We all love that "Shabby Chic" look of painted, distressed furniture. And painting old furniture is a great way to get a fresh, new, unified look from mismatched garage sale finds or hand-me-downs. Here are some shortcuts for making quick work of your next furniture painting spree:
Shortcut 1: Don't sand off the varnish before you paint
I never sand off varnish. Why bother? Today's primers are such good stain blockers, they will cover anything. Twice I have had the old finish bleed through. I let it dry, applied a second coat of primer, & it didn't come through again.
The best primers are Glidden Gripper or Kilz - you can get them at Home Depot or pretty much anywhere you buy household (wall) paint - Eagle Hardware, Ace, etc.
I love that new "Trash to Treasure" show. But it drives me crazy to see those people painstakingly sanding off old finishes. Get with the 90's! (That's when the rest of us stopped sanding.) Use a stain blocking primer - BIN Kilz or Glidden Gripper are the best.
Shortcut 2: Make a "Dunking Station"
This guide will show you how to create a "Dunking Station" where you can dunk smaller items in paint, then go eat bon bons and watch another episode of SG1 on the TIVO while all your eBay "trash to treasure" goodies are hanging dry.
Shortcut 3: Buy Disposable Brushes & Supplies
Cleanup isn't fun. So I buy all my brushes, sponge brushes, paint trays, drop cloths (LOTS of drop cloths!), etc. by the dozens at either the "Dollar Tree" dollar store or at "Big Lots".
Then I have no cleanup - just toss them. Big Lots has packs of 5 brushes plus a paint tray for a buck, or a pack of 3 rollers plus a tray for a buck. Awesome!
Use a tray liner on the big paint trays - then you can just toss it along with your other disposable brushes & rollers.
Shortcut 4: Add Texture
Use a natural sea sponge and a slightly different shade of paint to add texture & age to your item. This technique also covers drips, runs, etc.
Shortcut 5: Use a large roller on a broomstick
I use a large roller (the kind for walls) on a broomstick (the kind with threads - they screw onto your roller) whenever I can - tops of dressers, dresser drawer fronts, cabinet doors, etc. Then I fill in the missed spots with a smaller roller.
You wouldn't think this makes a huge difference, but it really does save a LOT of time - try it! The added reach and the larger roller surface really makes work fly.
I stock a large supply of throwaway roller covers and tray liners - bought 3/$1 at Big Lots - then I don't feel bad about using one for just a small table or chair.
Shortcut 6: Put a Paper Plate under your can of paint
This catches drips. Of course you're using a plastic drop cloth, but without the plate, each time you move the can you leave a puddle of paint on the dropcloth for someone to track around or slip on.
Shortcut 7: Double Paper Cups
For small touchup or accent paint jobs, keep a supply of little paper cups on hand.
Dip the paint you need out of your can with one cup, wipe most of the paint off the bottom of the cup on the edge of the can, and slide a clean cup over the bottom of the messy cup. This keeps your hand/gloves clean.
Then throw the whole mess away when you're done.
Shortcut 8: Dust it with Spray Primer
If you're having trouble getting primer to stick well to a surface (for example, teflon baking pans, metal trays, etc) give them a very light dusting with a spray primer first. this "roughs up" the surface.
Shortcut 9: Save your brain
Always Always Always use a good quality spray mask (the kind with the 2 screw on canisters) when using spray paint - and ALWAYS do it outside (not in the garage).
Exposure to even small amounts of the fumes from spray paint causes instant brain damage! My husband is a Mental Health Therapist and he learned this at a continuing education seminar. No joke.
Do a Google search for "spray paint and brain damage". Can you say DEMENTIA? It's quite sobering. Tell your friends.
Shortcut 10: Use Glue to Crackle It
Did you know that the expensive "crackle medium" you buy in cans is really just plain old white (elmer's) glue? Any white glue will work just like the really expensive stuff in cans. This technique is great for covering up flaws.