Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dresser Makeover

Our bedroom dressers are hand-me-downs from Matt's dad.  He actually used them when he was a boy. We've been using them since we got married.  I love the simple lines and easy of use (I usually open them one handed by grabbing the bottom of the drawer), and the fact that they were free.  

Only problem was, the finish was in bad shape.  Like really bad.  Covered in scratches and worn out spots.  They COULD be sanded down and restained, but that is A LOT of work and I am not up for it unless I know there is some really awesome antique wood under there.

I knew I could paint them with just a few hours of work (spread out over a couple days).  I don't have a true before picture of them in our bedroom, but you can see them in these shots below.  This one is mine.

And the one wayyyy at the end of the hall under the window is Matt's.  

In decided on a paint color, I wanted to go with a neutral.  I already have pops of lime on the bed, and a pop of dark teal on my side table.  The room couldn't really handle an additional color, and I certainly couldn't paint two whole dressers lime or dark teal.  That would be fine for one smaller piece of furniture but not in this case.  Neutral was the way to go.

Their current color of brown was too dark and too close to the rug color they sit on.  White would be too washed out with the antique white walls.  Beige would be too...well...beige.  Gray way the way to go.  We have gray in our duvet cover and the closet curtain.

I spread the contents of the dresser on the floor of the spare bedroom so we could still access our clothes during the project.  We carried them downstairs and I took off the hardware, which will be staying as is because hardware is expensive and I like these the way they are.

Note the damage of decades of use.

Before painting anything, it's important to sand the surface a little to rough it up so the paint can stick and won't chip off with time and use.  You can do this simply with a piece of sand paper, but with the size of this project I wanted to save myself some time and sweat, so I broke out the electric sander.

Then, wipe down the furniture to remove all the sanding dust.  I use mineral spirits paint thinner and paper towels because it dries fast and is ready to paint immediately.  See most of the pieces below are already dry. 

I used a 6 inch skinny roller that is made for cabinets and doors.  In addition to dressers I've also used this roller on cabinets and doors.  Fancy how that worked out!!  

Going from such a dark color to a light color, it's a good idea to prime the wood first.  It helps the paint cover better and you'll have less coats to paint.

You still need a brush to get in the corners and cracks.  On each side of the piece, brush the paint into the cracks and anywhere the roller won't reach.  Then go back and roll the flat areas.  Continue this alternating process until you've painted all sides of the furniture and drawer fronts.  It goes fast!

Most people would use latex paint because it's not fumey, dries fast, and is easily cleanable with water.

 I, on the other hand, used oil based paint.  It's fumey and hazardous, slow to dry, and has to be cleaned up with paint thinner.  So why would I use this stuff?  Because it's the best paint out there.  You know how painted dresser drawers stick when you open them and if you lay something on it for a while, it sticks and sometimes gets paint stuck to it?  You know how painted furniture always has brush strokes on it?  Well, not with oil paint!

It dries S-L-O-W.  During the slow drying, the paint levels out.  It looks almost factory done.  And it dries HARD.  Really hard.  Nothing will stick to it.  It also covers really well, so I skipped the priming step.  But I had to wait a full day in between coats to make sure it was fully dry (don't need to do that with latex).

My project schedule was: 
Day 1-remove hardware, sand, clean, 1st coat (approx. time 3 hrs)
Day 2-2nd coat (approx. time 1 hr)
Day 3-3rd coat (only needed it on the tops, less than 1 hr)

To deal with the fumes, I painted in the garage.  As an extra precaution, I left them there for a full week after the final coat to fume off before bringing them inside.  Couldn't smell a thing!

Paint experts actually recommend oil paint for kitchen cabinets because it holds up to the water, steam, and oil that comes with cooking.  Against their advise, I used latex in my kitchen because I didn't want to be stuck in a house for days painting with toxic paint fumes.  You CAN see more brush strokes and orange peel roller texture, but latex holds up fine in my experience.  

The color actually ended up lighter than I thought it would, but I've decided to not worry about that.  It's still a huge improvement.

Before bringing the dressers inside, I lightly distressed them with a piece of fine sandpaper.  It can leave the paint around that area looking scratched and dry, so my trick is to rub some vaseline on the rough spot.  The wood/paint just needs a little oil and why mess with buying or opening another bottle.  Vaseline does the trick!

Since I had all the painting supplies on hand, the cost of the project was just the quart of paint which was around $20 from Sherwin Williams.  

More about why I buy from them here (halfway down the post) and here.


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