Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Painting old furniture

Cruising around blogdom these days, you see a lot of posts about "upcycling" or refinishing old furniture. Everyone makes it seems like a piece of cake. Well, I tried it and there was no cake involved. Just a lot of dust, some blue fingers, a ruined pedicure and a somewhat nicely painted bookshelf in the end.

I started with a plain oak bookcase. You know, the classic '90s yellow wood look? Yup. That's it. I fell in love with the rooms from the Pottery Barn Kids, but couldn't afford the bottom line.

Here's the end result (pardoning the unstaged books just stuffed in the shelves):

Here's what I learned ...

:: Spray paint is great for smooth surfaces, like metal, MDF or plastic. Not so great for heavily-grained woods like oak. After going through 3 cans and still missing the grain, I had to go and buy some blue paint to match. Painting with the paintbrush solved the problem.

:: Pre-sanding is a lot of work. A LOT. But worth doing a good job, since paint won't stick well to shiny surfaces. I tried to put my little slaves to work sanding, and they did good job for the most part, but missed a few spots. You get the picture.

:: You don't have to seal your project with Polyurethane, if you never want to dry dust your piece. If you do dry dust, I recommend going over it with some sealer, just to even out the rough spots. Take it from me, who didn't seal and now needs find a way to seal it in the room.

:: A project this size, with children to feed and life to live, takes about 4 days. Or two weeks if you do it the hard way, like I did.


  1. Other good to know info:
    If you're pregnant and need some "help" with this kind of project it will take more like 3 months for your hubby to find the time to "help out".

    If you crack a rib on the day your hubby is FINALLY scheduled to finish your project, you'll end up (in the ER) with a half spray painted mess all over your side yard that the under-5 crowd decides to color all over with chalk, while you're in recovery mode.

    I'm just sayin'.
    The shelf looks great! I think maybe I need to hunker down and use a paint and brush. I'd totally be done by now if I had!

  2. So cute. Need to do that. I have no where to put books right now.

  3. Do you want to come back to do my table? I'll hire you. Can we work in trade? I'll bake or something.

  4. I am a little overwhelemed by all the oak in our house. Please send a quote for shipping all your little helpers over, with sandpaper, for the week.

    Also, I don't get the sealer thing. What is the alternative to dry dusting?

  5. Now I'm no dusting efficinado, that's my sister, Rachel, but I believe some people dust with a damp rag, which would be okay on this bookshelf. But a microfiber duster? The fluffy that Honey loves? It left a trail of deeper dust on the snaggy shelf. Needs a little self-leveling sealer to fill in the uneven paint snags. Clear? As mud? Good.