Prepping Your Pieces

Prepping your Pieces
So, you are obviously starting the journey of furniture upcycling to be reading this and are interested in gaining as much information as you can before making a start with prepping your furniture pieces.  This blog is a quick rundown all about how important it is to prep your DIY (do it yourself) pieces.  It is also a step that shouldn’t be skipped or neglected.  Your current surface on the piece will also be your surface, so if the surface is on the crappy side, unfortunately paint won’t completely fix that, and it will be your surface too. 
You’ll need to do any surface prep first, such as sanding off any previous paint runs (particularly if previously painted), sanding any flaky lacquered surfaces, and filling in any chips, dints and/or blemishes with putty (or filler).  There are many putties and fillers available – even the furniture wax sticks are great for covering up little scratches.  The repairs that require putty do need to be sanded to a smooth surface.  Repairs to any feet, drawers, backs etc all need to be done in this step.  If you are going to be using different hardware (ie handles/pulls) you should think about this at this step as you may need to fill in some of those holes as well.  Giving your piece a light overall sand will help give good paint adhesion.  
If you are staining the top or leaving it as raw wood, it is best to have all this figured out at this step.  Make sure when sanding back to raw timber that you go over it when finished sanding/stripping with a fine sanding pad to knock off all the fluffy timber bits from sanding/stripping.
Giving your piece a good clean is your next step.  If you use sugar soap, you may want to bear in mind that it does sometimes leave a residue and the paint may not stick.  I know some brands will have issues sticking if it’s been cleaned with sugar soap - even if it’s wiped off afterwards.  In my opinion, you are best of leaving cleaners and chemicals out of the picture and leaving a clean surface, free of chemical residue.  Your best cleaners are water, dishwashing detergent and good old vinegar combined with muscle power.  Having said that, I do recommend Pureco’s Brush Cleaner.  It is a great furniture cleaner and free of nasty chemicals (therefore perfect for grey water and septic systems).  It also won’t break the budget either and is perfect for cleaning your paint brushes.
Priming (or undercoat) is an essentially important step to consider when doing your upcycling projects.  Especially important if you are wanting to paint white.  White is always a modern, in colour and perfect for the Hamptons décor and styling - but does require more work than other colours due to coverage.  So, if you’re ever doing white, use a primer for sure.  It will also help reduce the white coats required.  Using a grey primer under white is also better again or tinting your white primer with a little black paint will also do the trick.  Having a primer that is a tannin blocker is another good thing to remember.  Furniture pieces that are dark stained, old or Indonesian can be bleeders and there’s nothing worse than spending all that time painting something and you get bleed through.  Bleeding comes through in patches of pinkish, yellowish, brownish and even green blotches.  It can also come through in the appearance like wax drops have been spilt on a piece.  Even sometimes when you’ve blocked a piece, it still may bleed.  If this happens, you can just block that area again and paint.  Depending on the brand, you can also use some sealers to act as a barrier to stop bleed through as well which is very effective.
With regards to priming (or undercoat), this coat will always look messy and like a hot mess.  You haven’t wrecked it.  Keep painting.  Primer is best described as transparent coverage - it is a little see through if that makes sense, so don’t be put off by the terrible looking first coat.
You should do a little research on the brands you are going to be using as well.  For example, I am a stockist of Pureco Paint and for the Silk Range (or Mineral Paint) it is recommended by the manufacturer that you use their base and blocker (or primer) as the two products work best together.  In time you will also get to know what works best and when using a particular brand all the time, this helps because you get to know what it is capable of.  That old saying, practice makes perfect rings true.
For laminate surfaces, give it a little bit of grip by giving a sand and using a product from Bunnings called ESP.  Follow the instructions and then paint.  This product helps your paint stick to the laminate.  For surfaces that are super shiny, veneer, glass, metal etc - they can all be painted.  Chalk Paint (and Mineral Paint) will pretty much cover most surfaces.  If you’re ever not sure, do a test patch.  Then when dry, seal that test patch and then when fully dry do a scratch test by literally scratching it to see how well it has adhered.  Sample pots are a great place to start experimenting with different brands will also help you quickly decide what you do and do not like with paints.  It will also let you know if prefer chalk paint more or mineral paint as there is a bit of a difference between these two furniture paints.
Another good thing to ask and consider is what colour base your paint colour has.  For example, if your chosen colour has a clear base, expect full coverage to be a much slower process and more coats will be required.  Some colours are better than others with regards to coverage.  Sometimes a nice neutral soft beige tone will have full coverage with 2 and a bit coats.  Depending on the brand, most times black is done with 2 and a bit coats.  By ‘2 and a bit coats’ I mean you may have to paint those little bits that don’t have full coverage when fully dry, but the rest is perfect.
In closing, here are some tips to remember –
- No two pieces will ever be the same.
- Choosing the right colour for the piece is equally important.
- Primer (undercoat) is an important step.
- The orange pine furniture is a safe go to.
- Appliqués offer a great coverup of old handle holes if you’re getting new handles.
- If it is an older piece of furniture, be alerted that you can’t always match the screw hole width with handles made today.
If you are needing any prepping materials, I stock and recommend Pureco Paints which is Australian made.  These products are all water based, no nasty smells and very easy to use.  To check these products out, please check out my website.  Of course, if you are still unsure, please don’t hesitate in contacting me and happy painting!