• Joan Wilkening

Paint Prep

Updated: Jun 11, 2018

It's not a pretty picture, is it? We all get in a hurry and want immediate gratification. Often, we say "the preparation time far exceeds the actual work time". Compare it to cleaning your sons room. It takes 10 minutes to vacuum the floor but it took you 30 minutes to pickup the toys, clothes and dishes! A painting project is no different. You'll be happier with the outcome if you take the time to prepare. I've been painting furniture since the 1970's, yes, I"m that old. We painted furniture before it was cool. Although my friends thought it was pretty cool I got to paint my bedroom furniture any color I wanted. And, that color was red. Yup, it was referred to as Chinese red. But, before painting, I had to sand the shelves my Dad built, clean them with a "tack" cloth, apply a primer, sand, clean again and then finally apply the first coat of red paint. Let dry, light sand and then apply the second coat of red paint. Those shelves lasted a long time...I wonder where they are now?

There are many quality paints on the market and in recent years the influx of "chalk style paint" has become all the rage. Side note-you'll notice I said "chalk style" not "chalk paint" because Annie Sloan owns the rights and trademark to the term "chalk paint", no one else can use the term "chalk paint' without risking a cease and desist order or lawsuit for trademark infringement. 

Anyway... Please, please, please for the love of painted furniture even if the instructions, advertising, YouTube video, Facebook live or your aunts second cousin twice removed say you don't need to do any prep work, ignore them! Any professional painter worth their paint brush bristles will tell you preparation is vital to getting long lasting, quality coverage. It usually isn't necessary to strip the finish down to bare wood, but a thorough cleaning and light sanding is imperative to getting a smooth surface. A stroke of your hand over the surface will usually tell you if it's greasy, bumpy and smells of cigarette smoke. I like TSP for a good cleaning, I use 220 grit sandpaper for a light rub, tack cloth to remove dust, a sealer/primer if you're putting light over dark or there are knots, and remember a couple thin coats of paint (with light sand in between) is better than one heavy coat of paint. That's just a very quick overview!  Take a class, we love to teach and share our knowledge because we don't want you to end up with a piece of furniture that looks like the photo!

Be sure to join our email list at and check out the Facebook group for more tips, tricks, and how-to's.

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