Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How to Stain with Gel Stain Over an Existing Finish

I shared the makeover of a Mid Century Modern Credenza last week where I used General Finishes Gel Stain over the existing finish on the piece and wanted to share how I did that.

I think one misconception is that you have to strip and sand a piece down to bare wood before you can re-stain it. Sometimes that is necessary, but if you have a piece without much of a topcoat (sealer, poly, etc) and the finish is in good shape, you can go over it with a gel stain. Here's what I did to darken the color and freshen up the finish on a mid century dresser. (steps and details below the picture).

I first began by wiping the whole piece down with a cleaner to remove any dirt and grime build up from over the years. 

Next, I wet sanded everything using 320 grit sandpaper. I combined this step with cleaning the piece, but water is just fine for wet sanding (a spray bottle is the best). I just wet the area , as well as the sandpaper, and lightly sanded. This helped to remove any of the topcoat that was left on the surface. Be sure to use a sanding block/sponge or use sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block so you applying even pressure. You don't want to sand off any of the previous finish, otherwise you will be left with a blotchy look once you stain. After wet sanding, wipe off any of the water or cleaner and let the area dry. 

After the drawers and frame of the dresser had been wet sanded, I went back over the whole piece with 400 grit sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block. This was just regular sanding (not wet sanding) that prepared the wood for stain. I then used dry and damp paper towels to remove any and all particles from the surface.

I waited 30 minutes to make sure any of the moisture in the piece was dry before I began staining. As I mentioned before I used General Finishes Gel Stain in "Java". Do be sure to wear gloves because the stain will get all over your hands. I used a foam brush to apply a thick layer of the stain, then used staining pads to wipe it off. It took about 4 passes of wiping off the stain with a clean area on the staining pad to get all of the excess stain removed. Look carefully to be sure there are not streaks or marks left. Right away the wood color was so much better!

Once the whole piece was stained, I let it cure for 48 hours (18-24 hours would have been fine). The can recommends 6-8 hours, but in my experience that is not always enough time and applying a topcoat too early before the stain has cured can take off the color in certain places and ruin the finish. So be patient, and wait it out. 

Once the stain is dry, apply the topcoat of your choice. Water based topcoats and polys are great options, easy to apply, and clean up with soap and water, but an oil based poly would also work. I used General Finishes high performance topcoat in the Satin finish. Really, that's all there is to it!

If you want to check out the finished piece, click here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Before & After: Mid Century Modern Credenza with a Glossy White Top

I was really excited to find his mid century credenza on craigslist. I haven't worked on one in a while and as soon as I saw it I was already thinking of what I wanted to do with it... patin it all white and leave the legs wood.

After picking up the piece and seeing it in person there was no way I was going to paint over the drawers. They weren't perfect, but I wanted to keep the varying directions of the walnut veneer on the drawers. I began by wiping the piece down to get any grease and dirt off of it, then I began sanding. Trying to strip and sand the drawers would have taken forever and I was too scared to ruin the drawers and that varying veneer.

I first wet sanded the whole piece with 220 grit sandpaper. I wet the drawers and the sandpaper and lightly sanded, making sure not to remove the old original stain (other wise I would have an uneven finish once stained). There didn't seem to be any poly or other topcoat finish left (it probably dried out and wore off), but wet sanding helped to get any layers of that finish that I couldn't see and dust/dirt build up from over the years.

Next, once everything had dried, I went back over everything really lightly with 400 grit sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block. Both times when I sanded the drawers I made sure not to sand the center strip of veneer in the opposite direction. If I had done that, there would be obvious scratch marks. A good wipe down with dry and damp paper towels got everything clean. I did let the piece sit for about 30 minutes before beginning staining to let any moisture from wiping it down dry out. The fun part was seeing how the Java Gel stain really gave the wood a rich color. If you want to see how to apply Gel Stain over an existing finish, click here.

