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Furniture painting help - once and for all!

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Andycase

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Hi

I have been making a few pieces of furniture for friends, family etc. Pretty much all the stuff i do is pine, and the finish is usually Shabby Chic, or French Provencial etc. Not gloss or varnish.
I have also purchased some cheap pieces and renovated them.

I am getting confused over finishing them. Oil based, water based, Primers, etc? Should i sand them all back right to bare wood? Can i use oil over water, or water over oil?
Can i use wax over oil and/or water to give an aged finish?

Theres products like Zinniser BIN for priming, Farrow & Ball for finish, Annie Sloan (which apparently doesnt need any primer no matter what its going onto).
My head is spinning.

What i would like to do is just make a list of 1 Primer, 1 finish that i can use consistently in a different top coat colour, and know whether i need to sand all the time, or not.

Is Farrow & Ball or Annie Sloan worth the cost? Or will Leyland/Johnstones/Macphersons do the job anyway?

Acrylic Eggshell keeps popping up

Can anyone give me a rough little 3 or 4 step list of what they use or have had success with so that i can put that on my workshop wall and crack on
 

Matt@

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I had cause to paint an old pine washstand top into which was to be sunk a basin so the paint finish had to be durable. After much head scratching I went for water based Zinnser bullseye primer finished with two coats of mixed to order dulux oil based eggshell paint from B&Q. Be warned only the big B&Q branches seem to mix oil based. I must say the paint went on like an absoloute dream.
 

SeanJ

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im interested too to hear if anyone's involved in the 'chabby chic process' on a commercial level, i imagine it's very variable, i understand that the oil based F & B type coloured paints are to be sought over the waterbased for better end results, and quite often a differing colour primer/undercoat for the rubbed through/worn look is favoured, if your getting further into the look then a crackle effect of the top coat is another possibiltiy. You've only got to look at ebay as to what some sellers consider 'chabby chic' for a chuckle.
 

nellieboy

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hi up until 4 years ago i worked in the "antiques" trade.the firm was based in stamford lincs.my job was repairing or making repro stuff but it was all rustic farmhouse type furniture bought through dealers in netherlands mainly by the artic load.much of the furniture was from the baltic and balkan countries.you cant find unrestored welsh dressers and irish in quantity anymore so gradually over the years the dealers moved further east through europe.most of this stuff was hand made and buit to last .nearly all of our finished product went to america had guys coming across every 3 months and they would clean the warehouse out.quite often i was involved in the finishing as well.the best paint is emulsion.after stripping in caustic tank you would wire wool the peice till it shone then apply the paint .sometimes 3 or 4 different colours. always rubbing down with wire wool between coats .medium wool normally.the objective is to apply the wear through to the next layer only in the areas thet would be subject to wear over time ie around the handles on the edges tops of cupboard doors where you might hold them when you open them. most raised edges on panels and beading and plinths .most wear is caused over the years by constant cleaning and polishing which gradually wears through the original finish with just a few chips maybe from being knocked by a chair or broom. the idea is to mimic this .and not go over the top.i dislike the term shabby chic. 99 percent of it is rubbish.it s an over used term like vintage on ebay.the by product of burnishing between coats with wire wool is that it toughens the fresh paint making it more durable than oil based which takes days to harden and after a few years becomes brittle and prone to chipping. when you have acheived the desired look then you wax it generally with a brown wax leaving it thicker in the mouldings giving a slightly dirty look.often the tops and shelves are left in the natural pine finish.in which case you apply clear briwax.buff it up and then go over with brown wax to suit .if you dont seal with clear wax you can end up with an unappealing dark blotchy slab.this is not new flat wood its often well worn and has small holes and such bit like me.but the main thing is to get a good shine on each coat or on bare wood peices without that no amount of wax and buffing will make it shine.i have photos of about a hundred different peices fromm huge dressers to small coffee tables if any one is interested will need some pointers on how to post them not done it before. another thing to bear in mind. wirewooling darkens the colour so dont expect your furniture to match the wall behind it .be careful with briwax on painted surfaces even the new formulation can dissolve some finishes ruining your work.hope this helps cheers neil
 

Matt@

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prob one the best posts I've seen here for a long time :)
 

Andycase

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Brilliant reply, thank you very much.
If you have any photos would love to see them. PM me and you could email me direct.
I love this type of furniture - hate IKEA!!!!! Would be great to get some inspiration for my own home and friends - ill never do it commercially, but im really interested in the process and finished product.
 

