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linguaphile's avatar

I want to paint my old furniture. How do I get optimal results?

Asked by linguaphile (13587 points ) June 15th, 2012

I would like to paint several pieces of old furniture—a table, end table, coffee table, etc. I don’t want to stain them, but want to paint with bright colors.

I tried to paint one table with acrylic paint- it was a disaster.

What’s the best type of paint to use on furniture that will be used frequently?

What things should I know before I start?

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13 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Use a fine grain sand paper first, then make sure you have completely cleaned off all the dust and oil. It might be a good idea to use a detergent on it. (wood)

Consult one of the many internet sites available for tips and ideas for refinishing/repainting furniture.

jca's avatar

Use a primer. Primer will look streaky at first. @YARNLADY gave good suggestions about cleaning it and doing a light sanding before primer. I don’t agree you should use detergent on it though. Detergent might dry with a film, which would affect how the paint would adhere. Just use water and a rag, wipe it all down, let it dry, maybe a light sanding, prime and paint.

YARNLADY's avatar

@jca True, I was thinking of a degreaser.

jca's avatar

@YARNLADY: I think if it were somewhat greasy or had nicotine on it, a light sanding and primer would do the trick. If it had major grease, like kitchen cabinets, there’s something that pros use, which is a cleaner that’s named 3 letters, like TDK or something like that. I think it begins with a T. It’s a serious degreaser, and it’s in Home Depot. It’s for grease like if you’re painting cabinets that have built up grease on them.

Ponderer983's avatar

Sand them down first as @YARNLADY mentioned and wipe it. Then you can apply any color you want. You may want to make it 3 coats to make sure it is even. I would then use a water-based polyurethane sealer once the paint is completely dry to protect the furniture. Happy painting!

josie's avatar

The key is a well prepared substrate. Any materials that may be oxidized, degraded, peeling, or in any other state of progressive deterioration must be removed by scraping, sanding, dissolving and or all of the above. In most cases like yours, go to bare wood. Sand smooth, prime and paint. I would use enamel paint. Furniture refinishing is like battle. Preparation is everything.

majorrich's avatar

Make sure all the old finish is removed. We have had some chairs dipped to remove all the other attempts of painting before refinishing. Use a filler to reduce the grain that will show. Sand, sand and then when you think it’s smooth enough, sand one more time using finer and finer grit with each pass. Use a tack cloth then start applying your new finish.

anartist's avatar

@jca do you mean MEK Methyl Ethyl Ketone?
[Among other things . . .] MEK also is used as a solvent for fats, oils, waxes and resins. It is a highly efficient and versatile solvent for surface coatings. [etc]

jca's avatar

@anartist: I just googled and found out what it is. I knew it began with a T! it’s called TSP – trisodium phosphate.

linguaphile's avatar

@everyone I did a Google search to find out how to do this, but most of the instructions I can find are video-based and they are not subtitled so I can’t access them, which is the main reason why I asked. Also, most of the sites do not talk much about the preparation that @josie and @majorrich said was necessary.

I knew something was missing because I started to paint a table, primed the heck out of it, but the paint still didn’t stick—clearly I need to do the preparation.

@majorrich How do you ‘dip’ chairs?

Thank you all for your replies—- every bit of information’s helpful!!

augustlan's avatar

Here is a written tutorial that tells you an easier way to paint furniture, using liquid sandpaper. (I’d only use that if the finish is in decent shape… if it’s got stuff to even out, use regular sandpaper.) Here’s a more thorough one, that says you may not need to sand at all, if you use the right kind of primer.

Some tips I’ve gathered from Pinterest.com include:
Use an oil based primer, followed by a latex paint (many recommend adding Floetrol to the paint to thin it and slow drying time), followed by water-based poly, lightly sanding with fine grit sandpaper or a brown paper bag between coats.

I’ve painted some furniture before I really knew what I was doing, and it all turned out fine. Good luck!

rooeytoo's avatar

Sand, wipe off with alcohol (has the least effect on the grain of the wood) and prime then paint. As @josie said, prep is the most important. Primer is a MUST!

majorrich's avatar

Actually I have never watched them dip any of the furniture we had done. I took it there and it was all dark and yucky. Came back in a few days and it was much lighter and all smooth. Alas, I had to re-glue a number of places as antique furniture often used animal products as glue and apparently this was dissolved by whatever they dipped it in. I have an old Victrola that has the same leper skin look I am considering giving the works to, but the wife unit is resistant.

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