Welcome back to the third installment in my mini-series on prepping your furniture to become a milk paint masterpiece.
So. We began the series with a previously unpainted piece and now I think we will move on to something completely different. This dresser is another one of my craigslist finds. I recently wrote a two part post about picking and choosing when it comes to craigslist furniture (Part 1 HERE) (Part 2 HERE) and why some pieces might be better left behind. If you’re going to make that judgement based on how much time you will have to invest in your furniture makeover – then this is definitely one of those times when I should have passed. However, I had been looking for a dresser in this style (I still don’t know what it’s called) and the price was pretty good. To be honest – I wasn’t really thinking with any kind of practicality at the time. It was exactly what I was looking for. Except…it had so. much. paint.
In this next photo you can see that it even had stickers on it that were painted right over at some point. What you can’t see is that one of the back legs was cracked in half – repaired with masking tape – and even the tape was painted right over! More than once!
There was so much paint on this thing that even after I unscrewed the knobs from the inside of the drawers, I still couldn’t get them off. I literally had to whack them with a hammer in order to remove them… (By the way, they were just plain wood knobs and I threw them away. It was much easier and more cost effective to replace them than to try and strip them).
Okay – so, do you remember from the beginning of the series what the two questions are that need answering when you’re deciding what to do for prep work?
1. What have you got? (a HEAVILY painted piece)
2. What are you going for?
When I began, I wasn’t really sure what I was going for. I told you I wasn’t really thinking all that clearly. But, if you’ve got a painted piece you’ve basically got two choices when it comes to prep. You’re either painting over the existing finish OR you’re going to strip the existing finish.
Clearly, this has to be stripped.
Some notes about stripping: It sounds really intimidating right? Well, I just want to point out that this is the first piece I ever stripped. I used Citristrip. I wasn’t in a hurry to get this piece done so I just went about it one section at a time – kind of learning as I went along. Read the instructions on the label and use your common sense. Flat surfaces are EASY- start there. You can see in the photo above that the paint is coming off really nicely – but not all the way down (through 5 layers of paint) to the wood. This is where I learned to leave it setting overnight – after that – it went right down to the wood and just needed one last quick application to remove the final layers of the original poly and stain. I use the Citristrip, After Stripper Wash, as well and it really cleans up very nicely with no offensive smells. The detail work on this piece (on the front) required a stiff wire “toothbrush” sort of tool found in the refinishing section at the hardware store. I also used the pointy end of a drywall screw to get paint out of some really tiny spaces. Just remember – this is all doable – even for a beginner. It does require some patience – but there are some paint jobs that just cannot be painted over. You will have to strip! But it’s OKAY! You can do it!
Now. In answer to the question of what look are you going for, your options are WIDE OPEN at this point! Once you’ve got your piece fully stripped you will want to give it all a light sanding with a fine sanding sponge – just in case any of the grain in the wood has been raised by the application of the stripper and the wash. I decided to stain the top of the dresser with a dark coffee colored stain and paint the body with Boxwood MMSMP. I finished with two coats of Hemp Oil.
Remember what it looked like before?
In the end I really do think this piece was worth all of the time and effort I had to put into it. I learned a lot along the way – about shopping for furniture – about stripping furniture – and best of all – this is where I fell in love with applying milk paint to raw wood.
The finish is just so smooth and it just plays so nicely with wood.
Imagine what this top would have looked like without the prep work done before hand??
Imagine letting that hide under all that paint?
So. This kind of prep work can be a bit tedious – but, it’s well worth it in the end.
If you’re considering this kind of makeover yourself and you’ve got questions – I’d be happy to try and help you out – feel free to ask away in the comments!
NEXT UP IN THIS SERIES:
The next piece in the series on prep work will be this adorable little dresser… I’m going for a chippy look! I can probably just go straight to painting, right??
Hmmm… we’ll see about that…
see you soon!