After browsing the internet for inspiration for a project, I got the distinct feeling that I HAVE TO customize an old upholstered chair using paint for an upcoming shoot.
Before trying my hand at upholstered fabric though, I thought it might be prudent to start with something a little easier. I chose this piece from home: An old dresser which was a hand-me-down from my parents, that they picked up at a thrift-store or auction.
The materials I used are:
Not shown above: I also grabbed a j-cloth for the waxing step, which you will see later.
Once you have everything prepped, it's actually a really simple process. 1) Wash down your furniture and dry it. I just gave it a good soapy sponge-down and rinsed, then dried it with a towel.
Tape off any areas you absolutely, categorically DON'T want painted. Just in case, I would actually take the 2.5 minutes to tape off anything you aren't sure if you want painted or not. Better take the steps before than try to remove it later.
One tip I found really helpful was to stretch an elastic band over the can vertically, to give you somewhere to wipe off the excess paint from the brush. It helped keep things pretty clean, and also was a nice spot to rest the brush between sections, or when moving around the furniture.
Second, I started with the first coat. I began painting at the side of the piece, and created nice margins and edges, which I found helpful to creating nice, even coverage. The first coat tended to show through a bit on the first coat, and the brush strokes are VERY obvious on the first coat as well...but that all got resolved with the second coat, and none of it is a problem anyway.
After the first coat was done, the piece was pretty streaky and uneven but starting to take shape. I applied the second coat once the first coat was touch-dry (after a few minutes, and honestly by the time I finished the first coat on the last section, the first section was already dry.)
Here is the body of the piece after the second coat.
Then come the drawers! I found that one good coat, starting with the edges and details again, was all I needed for the front of the drawers. I made sure to do the final brush strokes in the direction of the wood grain, and it looks fantastic. Also, the drawers had less damage than the rest of the piece, so they actually needed much less coverage.
Once all the pieces are painted, it's time to start the distressing. Using an extra-fine sandpaper block (you can use heavier or finer grit sandpaper, and in either a block or sheet form. For this, I chose an extra-fine block to just give the edges a little scuff, and also buff down the surface gently, to take away any extra brush-stroke texture I didn't want on the final product.)
Once the pieces are buffed and the edges distressed, you can choose how much or how little you want to sand off. Any interesting details (like the 3-panel top drawers here, or any added carved detail that might be on your piece) might need an extra pass, and could even show through some of the wood underneath, which really makes the detail contrast and pop. Warning!: The waxing stage makes everything you just detailed MORE obvious! If in doubt, do less and you can always add more distressing finishing touches while the wax is drying.
This is what mine looked like once the distressing and buffing was done.
Next comes the waxing stage. Working in small sections at a time, work the wax into the underlying paint, massaging it into the furniture. I used a circular motion first, then gave a strong sweep in the direction of the grain at the end, making sure to take off any excess clumps of wax with the tip of the brush. A few hairs fell off the brush but that's okay because it come off in the next step:
After the section is waxed, take a j-cloth or other clean, lint-free cloth and buff the waxed surface. This takes off the excess wax, smooths the brush strokes of the waxing step, and wipes away any debris or hairs.
This is what the drawers looked like after the waxing/buffing stage
Once the painting/waxing/buffing was done, I took the hardware and gave it a good spray with the Rustoleum Dark Steel spray paint I had. I didn't worry too much about getting super-even coverage, because I don't mind the distressed, uneven finish. But the overall effect was great. Here is the final piece assembled, once the hardware dried (about an hour later):
And that's it! The whole process took about 90 minutes, plus an hour for the hardware to dry in between. It's still drying upstairs, but the drawers can be opened and closed easily and it is touch-dry, and shows no signs of use when light items (such as screw drivers) are placed on top. The paint takes 30 days to completely and permanently cure (so use it lightly and carefully the first month), but don't worry too much about any wear-and-tear that comes with use. The distressed effect will only be enhanced, and you can always buff, sand, or re-wax the finish (or re-paint!) if you ever feel it needs it. I have also read that you should just clean it gently with soap & water or a good dusting from time to time, but if you get it dirty and need a deeper clean with a strong cleaning product occasionally, it might just need to be re-waxed and buffed.
That's it! I hope you find this posting helpful, and would love to see your projects too. Do you have any tips or comments to add?