Painting Wood Furniture

Painting wood furniture can be done by even an amateur. Follow these simple instructions for a perfect refinishing job.

Solid wood furniture, if taken care of properly, will last a lifetime, even generations. Imagine a treasured piece of furniture that has found its way from your grandmother's attic into your possession, but the shade or color isn't quite right for your d├ęcor. Stripping, staining and refinishing are optional, but they are messy, time consuming and difficult. Painting can be done by an amateur who needs only to collect the right tools for the job: paintbrushes (at least three), primer, paint, polyurethane, mixing sticks, newspaper or drop cloths, and cleaning products (a sponge, soap and water).

Painting a piece of wood furniture, like any worthy project, begins with the necessary preparation. First, thoroughly clean the furniture with soap and water. For dressers, nightstands or anything with drawers, take out the drawers and clean them as well. Leave drawers to be painted outside the dresser. Tables can be painted with or without the legs attached, but clean up and down the legs. Clean all surfaces or parts that will be painted.

After the furniture is clean and completely dry, the surfaces will need to be primed. Bonding primer is the best material to use. If the furniture has a very glossy finish, the bonding primer will attach itself to the finish and provide a good base for the paint; still, it never hurts to sand down the finish a bit, just to help the primer do its job. Remember, always use primer in a well-ventilated location. Brush the primer onto the surface of the wood, just as you would with paint. Brush it into any designs in the wood or nooks and crannies. After the entire piece is covered in a coat of primer, allow it to dry for at least four hours. Depending on the color of the original wood and the color of the new paint, two coats of primer may be necessary. The second coat should be applied exactly like the first and then left to dry for four hours. The furniture surface that has been primed will now have a dry, chalky texture.

The next step is the fun part: choosing the paint color. Paint stores, hardware stores, home improvement stores, discount stores and even some department stores carry an abundance of colors in many shades and tones. Choose a color that will compliment the room in which the furniture will sit. Glossy paint should generally be used on furniture, unless you're going for a specific weathered look or doing layered painting. The paint will be brushed on with a different paintbrush than that one used for the primer. Paint the entire piece in one sitting and the fronts of any drawers or extra pieces at the same time. As with the primer, wait at least four hours before painting the second coat. It often helps to sit drawers upright on their backs and paint just the front surface, since the front is the only part that will show.

After your piece of furniture has been given a fresh coat of glossy new paint, you can add any special touches you might like: painted artwork, texturing, sponging, or even just new, pretty door knobs or drawer handles. Have fun with your furniture. You're limited only by what's in your imagination.

After the paint has dried, there is one more important step. Wait at least 24 hours and then with yet another paintbrush, paint all horizontal surfaces with a polyurethane finish. The entire piece of furniture can be coated in this finish, but it is necessary only on surface tops of cabinets, dressers, nightstands and especially tables. Always wait at least 24 hours between coats of polyurethane. Two coats are sufficient, but three is fine for an even thicker, glossier finish.

Lastly, this entire process isn't limited to solid wood furniture. Pressed or process wood can be primed, painted and finished in exactly the same way and look just as elegant.

Once you've finished painting your special piece of wood furniture, you'll find it is a project that pleases and lasts for many years. Be proud of your accomplishment!

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