Just about every summer my GeeGee would paint the cement floor of her back patio. It was always this glossy battleship grey. We kids loved it because when it was wet it was damn near a slip-n-slide – are those things even around anymore? There’s also a great family story about my Grumps once painting a car – with a brush and leftover house paint. Therefore, when I claim that I come from a long line of DIY painters, I’ve got legit street creds.
Back in college, furniture rehab was a necessity. I tricked out entire apartments with cast-offs, hand-me-downs, and rehabbed dumpster contents. Nowadays here in the middle-aged cheap seats, my fascination with fixer uppers is more of a hobby. It’s a genuine thrill to give something new life via a few coats of paint. Hubs once noted that I’d probably spray paint the cat if she’d let me. I’m always scourging thrift stores, estate sales, and yes even the occasional trash heap for old tables, rusty wrought iron benches, and used book shelves.
Before any wood lovers out there panic, I do have respect for antiques and I would never paint a piece that only needs a bit of cleaning and perhaps some wax or polish. My best gal pal Dani is a wooden furniture fan and I think she’s sometimes quite alarmed when she sees the spray cans emerging.
Over the years I’ve learned a few painting rehab tricks that I thought I would share. Please know that any products mentioned are not paid endorsements: it’s just stuff that’s worked well for me over the years.
Always look for good bones. You’ve got to look past chipping paint, faded upholstery, and a few scratches and dents. For example, I picked this entire patio furniture set out of a neighbor’s trash. It did need some work including lots of sanding to get rid of the flaking black finish. But after a little TLC this set now has a new home in my son’s backyard.
Prepping is key. Have I mentioned sanding? I highly recommend spending a few bucks on a sanding block (about $5, so not a big investment) or you’re going to end up with some bloody knuckles and a wreck of a manicure. It’s vital that you create a smooth, clean surface. Also, I’ve found that it’s worth the time to create a base with a product called Kilz. It comes in both a can and as spray paint. Make sure you give it plenty of time to dry – the instructions note at least 60 minutes, I give it several hours.
Sunshine and no breeze. Where you paint is equally as important as the prep. If it’s the least bit windy you’re going to waste a lot of paint. Paint in the wind, all we are is paint in the wind… you’re welcome for that little earworm. Make sure the surface is clean and dry and before you aim that nozzle at your target, test out a few sprays on the drop cloth. If the paint spurts or drips, it’s a defective can; exchange it for a new one. Trust me, this has happened to moi more than once.
My favorite product. Here’s another product tip: invest $2 and buy a spray can gun. This will be the one and only time I ever encourage anyone to purchase any kind of gun. A spray paint can gun helps distribute an even coat of paint and helps ease up on the hand cramps. Especially for us midlifers, the paint gun is a very handy tool when our hands don’t work quite as nimbly as they used to.
Buy extra paint. Chips happen. I rehab a lot of outdoor furniture and each season brings its share of wear and tear. The nice thing about painted furniture is that you can clean it, spruce it up with a few paint touch-ups, and you’re good to go for another year. Having the matching paint on hand will save you some headaches trying to find the same paint a year later. At about $4 a can, you can afford to have a few extras stashed in the garage.
Take your time. Slow and steady wins the painting race. It also might take more than one coat to get the finish you want. Don’t rush the coats or you’re going to end up with drips.
Here’s my latest little work-in-progress. Whatcha think?
Oh, and for the record, I was joking about the cat.
Are you a fan/member of the DIY tribe? What has been your favorite fixer upper project?
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Debi Lewis saysJune 28, 2016 at 10:09 am
You make it sound so easy! I have a beloved but wrecked-looking picnic table I want to paint this summer – I’m bookmarking this so I can buy everything you recommended. Thanks!
Stella Chiu saysJune 26, 2016 at 8:46 pm
I am a DIY junkie like you. Like the stuff hand- made by my hands. You make painting the furniture so easy. It is one of my challenging projects. I will follow your instruction to improve my skill
Kim Dalferes saysJune 27, 2016 at 9:50 am
Good luck Stella. It’s really not that difficult – just takes a little patience.
Suzie Cheel saysJune 25, 2016 at 3:35 pm
A spray can gun, what a great idea and i have a coffee table that needs revamping, thanks for the inspiration and joy your writing brings xox
Kimba saysJune 26, 2016 at 9:18 am
Thx Suzie. When you finish that coffee table send me a pic!
Marquita Herald saysJune 24, 2016 at 11:58 am
You’ve got me thinking Kimba. Many years ago I really loved DIY projects but over time just stopped, life got in the way I suppose. But I still love seeing how creative people can be and maybe it’s time to pick out a project to work on this summer. 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration!
Kimba saysJune 26, 2016 at 9:27 am
Good luck, would love to see what you decide to work on. I might have to do a project round-up at the end of the summer
Vicki saysJune 20, 2016 at 2:53 pm
Love the projects you take on for fun! Thanks for helpful hints. Happy renovating!
Kimba saysJune 26, 2016 at 9:33 am
Thx! Come to the lake, I won’t make you work. Well, not too much.
Rena McDaniel saysJune 20, 2016 at 11:28 am
My mom used to do this with old furniture that she found. That gene didn’t find its way to me, unfortunately.
Kimba saysJune 26, 2016 at 9:35 am
Lucky for you there are a lot of DIYers out here. We’ll happily rescue those cast-offs for you.
Roxanne Jones saysJune 20, 2016 at 10:42 am
Your post was perfectly timed! I’m planning to paint an old, beat up maple dresser, and you’ve given me motivation and inspiration to git ‘er done!
Kimba saysJune 26, 2016 at 9:41 am
Yay! Would love to know what color you plan to paint or stain it – and to see the after pics! Get ‘er done indeed.
Diane saysJune 20, 2016 at 10:18 am
I’ve never been good at this. But this is inspiring! Must. Paint. Something…
Kimba saysJune 26, 2016 at 11:10 am
Start small. Try maybe a mirror that you pick up at a thrift store. Cover the mirror part with newspaper and tape the edges tight. Then try a new favorite color – there are so many! I just helped a friend do this for her daughter’s bedroom and we painted the trim of the old mirror a bright cobalt blue. Her daughter loves it!
Haralee saysJune 20, 2016 at 9:33 am
I like your projects and the cat’s attitude. I never thought of a gun in a spray can. Thanks for the tips.
Kimba saysJune 26, 2016 at 11:15 am
Honestly, that spray paint gun will save you A LOT of time and effort. Wishing you lots of fun projects in your future.
email@example.com saysJune 20, 2016 at 9:22 am
It’s amazing what a little paint can do.
I love what you did Kim!
Kimba saysJune 26, 2016 at 11:24 am
Thx! Have spray paint, will travel.
Carla saysJune 20, 2016 at 9:07 am
Husband just left town for the week. The child and I are searching for adventures. there’s lots of touch ups to be done around here… You may have given me a big idea 🙂
Kimba saysJune 26, 2016 at 11:30 am
Ooohhhh…. I like the sound of a big idea. And painting with kids is a great idea – they love to see tangible results of their work. Heck, we all love that!