Tips for starting furniture upcycling…
So, we all need a little help at times. We’re all at different stages in our journey and I thought I’d share a few tips to get you started with upcycling furniture. You will get on a roll with this hobby and if you’re not careful, every piece of furniture and home décor item in the house could get painted.
My go to pieces for upcycling are the orange pine pieces. You can almost always paint straight over the orange pine. A good question to ask yourself is what is the style going to be? There are numerous styles out there – Shabby Chic, Industrial, Edwardian, Vintage, Farmhouse, Hampton’s, Beachy, Retro, Sleek … you get the idea. Does the upcycling style you have in mind, fit with the piece?
If you have a piece and you want to do something with it but aren’t sure exactly what. Head over to Pinterest and type in the search the name of the piece (for example hutch). This will help you get lots of ideas pumping. YouTube is also another great source of knowledge. It’s a good idea to know roughly what you’re going to start with. Creativity will then take over and lead you. There are also lots of great groups available on social media platforms that offer lots of friendly advice for free – sometimes you must put yourself out there and ask. Ask as many questions as possible – and ask a variety of people. I also highly recommend doing a Workshop if you’re still not 100% sure – or maybe you are person who learns by doing. Many small businesses run Workshops (as do I), so this is also another great idea.
When you first paint a piece, your first few coats will look crappy. This is completely normal and isn’t a reflection on you that you can’t paint. Whites particularly will take a good 3-4 coats at least until you start to see good coverage. Your Base and Blocker (or Primer) will also look like it is not good. Depending on the brand, most times one coat will suffice, and it will honestly look like a dog’s breakfast. It will look like a painting from kindergarten. Fear not because a few more coats of perseverance and you’ll start to see it take shape. Some colours have terrific coverage, and you can be done in two- and a-bit coats. Good quality paints will be your friend here.
Trying different brands of paint is a good thing. There are a few furniture paints available out there (for example Milk Paint, Chalk Paint and Mineral Paint) and you will soon start to see and feel what you do and do not like. We are all different and we all have our perks. One thing I do recommend with paint is if you are painting furniture, please use furniture paint. Wall paint is for walls, just like car paint is for cars. Each paint has individual ingredients specifically for that purpose, so please keep that in mind. A $2 mis-tint from the hardware may seem like a bargain but isn’t always the best option.
My last tip to help you with upcycling furniture, would be to practice! That old saying that practice makes perfect … well it is true. This is how you learn. When we make mistakes, we can learn from it. Each piece to paint is also different from the last. Grab little pieces and start practising. Some ideas of small pieces to start with can be photo frames, trays, small drawers, small coffee tables, plant stands, word cut outs, old casement windows etc. Home décor items can be greatly transformed with a coat of paint and some creativity. When you feel like more of a challenge, up the size and go for a bedside, a chair, a filing cabinet, a blanket box and so on. In doing this, you’ll also get a feel for what you like.
Your imagination is your biggest weapon, but here are a few things you will find very handy to help you get started with upcycling: -
- Water, dishwashing liquid and vinegar are all you really need for cleaning your pieces.
- Sandpaper in various grits – fine, medium and course. Trust me, you’ll use them all.
- An orbital sander is a good all-round sander to start with. Here is the link to the one I have - https://www.bunnings.com.au/ozito-230w-random-orbital-sander_p6290233
- A detail sander is a fab little tool to quickly distress if you’re wanting to do shabby chic styling. It also gets it done in a fraction of the time. They’re a good small size and not heavy when working. Trust me and get a cordless. Here is a link to the great little tool I have (once again, Ozito) - https://www.bunnings.com.au/ozito-pxc-18v-detail-sander-skin only_p6290475
- PVC glue and liquid nails (you’ll need a Caulking Gun for the liquid nails).
- A good brush – I use and recommend Cling On for many reasons, but in short, they don’t shred, leave minimal brush marks and they’ll last you forever. They’re a great investment and oh, you’ll need a few brushes and different sizes.
- A blow dryer will help you get the job done quicker!
- A water spray bottle. By spraying your brush in between coats, it will help minimise brush marks.
- Baby wipes come in so handy!
- Disposable gloves are great when glazing or dark waxing.
- Rags such as lint free materials (old t shirts) and chux cloths are super handy. I say lint free because if you’re waxing, the last thing you want is a fluffy rag!
- Furniture Dolly’s! You sit your furniture on these while painting and they’ll help you move your furniture around easily. The large rectangular size from Bunnings are a great asset - https://www.bunnings.com.au/syneco-580-x-290-x-100mm-movers-dolly_p3962033
- A good base and blocker (or primer) should always be on this list.
- A small collection of tools! Girls need their tools too. Cordless Drill/Screw gun, needle nose pliers, a small adjustable spanner, stanley knife, tin snips, screwdriver set with Flat and Phillips heads, a hammer, handsaw, measuring tape, hex keys, earmuffs, eye protection, a square. This list can be rather endless (lol).
If you’re needing any help, I am only a call or message away! I have all the DIY goodies for your furniture upcycling and am fully stocked with Chalk Paint, Mineral Paints, Cling On Brushes, Decoupage Papers, Redesign with Prima Transfers, Stencils, Appliques and all the finishing products required for upcycling. If you’re still not 100% sure, you may want to join me on my Intro to Furniture Painting Workshop. My workshops are hands on, and we go through all the steps from start to finish.
I encourage you to have a look through my website. You’ll find most of the goodies I’ve mentioned in this blog post here - https://www.blessedvintage.com.au/