Since this is an oil based product the dry time is longer. I let it dry for 48 hours (24 would be fine), but the weather turned to cooler temperatures and I wanted it to really be set and cured. I sealed all of the wood areas with General Finishes high performance topcoat in satin. At this point everything looked pretty good, but the top didn't take stain as well as the rest of the piece, and the corners had been dinged so some veneer was missing. I decided to fill the corners and paint the top white for contrast. After sanding and filling I rolled on 2 thin coats of my favorite primer, Zinsser cover stain. This primer is really great at sticking to lots of different surfaces and blocking out tannin bleed through. I sanded with 320 grit sandpaper once it dried, wiped it down, and applied 2 thin coats of General Finishes Snow White Milk Paint (it's not actually milk paint, it's an acrylic paint). I used a foam roller, but held the end of it so it didn't roll, but glided on. I didn't want that roller texture. The next day I sanded again with 400 grit sandpaper and then applied 2 more coats of the white paint with a brush. Once that was dry I sealed it with GF's high performance topcoat in gloss. The last thing to do was attach the original hardware. Here's the sleek and modern after.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Before & After: Soldier Blue Talking Machine Cabinet

I don't really know what to call this piece. I keep calling it a tiny buffet, but really it's an old talking machine that has everything taken out of it, so it's just a cabinet now. The 4 small doors all open on the front and the middle portion of the top opens, so it could be a great bar. I bought it from someone who had planned to open up an antique booth, but hadn't, so they were clearing out the old pieces they had. The bad part was it had been oiled up like crazy. I think at one point it had been shellaced (you could see the drips on one side) so the oil that was put on it did not soak it, it was just sitting on the surface.

That proved to be challenging for me. Once I got it home I wiped off the excess oil, then began sanding to rough up the surface and prepare it for paint. I then wiped the whole piece down with TSP. After the first coat of paint there were some weird spots coming through, so I sprayed on a coat of Shellac (that stuff is a lifesaver, you should always have it on hand!). After the shellac I sanded the piece and painted on another coat of blue paint. For anyone wondering, I used Old Fashioned Milk Paint and I mixed Soldier Blue with a small amount of Federal Blue. I liked the variation and wood showing through the paint, so I stopped at 2 coats, sealed it with General Finishes HP topcoat in flat, sanded with 320 grit sandpaper and then applied 1 coat of clear wax.

I ordered some fun clear glass and silver hardware online for the doors (in the photo above), but once they arrived and I tried them out, they just didn't look right. The hardware was too modern for the antique style of the piece, so I used some knobs from Hobby Lobby that I've had for a long time.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Furniture Reveal: Pitch Black Milk Paint Dresser

I was able to pick up this dresser and finish it all in one day. It's a new record for me and it was definitely a nice change from the days and weeks other pieces take. The top was not in good condition when I purchased the dresser and had to be sanded down to raw wood. I also sanded off the flowers that were painted on the front of the second drawer. I didn't take any good before photos because I pulled the piece out of my car and started working right away, so this is all you get, an iphone photo.

After I removed the decorative molding on the top I sanded it down to raw wood with my orbital sander. I used 80 grit and worked my way up to a 220 to make sure the top was smooth. I also lightly hand sanded the rest of the piece with 150 grit. Once it was sanded I used TSP substitute to remove any dust particles and prepare the piece for paint. 

I chose to go dark with the color. That could be related to the fact that I'm ready for some darker fall colors, but I knew I wanted to use bone knobs and black was the perfect contrast for them. I used Old Fashioned Milk Paint in Pitch Black. Because the wood finish was already dark I only needed 2 coats of paint (I did use 3 on the top since I sanded it down to light, bare wood). I added the bonding agent to prevent chipping and get a clean look then once the paint was dry I used a foam brush to apply one coat of General Finishes high performance topcoat in flat. In my experience, this specific black milk paint color gets a foggy, white-ish blue-ish finish when poly is applied, so I did a thin coat, sanded it with 320 grit sandpaper once dry and then added a coat of Maison Blanche Dark Brown Wax. The dark wax deepened the black paint and covered up those foggy areas. Now it has a durable finish from the poly, but also a rich, black color thanks to the dark wax.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A look at a black dresser and camera settings

I finished up another dresser, which I mentioned when I posted the Driftwood Dresser. The weather is super dreary today (I'm actually kind of enjoying that is feels like fall), but it's not so good for taking photos. I also did not feel like trying to come up with a new way to stage this dresser so I staged the exact same way I staged the Driftwood Dresser. 

So, here's my questions for you all. What can I do when there isn't a whole lot of natural light to make photos less grainy. I normally shoot in the automatic setting with no flash. For these I did attempt shooting in manual mode (higher ISO, larger aperture and a longer shutter speed) which helped with getting enough light (I also edited them and bumped up the exposure, changed the white balance, etc). I really don't know what I'm doing so those setting probably should be different, so if you have any tips, they would greatly appreciated. The sun should be back in the next few days (along with the 80 degree weather), and I will have a more detailed post with better photos in a bit. 

