DIY (and partial house tour): how to sand and spray paint an old piece of furniture

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

For the past 6 months I haven’t been able to quite figure out which direction I wanted to take our room in. An ugly dresser (which was beautiful under the paint) that I bought off Craig’s List in Berlin sat sadly in its packing materials, since I was afraid if we left it unpacked I would never redo it as I originally planned. For the holidays we bought me ourselves an electric sander with many different  attachments and this is the single most important thing you’ll need if you ever want to redo a piece of furniture that has a previous paint job. It’s not expensive ZAR500 or about USD60. Sure, you can sand with your hands but I don’t have the time or the hand strength for that. The other most important thing you’ll need is outdoor space. This puts New Yorkers in a bind, but maybe you know someone in Brooklyn with access to a shared court yard or (gasp!) an actual garden or have relatives in Jersey with a yard.

You will need-

a piece of old furniture that needs some love

an electric sander (please, just get yourself one, they’re cheap)

tack cloth or a wet rag

Spray paint primer (Rustoleum or something, not the cheap stuff)

Spray paint in the colors you wish (I used the grey for the dresser, gold for the drawers and black for the handles and mirror)

Any new hardware you may need (I needed three new drawer handles)

1. Lug your ugly-out-on-the-outside piece of furniture outdoors and take your sander to it for all you’re worth. I’ve spent many miserable hours with a piece of sand paper and something I wanted to paint, and for sixty dollars for an electric one you can make all the pain go away, forever! Or at least until you move to a country with a different voltage. The key is to not press hard- let the sander do the work for you. And keep in mind that you are NOT trying to sand down to the original wood (unless you’re re-staining the piece, in which case this blog post is not for you) you are just trying to get everything smooth-smooth.

2. Take tack cloth or a wet rag and wipe away ALL the dust or your paint job will look like an amateur’s.

3. After spreading out drop-cloths spray the primer on. Buy the kind that is safe for things that have been previously painted so you don’t end up with a damn mess. The key to spray painting is to shake the can a lot, spray about 1 foot away in light, continuous strokes. Many light layers will look better than a thick one resulting from spraying 4 inches away from the surface.

4. Follow the instructions on the can for your next layers- for Rustoleum they suggest doing the second and third layers within 1 hour of the primer OR after 24 hours.  Remember- light and layered!

5. After everything has dried (24 hours) screw in your handles (I made P drill me some new holes since the handles I wanted didn’t fit into the previously made holes) and replace the drawers.

Voila! Enjoy your new but old furniture

Do you like how the bedroom is shaping up to be? I’m going for an industrial-ish but feminine vibe. I’m not quite sure how it will turn out in the end but P is into the dresser and I’m loving having some white walls for once. Also, in case you want one that thing the necklaces are hanging on is a metal branch I bought from Urban Outfitters and they’re always selling some version of it.

6 thoughts on “DIY (and partial house tour): how to sand and spray paint an old piece of furniture

  1. where did you get the sander? I want to get rid of the nasty varnish on my office desk, which is a completely different colour than the ad on Gumtree was. In fact, can I just borrow your sander, and your arms, and you redo my desk ;-)

    • Yo, I got it at Builder’s Warehouse….there are cheaper ones but the attachments make it versatile. I didn’t put that my back and arms were hurting after I was sanding all day :). Anyway, yes you can borrow it but if you’re trying to get varnish off you might have to use a chemical paint stripper….just google it and check first

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