Jacob

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It's a bit grim and depressing, the shabby chic market.
All that caustic soda and makeover is basically destroying tons of often good quality traditional furniture. And the poor sods in eastern Europe are being persuaded to part with good quality trad stuff which lasts for generations, and buying IKEA instead, which lasts months. Same has happened in British Isles of course.
Can't object to slapping paint on - that is traditional and non destructive, but caustic dipping, wire brushing, general roughing up, is bad news.
Decorators' Emulsion quick and easy. If you want better colours you could look at "artists" acrylics etc - pricier but better quality. If you want the real thing then linseed oil paints (e.g. Holkham) are brilliant for trad colours (dull!) coverage and ease of application, but are slow drying.
Even worse is the new badly made rough stuff faked up to look real but "old".

For those interested in the real thing - there is the Regional Furniture Society - not a very good website but they do good publications and events. Google Richard Bebb for welsh stuff and his brilliant (but expensive) book. And google generally around traditional regional vernacular furniture etc.
 

nellieboy

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hi jacob. i couldn,t agree more about caustic soda and good furniture .nearly everything we bought was broken or knackered any way and needed extensive repairs. plus we would alter or make something entirely different from the wood salvaged from these items.specifically whatever the customer needed .i found it to be the most rewarding of jobs because i seldom did the same thing twice. its hard work to be competetive in that market because there is so much rubbish stuff out there and joe public often doesnt realise.our buisiness is 40 years old and to date that runs into thousands of peices of nice furniture that was made from lovely worn hundred year old wood which if you saw it in its tired old broken down state you may like many see it only as firewood.with wood like that covered in paint and grease and god knows what caustic is the only cost effective way to clean it up .its hard on wood if you leave it in to long and pickle it .like any job or method its only as good as the man doing it.i dont know why you mentioned a wire brush because i certainly didnt.i said wire wool.we never used sandpaper either wire wool leaves all the raised ridges in the table top or whatever sandpaper flattens all those years of wear.those poor old eastern europeans are selling what to them is either junk or firewood,just like the irish and welsh and spanish etc sold all their grandparents furniture ie they did not want it. whether or not they shop at ikea i have no idea i suspect they are free to shop wherever they wish.just like all of us.some woods obviosly dont react well with caustic oak for instance can go black in which case we would use nitromors but the new formulation is nowhere near as good as the old .they are all nasty chemicals you just have to use and dispose of them in the right way.hope that clears things up happy new year to you all neil
 

Jacob

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nellieboy":37ue8dgz said:
........i dont know why you mentioned a wire brush because i certainly didnt.
I know - it's the others - I've had stuff brought in here for repair which looked like salty driftwood, after caustic and wire brushing etc.
......those poor old eastern europeans are selling what to them is either junk or firewood,just like the irish and welsh and spanish etc sold all their grandparents furniture ie they did not want it. ......
Then their grandchildren buy it back, if they can find something like it! Bin there, dunnit. My parent's dumped all my grandparent's stuff for next to nothing. Brass bedsteads, wash stands, kitchen tables, all worth a bit now and collectable.
 