Before and After - Driftwood Dresser

I have been wanting to paint a dresser in Driftwood milk paint for a while now, but I have not been able to find a dresser for longer than that.  I've used the color before on a buffet and a vanity desk, and empire desk [note: the color looks light on some of those piece because they were sealed with wax, not with poly]. Finally I was able to pick up 3 dressers over the past 2 days and finish 2 of them right away (there's another one close behind!). I originally went to pick up a different dresser, but this sweet one was also there and I couldn't leave it behind. Somehow my dad and I barely fit both of them in our SUV and drove back to my car (we met up to go get the dressers) with our seats entirely visible through the driver and passenger windows. We looked like fools, but it was great, though not entirely safe ;)

The other dresser I picked up needs a lot of work, so this one was up first. The top had been sanded down when I bought it. Personally, I don't always like the look of stained tops on piece (especially taller ones), so I opted to paint over it. It also wasn't in the best condition so I didn't feel too bad about it. 

I lightly sanded the rest of the piece, vacuumed it and then wiped everything down with TSP substitute. I then let it dry, mixed up my Driftwood milk paint by The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Co. (with the bonding agent added to help with adhesion and discourage chipping) and got to painting. I only used 2 coats on this piece. The paint had pretty great coverage, and part of that is due to the fact the it's a brown/taupe color that was similar to the original wood color. Once the milk paint dried for a few hours I sealed it with 2 coats of General Finishes High Performance top coat in flat. I sanded in between coats with 320 grit sandpaper to smooth everything out, then finished the piece with some bone knobs. The finish on this dresser is gorgeous if I do say so myself. It's smooth, has lovely variation, and the wood is peeking through just enough.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Grey on Grey Cabinet

I don't normally take on custom work because there are a lot of things I have to take into consideration when painting someone else's piece, but my neighbors and the family I babysit for are moving out of country and I was able to do this piece for them before they left. It had already been painted when they bought the piece at an estate sale and whoever painted it did not do it right. You could easily scrape the paint off so I knew all of the paint had to come off before I could prime and paint it. If it didn't get the paint off, whatever I painted onto the piece would still be over the yellow/orange paint that was not a good base. It also had a few layers of wallpaper that she tore out which is why the inside looks a little crazy.

Sanding this thing down took forever. I just wanted to knock it over, but after working on it for a few hours for 3 days I finally got it done. There was a lot of nail removing (especially on the inside of the doors, the chicken wire was held on with nails) and filling random holes on the piece. I also had to remove the wood detail that was above the doors as requested by the owner.  As you can see below, it looked worse before it looked better!

I was in a race against the rain trying to get this piece sanded, prepped and primed before a storm hit. Once I wiped all of the dust off from sanding, I mixed some TSP substitute with water and wiped the piece down. When it had dried it was time to prime. I chose to use spray primer because it saves so much time. My go-to choice of a good primer is Zinsser Cover Stain which is an oil based primer. This piece took 2 cans of primer and while it's more expensive to buy primer in a spray can, the amount of time it saves for a piece like this is totally worth it! In the photo below the piece is partially primed. When I sprayed the doors I just set them one at a time inside the cabinet so the over spray could be used there. Most of the inside was not primer though because I was using a chalk paint to paint it and I didn't have worry about bleed through.

After the cabinet was primed I let is cure for 24 hours then took a 320 sanding block to it to make sure everything was super smooth. I then mixed up a custom medium grey paint color for the outside of the piece using General Finishes milk paint in the colors Seagull Grey and Queenstown Grey. I just added some of each color until I achieve the right tone. The outside got 3 coats of the grey paint and was sealed with a thin coat of GF high performance poly in flat followed by a thin coat of GF's Satin wax. For the interior of the cabinet I used Country Chic Paint in their limited edition color 'Lazy Linen'. It's a really pretty soft, creamy grey that has great coverage. I primed the wood shelves to prevent bleed through, but the back and sides of the cabinet I just wiped down before painting. I only needed 2 coats for full coverage and then sealed the shelves with CCP's Tough Coat water based sealer (great for surfaces like shelves that get heavier wear) and the other parts of the interior with wax. The last thing to do was add in some hardware. I had a few of these white rose knobs leftover from Hobby Lobby, and they work perfectly! For now the cabinet doors are bare. The owner is going to add decorative aluminum sheets once she has the change to buy them.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Geometric Mid Century Dresser with a Green Accent

