condition but aren’t the right colour.

3 – Fill any gaps

Using a contract filler, available from paint and hardware shops, fill in any holes, gaps or dents. If you’re planning on changing the handles, make sure to fill in the old holes as they are often the wrong size or in the wrong place. If you’re wanting a distressed look don’t be too over-zealous with filling in dents, they give a lot of character that can’t be easily replicated! Follow the instructions for the contract filler and make sure it is fully dry and that you have sanded it smooth and level before painting.

4 – Sand

We recommend using furniture specific paint like our range of Voodoo Molly Vintage Paint as they’re designed to make painting easy and fun. For your furniture paint to adhere to your item you will need to roughen the outer layer. Using a medium grit sandpaper (e.g. 120 grit), give your entire item a quick sand. Remember that this doesn’t need to be perfect.

Painted stools, before and after

While the wood stool only required a light sand, the stool on the right had been partially spraypainted and needed a thorough sand to even it out.

5 – Clean your item

Now it’s time to give your item a good clean. You want to make sure that there’s no dust or grit when you start painting. If there’s a lot of dust from when you sanded, try vacuuming first to remove as much as possible. Make sure to wait until your item is completely dry before you start painting.

6 – Primer (optional)

Sometimes you will need to use a primer before you can use your furniture paint.

  • If your item has water, ink or nicotine stains or if you think it will have tannin bleed*, we recommend using a Stainblock Primer first. This will stop any stains from showing through your paint finish. We highly recommend this as it can be very frustrating once you finish painting only to find a yellow water ring come through!
  • If your item isn’t solid wood but is instead laminate, formica, tile or glass, we recommend using Bondcoat Primer first. This is durable and will allow your paint something to adhere too.
  • If you’re painting on metal (e.g. your handles), we recommend using a Metal Primer which will increase the adhesion of the paint.
  • If you’re wanting to use bright colours like red, bright yellow, deep blue etc. you will need to use a basecoat first. As these colours don’t have a white base their coverage isn’t as good. The Vintage Basecoat gives a flat grey foundation which will give greater vibrancy with fewer coats – win/win!

If you’re not using a furniture paint you will need to seal your item first, good options are Vintage Basecoat or Resene’s Smooth Surface Sealer.

Side tables using stainblock primer

These side tables had a lot of water stains. To prevent bleed through I painted them with the Stainblock Primer. I did a couple of coats on the legs and then more coats on the top until I could no longer see the water marks.

*Tannin bleed is when the tannins from woods such as cedar, redwood or mahogany, ‘bleed’ through to the surface. This can also happen with knots in other woods. It is natural but can produce yellow looking stains.

We hope that these tips help you to prepare your furniture for all your painting projects! We always recommend prepping properly so that you can achieve your best paint finish. 

Next up in our series it will be time to paint your item!


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