Staining, stripping and whitewashing, oh my! If you would like to revamp a well-loved old piece of furniture but are not sure where to start, this manual is for you. Here you will find tips for when to use what technique, along with some invaluable how-to advice.
1. Strip finishes. This is not an easy task and definitely is not advisable for anybody with respiratory issues to tackle — but aside from those caveats, stripping your own old furniture may save you money and produce good outcomes.
Tools of the trade: Chemical stripper (note the faster-acting strippers will also be the most poisonous), solvent respirator with new filters, safety goggles, chemical-resistant gloves, work apron, brushes, scrapers and steel wool.
How-to: Move the piece to an outdoor location or well-ventilated garage and remove any hardware. It is crucial to protect yourself from the caustic fumes of a chemical stripper (see the list of safety equipment above).
After you brush the stripper, the paint must start to bubble up. Use a scraper or steel wool to remove the layers of paint. Afterward, be sure to give the piece a coat of mineral spirits or denatured alcohol to remove traces of this stripper.
2. Stain wood tables and seats. For those who have an old solid wood piece of furniture, then look at staining rather than painting it to show off the wood grain. The walnut dining table shown here was a Craigslist locate — it had been initially orange, along with the homeowners stripped it and gave it a lovely dark end.
Tools of the trade: Sandpaper, wood conditioner, rubber or nitrile gloves, wood stain, soft fabric and polyurethane varnish.
How-to: Starting with stripped wood, smooth the slice with vacuum and sandpaper or rub away all dust. Implementing wood conditioner will help the finish proceed more evenly.
Rub the wood stain evenly using a soft fabric (you may want to use a number of coats) and finish with a coat of polyurethane.
3. Reupholster a classic. Taking on an upholstery project takes some significant DIY skills — but if you’re patient and prepared to learn, it may be carried out. Andrea Mihalik of the reupholstery biz Wild Chairy learned her craft by studying an upholstery book and recommends that potential DIYers do exactly the same.
Tips: Take photos at every step as you take apart your seat; save the first cloth pieces to use as a pattern.
When to find an expert: as soon as your bit has structural issues or uncomfortable springs. A pro can completely rebuild your chair … maybe not something the average person ought to try in your home.
Watch our interview with Mihalik for much more seat makeovers and DIY upholstering tips.
How to Work With an Upholsterer
Studio Marcelo Brito
4. Whitewashing, liming and pickling. You can achieve a faded, cursory appearance using lots of methods. What they all have in common is they lighten wood whilst still allowing the grain to show through.
Tools of the trade: Brass or copper wool or brush, sandpaper, liming wax, liming alternative or primer, soft rags and very clear wax or clear polyurethane.
How-to: Rough up the wood using a copper or brass brush to allow the whitewash to stick better. Sandpaper and vacuum the face or wipe the dust away.
To lighten the wood, you may use liming wax, liming wash or a way of primer and water, working it in with a rag. If you’re using wax, remove excess wax with fine steel wool and seal the surface with wax. If you’re using primer or liming alternative, wipe off the excess with a rag. When the piece is dry, then seal it with a coating of polyurethane.
5. Milk paint. The most natural type of paint on the current market, true milk paint is really made out of milk; it comes in powder form and you mix up the paint yourself. It is nontoxic, comes in a wonderful range of customizable colors and functions on unfinished or finished wood surfaces.
Tools of the trade: Buckets and stir sticks for blending, paintbrushes and shed fabric.
Rethink Design Studio
6. Latex and oil paints. First, which to select? Latex paints have the distinct advantage of being water soluble, which means cleanup is as simple as dunking your tools in a bucket of water.
Oil-based paint necessitates taking more safety measures: The fumes imply it is best to work outside; harsh chemical solvents are needed for cleanup; also you must bring all leftovers to a hazardous waste center. The advantages of oil-based paints are better coverage and, some say, richer colors.
Tools of the trade: Fall cloths, sandpaper, mini foam rollers, painter’s tape, primer, latex or oil paint, and solvent for oil paint.
How-to: Eliminate all hardware and drawers, and set the piece up on bricks or wood blocks on top of a drop cloth. Sand lightly and wipe out dust. Tape off the edges of the drawers as needed with painter’s tape. Give the piece a coat of primer and allow it to dry.
For painting, then use a small roller to get a smooth program without adhesive lines. Start at the top and work your way down; let the paint dry thoroughly between coats.
7. Spray paint. For outdoor furniture, nothing beats a couple of coats of spray paint. Decide on a formula created for outdoor furniture, and it will stand up well to the elements.
Tools of the trade: Outside furniture spray paint, rubber gloves, painter’s mask and fall fabric.
How-to: Gently wash the furniture, scrubbing off scuffs and rust, and let it dry thoroughly. Wear rubber gloves and a painter’s mask while spray painting. Working outside on a drop cloth, spray on the furniture with even strokes. A number of light coats will provide even coverage with no a lot of drips.
Caitlin Wilson Design
8. Re-cover a seat cushion. Unlike a complete reupholstery job, re-covering a seat cushion is a relatively simple and gratifying project.
Tools of the trade: Staple gun, new cloth and foam or batting.
How-to: Unscrew the seat cushion from the seat. Eliminate the old cloth and use it as a template to cut new fabric. If the batting or foam cushion is very worn, replace it. Wrap the new cloth over the seat and use a staple gun to attach it. Screw the seat back in place.
Step-by-step directions: How to Re-Cover a Chair Cushion