I've done quite a few pieces with this geometric design now, so there's no need to talk all about it again. All I really have to say is it adds some interest to an otherwise straight and flat piece of furniture. I have written a post all about how to get clean lines when painting a design, and you can check out the other geometric pieces:

I will give you a quick rundown of the products I used. I primed the laminate top before painting. For the frame of the dresser I mixed a custom medium grey using General Finishes Seagull Grey and Queenstown Grey. Once it was all painted and dry I sealed it with their High Performance topcoat in satin. All of the wood parts of the piece are original. I used some Howard's Restore a finish in Walnut to give them a little bit more life after cleaning them, but that was all! For the geometric design I used Lamp Black milk paint by GF, Snow White by GF and custom mixed the green with a latex paint I had and some GF colors. The green looks off in color in the photos, but in person, it's a true green.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Little Writing Desk in Tropical Jade milk paint

I've had a pint of Tropical Jade milk paint by The Real Milk Paint Co I've been wanting to use for a while (you can find it at Wallcott's in Shoreline, WA if you are local). I finally found a small desk to use it on when I was at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore last week that was a quick project.

I prepped the piece by sanding it lightly with 150 grit sandpaper and then wiping everything down with TSP substitute. Once that dried I mixed up the milk paint with the bonding agent (only in the first coat). I ended up using 3 coats on the piece, and 4 coats on the top. Once the paint dried I sanded it with 320 grit sandpaper to get it extra smooth, then sealed the desk with 2 coats of GF high performance topcoat in Flat. The drawer did not previously have a knob so I added a nautical one from my stash and added some wrapping paper to the drawer. This was a fun project that only took day. It's nice to have these once in a while because usually... projects don't go as planned ;)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How to paint hardware (and make it last)

A while back, maybe 2 years ago, I painted a dresser and chose to keep the original hardware. It went from a gold to an oil rubbed bronze, but I didn't know what I was doing, and it was obvious. Right away the paint started chipping and I had to figure something else out. The good thing is, you can learn from my experience and skip all of the mistakes! So, here's how to paint hardware the right way.

1. Remove your hardware from the piece and clean it with soap or a degreaser.

You can use steel wood to help get any old flaky finish off if you need and smooth everything out, then wipe the hardware down with a cleaner. Soap and water works just fine (that's what I use, or a liquid cleaner/degreaser). You want to get all oils and grime off of the hardware to prep for the finish you are about to put on.

2. Wipe off the hardware and let it dry.

I let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. I also made a point to not touch the hardware, but to put it on a piece of cardboard and take it outside so that any oils from my hands weren't getting back onto the hardware

3. Prime the hardware with an oil based primer.

There are a few different types and brand of spray primer. I highly recommend Zinsser Cover Stain. It's an oil based primer and on the label it says it acts a bond coat. This step is very important to ensure a lasting finish that actually sticks to the hardware. Do thin coats to prevent drips. I waited a minute or two before spraying again so the primer would begin drying. Just make sure all areas of the hardware are covered with a good coat of primer.

Once the primer is dry you may want to use 0000 steel wool to very lightly go over the primer coat and make sure it's smooth (I primed on a piece of cardboard and some of the cardboard debris was sprayed into the finish. The steel wool smoothed it right out).

4. Spray on your paint color

For my hardware I just wanted a true gold, so I used Rustoleum's Metallic Gold. Again, thin coats are key. I did about 2-3 coats and made sure to spray at all angles for full coverage and a smooth finish.

5. Seal the hardware with lacquer or another clear sealer.

After you cleaned, primed and painted the hardware it's best to seal it. It will help the finish last longer and hold up to more wear. The paint I used said not to use a topcoat on it, but I made sure to test it out first to make sure it didn't affect the gold color or finish. I decided to use a lacquer becasue of it's shine and durability. I've also had problems with other sealers I've used in the past giving an uneven finish. I highly recommend the Valspar lacquer and I loved that it's fast drying.

6. Let everything cure, then re-attach the hardware, and you're done!

I know a lot of people just clean and then spray paint hardware, but actually taking the time to prime and seal it will really make a difference in how the paint wears and the finish holds up. Hopefully you found this useful, and now you can update some hardware with some paint!

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