Refinishing furniture is something I have done since I was a teenager. I had painted my share of bedroom walls, applied my share of wallpaper, even helped my mom strip old wallpaper, all in the name of freshening up our house without breaking the piggy bank. If my mom wanted to spruce up the house, she’d take down wallpaper, paint the walls a fresh new color, and pick up a thrifted quilt. I learned that buying store bought furniture, while easier, was not always better. Because of that, I also learned to look for quality solid wood pieces, ones that were a value but valuable. The very first piece of furniture that I ever refinished from top to bottom was a small end table that belonged to my then boyfriend, who would eventually become my husband. The end table was solid black and had a little shelf in it which he liked but being that he was about to move into his very first apartment, it was the only black piece of furniture and it really didn’t match, he decided that he was going to donate it! When I heard this, I told him to give it to me and that I’d salvage it. I sanded it down by hand, painted it ivory, and hand painted poppies on the side (hey, don’t judge, it was the late nineties and decor with Asian influence was very on trend at the time!!). He loved it and I felt empowered. This was before the age of YouTube and Google, if you wanted to learn how to properly do something, you had to check out a book or learn from someone you knew. I bought books, read magazines, and asked my mom hundreds of questions over those first few years, and those experiences shaped me into someone who lives by the adage “Do it right the first time” and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are so many trends right now in the DIY sector, matte finish, raw wood, chalk paint, waxed or water based poly… I tend to gravitate away from chalk and lean towards latex based satin finishes for their durability and stain/damage resistance as well as the reduced likelihood of immediate yellowing or bubbles. I began this antique booth endeavor knowing that I had to remain true to my sensibilities and do it right. This pair of end tables would be no exception. When I got them they were quite scratched and painted a matte black that I didn’t HATE but wasn’t in love with. I selected a lighter gray that was more on trend and more in line with my aesthetic. Here is what they looked like before I got started.
I began by vacuuming away the surface dust, debris, and the layer of thankfully vacated spiderwebs clinging to the bottom (*shudder*). Using a screwdriver, I removed the hardware from both drawers and set them aside for later.
Then, noticing several mystery-grease spots on the tops of both of them, I decided to degrease both pieces completely with denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol has many uses but, when it comes to furniture refinishing, its most often used to degrease in between sanding and layering paint, however, it is also really useful to dehydrate and degrease prior to sanding because often, if you inadvertently sand over grease or wax, it will sometimes effect the way sawdust accumulates on the sandpaper and the efficacy of that sandpaper. So if I spot grease or waxy buildup, I will quickly wipe it down with denatured alcohol because it’s just easier to head that off at the pass. Once I wiped it down and it dried completely, I hit it with medium grit sand paper, and then again with a higher grit medium sandpaper to give the piece tooth to accept new paint, and to smooth out a few fine scratches in the surface. Here is what it looked like afterwards. It only took around 20 minutes to degrease and sand both pieces.
I then hauled my trusty denatured alcohol back out and wiped down both pieces, including tops, sides, legs, and drawer fronts and left them to dry. Where starting a paint project by wiping them down is not entirely necessary every time, degreasing them before painting is imperative. It cleans away any remaining sawdust, paint dust, and debris and most importantly, it dehydrates the surface, insuring a really good bond for the primer so if you decide to tackle a paint project, don’t skip this step, it takes seconds and makes a massive difference. SO I the applied a coat of primer and let that dry for 24 hours. You can apply paint technically after only 6 hours but I just prefer to let it completely dry and cure overnight. If you want to paint sooner, hey, you do you! Knowing that I was going quite a bit darker in color, I knew I’d need at least two coats of paint (I ended up applying three coats), so I lightly sanded the primer coat, dehydrated it with D.A. and then applied my first coat of paint. At this point you simply repeat the steps until you achieve the desired finish: paint, lightly sand, dehydrate/degrease repeat. Once I got it finished, I applied a thin coat of satin finish poly. Now it was time to tackle the hardware, I will admit that it ended up being a bit ridiculous because I am quite type A and I want everything to look perfect and be usable. I intended to degrease then spray paint them a high gloss ivory however that didn’t go well because, as is sometimes the case, the brass hardware was coated in some sort of protective clear coat, the spray paint was repelled in some spots and therefore looked uneven. What’s a type-A girl to do???! Well, I soaked them in acetone, tackled them with fine grade steel wool, and scrubbed the paint and glaze off. They looked so pretty after that! Here’s a pic of them before I scrubbed them with the steel wool. The one on the left has been stripped of paint but not polished, the one on the right has been polished with steel wool, amazing right?
I busted out my handy dandy dremel and, using the polishing brush attachment, I buffed them back up and reattached them and it looks pretty great. Here is the finished product, both tables came out identical and look pretty great, if I do say so myself.
Tell me what you think! Have you ever faced the hardware conundrum? Tell me your hardware woes! Thanks for checking in with me, and as always, take time to be kind to one another.