nellieboy

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hi Andycase just lost a post replying to you bloody long one as well .i used dulux or farrow and ball but thats expensive for no gain really .dulux works out cheaper in the long run than cheaper emulsion because they are generally thinner to start with and dont cover as well.just water down dulux and your good to go.oil based as jacob mentioned is okay for specific cases like kitchen cabinets and bathroom furniture because of water or high humidity. you can create an aged effect with thinned down colours or stains then wiped off leaving it in the depressions just like the waxing then seal it with a good quality satin varnish. some emulsions can be hard to rub down in which case you can add powdered acrylic paint it helps break down the polymers making it easier to rub down or just to add texture to the underlayers.to my mind making your own piece of unique furniture has just as much merit as buying a fine reproduction piece,especially if it would be junked otherwise. can you pm me your email and ill try to upload some pics for you .just tried to post one but it said file to big not sure how to get round that oh well this old dog will have to learn a new trick any advice appreciated cheers neil
 

SeanJ

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Hi Nellie, your posts made interesting reading as i'm a finisher of some 20 years but without much paint experience - though i did used to caustic dip when i was a lad! The wire wooling til the piece 'shone' is a good tip, so too is the dark waxing after the clear, also using several colours before abrading and distressing makes sense. I suppose if you want a fashionable paint colour (like the F&B's or whatever) then you can get a match at your supplier in a cheaper emulsion paint and work with that, the skill is no doubt in the application and thought given to a project. Regarding your pics it sounds like you need to scan them i'm guessing (if they're not files already?) which will take time to get the settings right on your computer I guess, but all the same i'd like to see some if you get them up in the near future. Nice one mate. :D
 

alex8_en

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Hi guys sorry for dumb question but when you say emulsion you mean like wall and cieling emulsion?
 

superunknown

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Years ago I used to make the odd bit of painted pine furniture for a local shop. The idea was it would be distressed to resemble the New England style they were selling. I used to use a 'buttermilk' paint that was really superb. The above post about burnishing with wire wool reminded me.
I used to apply a stain, a base colour then the finished colour, sand/distress on the areas where natural damage and wear would occur, burnish with 0000 wire wool then finish with a furniture wax. The finish you get from the burnishing was lovely.

I have had a bit of a search to see if I could find the paint supplier online........

http://www.pinebrushcolourman.co.uk/index.php?mn=225

Lovely colours and lovely paint.
 

shanon-jane

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Hi Nellieboy,
Firstly I was very impressed with your tutorial - it was just what I was looking for. Please could you let me know whether you go over the whole of the last coat of paint with the wire wool before you wax or just the distressed areas? I did wire wool the top coat but turned the ivory colour into a bit of a sludge! However the surface of the furniture is like glass! Using the wire wool is far more superior than using sandpaper. Also you mentioned different colours - would you paint a different colour but similar hue so later it grins through? ie pale blue or green with a cream over the top then rub through to the blue or green? I would love to see some photos if you have any. Hope you are still using this site if not someone else may have downloaded your photos and perhaps they would be kind enough to send them on to me?
Thank you
Jane
 

restored2013

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i have recently started restoring furniture and painting it shabby chic (without the distressing) i currently use annie sloan old ochre the then wax with annie sloan clear soft wax, is there a spray wax or something i could use that would be easier or give a better finish?
 

rafezetter

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Lots of great replies so I'll add my small experience:

Oil paint over totally dry water is fine and vice versa - at least 2 days drying for water; double for oil - that's my method (usually coz I've made a mistake tbh and got the colour wrong / decided I wanted a more durable finish) you might get just as good results in a shorter timespan; but frankly I'd rather wait than have to strip it and do over again.

Never tried anything over milkpaint, but from what I've seen it can have very low adhesion - flakes and cracks on it's own without help, which could be to your advantage depending on the look you are after.

Wax over any of the above is fine, at least after 24 hours drying - the few bits I've done beeswax over oil and water have turned out great and silky smooth - lovely.

As far as colours - what over what - it all depends on what look you are going for: subtle blending whereby it's more modern white over ivory (simulated old yellowed "white") and only lightly cut back in a few places to show wood, or trying to replicate the "I grabbed the closest tin of whatever paint and slapped it on" which means there will be more aggressive cutting back in more places and to the wood; hence the next colour being slapped on to "freshen up".

