Well folks, I did it. I finished painting the faux bamboo cocktail I picked up at my local Habitat for Humanity: ReStore! And I LOVE it! The biggest challenge was getting paint into all of those nooks and crannies. I ended up having to use a teeny tiny brush, the sort meant for painting on canvas, and contorting myself into backbreaking positions. Alright, that's being a little overly dramatic. Certain stages of the process were so tedious and downright annoying that I started questioning why I ever started this whole thing in the first place.
If you've ever taken on refinishing anything bigger than a table lamp then you know as well as I do that there are four distinct mental stages to all furniture refinishing projects:
1. Delusional Enthusiasm - "This is going to turn out SO amazing and it'll be SO fun!"
2. Plucky Determination - "Ok, so sanding is a total pain but it'll be SO worth it when I see my gorgeous table finished."
3. Total Animalistic Rage - "Argh - another drip??!" "Why is Abby's nose blue?" - "Why didn't I just rent a sprayer?" - "SARAH SMASH!"
4. Resignation - "It's definitely not going to be perfect but I'm going to finish what I started, even if it kills me. Which it probably will."
Fortunately, it really was all worth it when I saw the finished product:
These next two photos are where I got a little creative with some of the features in Picnik. If you haven't tried it out yet, upload some photos and get cracking! It's free and makes a BIG difference! I've heard the "airbrushing" feature comes in handy when editing self portraits. I've heard.
I love the injection of bold color in this room. It's just what it needed! Although now I'm thinking that a new area rug could be a good idea. That investment is going to have to wait a while.
What do you think?
If you'd like to know how I went about taking my table from this:
Then read on.
First I gave it a good cleaning with some regular household cleaner. You'll definitely want something containing a degreasing agent. I've come across all sorts of "resides", bits of stuck on food and whatnot in various thrifted furniture pieces. You need to get all that gunk completely off before doing anything else. If you're sanding down to bare wood (I didn't in this case because I planned on painting, not staining) an orbital sander would also do the trick.
Next I used a wood filler to patch up spots where the veneer had chipped off and any deep gouges and scrapes. Just spread it on with a putty knife and scrape off the excess. Once dried, sand until nice and totally smooth with the surface.
Now it's time to sand. How much sanding depends on how you will refinish the piece. If you plan on painting, you will probably be able to get away with a light sanding just to roughen up the surface so it will accept primer and paint. If you're staining with a wood stain you will need to sand to raw or bare wood. It is important to remove all traces of the previous finish before ever applying a touch of new stain. Any areas with remnants of the previous stain will not accept the new stain in the same way as the areas you sanding completely down. The final result will not have the same finish throughout the piece and will wind up looking funny. I learned this the hard way with my dining table. There are a few areas I couldn't quite get to with the orbital sander and instead of hand sanding like a good girl, I skimped and it shows. One day soon I'll have to resand and restain all over again.
After sanding, clean off the piece with a damp cloth to remove all that sawdust. Make sure you remove it completely.
Now comes primer (if you're painting). I love this spray primer. Just spray it on and be done with it. So easy. I do a couple of coats usually but it's not necessary that every inch of the piece be 100% covered in primer.
Finally we paint. If I had this table to do all over again, I'd have sucked it up and rented the paint sprayer for $80 and called it a day. I happen to be cheap. I also have a nasty habit of overestimating my level of project patience and underestimating how much work will actually be required. I ended up brushing on my paint using an angled brush for the top and larger areas. For the intricate details I had to use a small artists brush which took an entire weekend to finish. No lie it was ridiculous. One note: don't skimp on the quality of brush you use. Cheap brushes will result in a poor quality finish. Every time. Invest in a high quality brush, take good care of it and it will last you through many a project.
Apply paint in light, even coats. Be patient (hello? pot?) and resist the urge to goop on thick coats and cover it all in one fell swoop. Several light coats that are allowed to dry completely in between applications will get you the very best final result.
Once the table is painted and completely dried (this can take up to 72 hours depending on temps & humidity) you can apply a protective coating if you choose. For a piece that will get lots of use and abuse, you will want to protect your hard work. I like a wipe-on poly. It's easy to apply and a great way to avoid those nasty visible brush strokes. Make sure you allow this to dry completely before putting the furniture piece into use. There's nothing worse than getting a dent or scrape in your beautiful new finish that you worked so hard on. Be patient.
There you go, that's my process for cleaning, sanding, priming and painting a thrift store rescue.