Planting Sequoias

In which I blog about a life (hopefully) well lived.


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How Not to Paint Laminate Furniture (in which I learn a valuable lesson about not taking shortcuts)

Two weeks ago, I found this leaning against our apartment dumpster.

Excited does not begin to describe how I was feeling about this magnificent freebie.

free headboard

Ken had a hard time seeing the vision, but I knew I could transform this weighty hunk of laminate into something awesome.

And I know, I know, it doesn’t look that bad–from a distance. Up close–well, it had issues.

Not the least of which were these mysterious screws poking out the top of the headboard.

free headboard--old canopy bed?

My guess is that at one point this bed used to be a canopy bed. A quick appointment with my pliers did the trick, however, and I filled the gaping holes with some wood filler. There were also a bunch of holes down by the bottom of the legs where various bed mechanisms had been attached that I filled in too.

I sanded down the wood-filler-filled places and gently sanded the rest of the piece, and then I got to painting.

Which was my huge mistake.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. It was looking pretty awesome.

Here’s the picture I texted to my mom (I have to turn SOMEWHERE for praise, since Ken has zero appreciation for painted furniture that originated from the dumpster of all places).

wpid-IMG_20130731_161709_834.jpg

Happily (and innocently), I finished painting, and the next night, I set out and distressed the things.

Only that process went a little too easily.

The paint chipped off wonderfully.

A lot of it.

And then I realized that if I even looked at the piece sideways, the paint would chip off.

Frantically I began to Google.

Apparently there’s a very important step between not painting and painting and that would be PRIMER.

Since laminate is so smooth, there’s nothing that paint can really adhere to. DUH.

I, in my infinite wisdom and constant state of impatience, thought that I would be the FIRST PERSON to finally succeed by taking this particular shortcut. FALSE. SO SO FALSE.

So, tearfully, I set up a play-date with my mouse sander and undid what I had already done. Which, in all actuality, did not take very long at all since the paint came off so easily.

And then I primed, and than I painted. This was a multi-day process spent in a dark, sweltering garage. I took no pictures because I was so mad at myself. And then I painted again. WOULD IT NEVER END???

Yes, it would.

After I’d painted it the second time (third if you count the time I sanded off; fourth if you count the primer–but who’s counting?), I got out my glaze and antiqued the thing.

I used Behr’s Faux Glaze and a test pot of brown Glidden paint I had on hand. The glaze helps the paint to remain “open” longer, aka, not dry as fast so you can manipulate it more. Note: do not use on husbands–they don’t respond well to manipulation. Either that or I’m doing it wrong. 🙂

Behr's Faux Glaze and Glidden Test Paint (brown): Perfect for creating an antique glaze

Mix these together at a ratio of 1 part paint to 4 parts glaze. I used a dark brown paint but you can in theory use any color.

Normally when you glaze thing you just smear the concoction all over the furniture and wipe it off, but I didn’t want to get my hands dirty, so I just “dry-brushed” the paint on, focusing on the edges/corners and smearing the stuff lightly all over. I did have a rag nearby so I could wipe off any part that got a little out of hand.

This is what I mean by using a “dry brush”–I just BARELY poke the edges of the bristles in the paint every couple of minutes.

"dry brush" darker paint on furniture edges to create an antique look

This method uses practically NO paint. I like to use the paint that sticks cover of the test pot and that’s about it.

It’s sort of a different way to “distress” furniture–it gives it a chippier look, as if the gray paint is wearing off to show the wood underneath, but it’s really just a big ruse. Shhh. It can be our secret.

antiqued headboard (click for tutorial!)

Also, I’m happy to report that the paint did not chip off at all once I finally did things the correct way and used primer.

I could have finished this with polyurethane or something similar, but after all I’d been through, I decided I really liked the matte finish over something shinier.

antiqued headboard (click for tutorial!)

Since we can’t keep this headboard, it’s currently posted on Craigslist (here, for interested locals)…sniff, sniff. Someday we’ll have a guest room and I will greatly lament parting with this piece, but for now, it can’t stay. Kenny keeps muttering something about wanting to “park the car in the garage” under his breath…

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