It's always necessary to clean and repair furniture before the painting process begins. Repairing furniture is often the most time consuming part of any furniture makeover.
There is always something wrong with used furniture. No way around it. It's important to clean and repair furniture before painting and the paint process will go much smoother.
I write a lot of posts on painting furniture and I usually share most if not all of the makeover details. But I guess I’ve been leaving out some important info.
A nice lady named Marsha sent me an email and this is part of what she had to say……”one question I never seem to see addressed all over Pinterest on how-to pages is whether or not a particular project required the original piece to be sanded or stripped of varnish”.
Huh, I don’t know about all over Pinterest, but I haven’t been including that info in my posts. I replied to Marsha’s email with the prep details for the particular project she asked about. Since I’ve been remiss……. this post is about things I do to prep furniture for painting.
The wardrobe is one of my great deals from the Nashville Flea Market. I started work on this piece Sunday, so I took photos as I was doing the prep work on it.
All furniture projects are different. What needs repairing on one piece may be fine on another. There will be major differences in vintage furniture and newer furniture because they are made differently.
As you’ve probably noticed on your own furniture, sometimes a furniture drawer fits better in one slot than it does in another. And paint on the drawer edges will make them fit differently too.
I usually see where a drawer fits best before the painting begins and then number the back so I know exactly where it goes when the painting is done.
I started doing this after I ran into problems. When you have a dresser with 9 drawers and they all only fit best in one slot......well, you can guess how long it takes to get them in the right spot.
Next comes the cleaning. Most of the pieces I buy have been around for a while and they are dirty….inside and out. I use a shop vac and vacuum the whole thing top to bottom, back to front, inside and out.
Don’t forget the bottom. Usually there are spider eggs, cobwebs, dirt dauber nests, and other nasty things hanging out there.
Then I clean the furniture with Simple Green….in all the places I vacuumed. It is a time consuming process. The actual painting takes no time at all.
The vacuum gets the loose stuff and the Simple Green gets all the other stuff. It’s easy to see how dusty the wardrobe was by looking at where I’ve already wiped it down. I clean the outside and the inside of the drawers too.....sides, back, bottom…..every surface.
Repairs may be needed before painting. In one small area of the wardrobe the veneer was pulling away from the door front. Have to fix that.
The thing about most preparation work is there are no fancy tools required. You probably have just what you need in your junk drawer or tool box already.
How To Prepare Furniture Before Painting Tips And Tricks
I pushed some wood glue under the veneer with a craft stick (popsicle stick) then used these cute little clamps to hold the veneer down while the glue dried. I’ve also used toothpicks, tweezers, flat tip screwdrivers…..whatever works to get the glue where I need it. When the clamps go on the excess glue is pushed out. I wipe the glue off with a damp paper towel.
The veneer on the top was a little bubbled and broken up with some pieces missing.
Now here is where I have to decide weather to..... peel all the veneer off, glue and clamp down what veneer is there, fill it in with putty, or do something else.
In this case since it was on the top and it’s a very tall piece and I was going to rough it up anyway after painting......I didn’t do anything to it.
The paint will adhere the loose pieces to the top and for this particular piece, that’s good enough for me.
This wardrobe was in pretty good shape, sometimes more in-depth and time consuming repairs are involved.
There were a few deep scratches on the details so I smoothed them a little with 100 grit sandpaper.
I didn’t make them disappear, just made them a little less noticeable. They were too deep to sand all the way down. I could always add wood filler and smooth them out. This project didn't call for that.
Next I removed the drawer pulls and used steel wool to smooth the impression left by the pull. I always remove drawer pulls and knobs before painting.
I do not remove doors and hinges before painting unless I absolutely need to. I have had fits trying to get hinges, screws, and doors to line up properly after painting. So I no longer remove them!
The last step before painting is to tape off areas you don’t want painted. I used Frog Tape for this project.
Where there are door openings such as on this piece, I tape off an area inside to paint the same color as the piece. There will be a nice smooth straight edge.
I want have to worry about bare wood peeking under and around the door or ugly uneven paint on the inside when the door is opened.
I also tape off the drawer pull hole on the interior so paint will not leak inside when I paint the drawer front. Always tape the top and sides of the drawers for a nice straight line, and paint up to the tape. I think that’s about it….at least for this piece. I’m ready to start painting!!
Ok, now for the disclaimer…do I always, vacuum, clean, glue, tape, etc., etc., etc., every piece of furniture I paint…….NO. Sometimes I paint right over the dirt and I brush paint willy-nilly on the inside surfaces, not using tape or straight edges. Gasp!
It depends on the furniture and the finish. If it is going to be a rustic highly distressed piece I may not do any furniture prep. If it is a custom order for a client I am going to prep, prep, prep.
update! This piece is painted now. Not sure I like the outcome at all. Take a look and tell me what you think. It's okay of you don't like it just be kind in your comments. See it here....Color Block Furniture.
Tomorrow I have a new paint project to share. It's also Furniture Fixer Upper Day. As always thanks for being here and have a great day, Kathy
Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com