The single colour family trick can be made more realistic by doing a paint chipping effect we use in scale modelling whereby the base coat has places of wear and or corners covered with various things like wax mushed up (stippled or whatever) with an old rubbish short bristled brush or wet rock salt (a good one as it creates a very random effect), as liberal or sparing as you like then allowed to dry. Paint over all of it again, then clean off areas of salt by gently rubbing them out but try to leave the outline as best as you can. The wax you heat with a heatgun or something gently and wipe off, and if you don't get it all off that's fine too as the next layer won't stick or have defects that adds to the effect - another alternative is dabbing paint remover randomly letting it cut to the previous or more layers then removed by wiping and neutralising, plus damaging the piece itself with a file or something around exposed edges Knocked about / dog / cat scratches) ; best done with 3 or more coats with treatments done randomly in different areas each time - great to fake age even on a single colour item.

The reason for the above is when you put the next coat on you get the visual effect of dimpled cratered paint, whereby even if you paint over that section with colour and don't cut it back, you can still see that there has been more layers of paint in the past.

If you really wanted to go for it you could deliberately introduce paint reactions in random spots to get crackling, bubbling effects - not just crackleglaze which to my eye is a bit too obvious if done poorly - but more like replicating mistakes people get when they have no idea what they are doing - which is usually the case with the "slap it on, whatever colour it is" favored of utilitarian country folk prettying up something for the misses. A way I've had this in the past (totally by accident) is using volatile solvent based paint like nitrocellulose or xylene (a serious headbanger - potent stuff and utterly ruined 4 days work!!) over oil or water - such as car spray paint, or the thinners for the effect, it will react and cause serious crazing or bubbling which you can leave on or remove - but NOT the acrylic car spray paint versions which will go over oil and waterbased with no little to reaction effects at all (acrylic car varnish is great for a fast satin finish in a pinch, but hard to get even on a large piece, best used for small stuff) - but oddly I've just remembered oil over acrylic spray paint WILL give subtle crazing - a wood window cill I was trying to finish fast at home - sprayed with ( :oops: *embarrassed*) white fridge spray paint (it was leftovers and a :!: bright idea :!:) - didn't cover or work very well so I painted over with oil gloss when it seemed dry but obviously wasn't - looks ok from normal distance, but if you look closely there is crazing (differing drying speeds which is how crackle effect occurs) - some dark wax or thin paint wash would bring this out.

Depending on how many coats of paint you want, the last one from the top could be applied rough style with a coarse brush (worse the better like a masonry brush) to introduce heavy brushmarks, then the last coat will subdue them a bit.

If there's carved detail you could make a small pre mix of the paint colour with talc powder (not flour, it'll rot) to thicken it, then paint over the detail first and let dry, before the slap coat so it's less defined - again like it's got a dozen or more coats on it as you see with plasterwork in old houses.

The "Slap it on" method should use contrasting paints so the cut back area's are as obvious as possible and you'll need to be more liberal with them too, it's hard used unloved furniture and should look like it.

Then there's the "recent 70's owner who likes it natural but is unskilled" method : a plain wood piece that got stripped with a blowtorch and has a few light scorchmarks here and there, maybe a heavier one or two roughly sanded out ish - if there's detail areas, there's bits of paint left in crevices - a good way to fake old thick paint here is some powder colour mixed with thin watery superglue and dabbled in - it will set in a minute or two, so make only a small bit at a time and have realistic thickness (but sets like concrete so beware !!) - waterbased might be ok to mix, oil... dunno not tried it.

1 obvious mismatched handle where there's a few - odd bun foot, square lump on plainer items, mismatched wood ...

There's many more of course, but that's a sample of personal experience and tips I picked up from TV / books etc... lol blimey I actually look like I know what I'm talking about ...(gizza job?)
 

sara84

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hi nellieboy,
like sharon-jane said above, really impressive tutorial! i was wondering if you still had some photos,i could look at? basically wanted to know the same as Sharon-jane
many thanks x
 

PFMSW3

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Nellieboy - Are you still here? I'd like to discuss a piece of furniture with you. Looking for someone to refinish/paint in in Stam Linc area. Thanks!
 
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