Yesterday I had a very frustrating painting experience, and that’s unusual for me (although it’s my second in a matter of days…very unusual, indeed). Here’s what happened…
Yesterday morning, I went out to the dumpster to toss out a bag of garbage, and there, leaning against the dumpster, was this coffee table…
It was a perfectly fine, sturdy coffee table, and although the top wasn’t real wood, I still decided that there was no reason for it to be thrown out. So I decided to rescue this abandoned table.
Almost immediately, I knew what I wanted to do with it. So, as I always do with furniture, I gave it a quick sanding, and then gave it a cost of oil-based Zinsser Cover Stain primer.
I usually get a nice, even coat of primer that dries quickly and has a finish that sands easily and beautifully. Not this time. This primer (which was new, and I had used once before just last week) went on very streaky. I would dip my brush in the can, and then swipe it across the top of the top of the coffee table, but as soon as I would brush the other way, my brush would drag and cause the primer to be really streaky and rough.
And even more frustrating was the fact that it wouldn’t sand. This primer is usually very easy to sand, and as I sand, but not this time. In fact, I couldn’t tell that the sandpaper was doing anything at all!
I decided to go ahead and paint it (a very bad decision), and I did everything just like I always do…added paint conditioner, mixed well, and brushed on. The paint left a terrible, streaky finish also. And it was as if I had never added paint conditioner.
So, I know that one of you has to have the answers to why my primer and paint did this. I will mention that it was hot and humid outside yesterday, but that’s normal here in central Texas. Heck, if I waited until there was no heat and/or humidity to paint, I’d only have a handful of days each year that qualify as good painting days. Perhaps it was just extra humid, and I didn’t realize it. But have you ever had this happen? And if so, do you know why it happened?
I’d love it if someone can help me with this mystery. But also, I’d just love to hear your favorite painting tips in general. What have you learned over your years of painting? What are your favorite tools and techniques? What insights into painting furniture and cabinets can you offer?
In return, I’ll share with you my top five painting tips:
My Top Five Painting Tips:
1. If you need a smooth finish, paint conditioner is your best friend.
I painted for many years before I discovered paint conditioners, and I was amazed at the difference they make!! If you’re trying to get a smooth finish, like on kitchen cabinets, table tops, etc., then you absolutely need to use paint conditioner. I use Floetrol in latex paint, and Penetrol in oil-based paints. And now, I won’t paint without them.
2. Never try to get a good finish with a cheap brush.
Your paint brush really can make or break your project. I always…exclusively…use a Purdy 2″ XL-Cub. It’s the perfect size for virtually every project, and the short handle makes it easy to paint inside cabinets, bookcases, etc. Purdy is a quality brush that holds just the right amount of paint, and won’t spit out bristles onto your project as you paint. If you take care of them, they’ll last for a very long time.
3. Don’t set your project in front of fans to dry faster.
If you’re trying to get a nice, smooth finish, and you’ve added paint conditioner to your paint and carefully brushed on a smooth coat with your quality brush, the last thing you want to do is put the project in front of fans to make it dry faster. One thing that paint conditioner does is extend the drying time of paint. That allows more time for the brush strokes to smooth out as the paint dries. So if you’re using fans to dry the paint faster, you’re kind of defeating the purpose of the paint conditioner.
4. When painting cabinet doors with a brush, remove them and lay them flat to avoid brush strokes.
When painting anything that needs a smooth finish, gravity is your friend. Let it work for you to smooth out those brush strokes. This, in combination with the paint conditioner and keeping your project away from wind and fans, will give you the smoothest finish possible with a brush or foam roller. The only way to get a smoother finish would be to spray them, and even then, some sprayers just aren’t worth the time or money.
5. Oil-based paint is preferable is you need a perfect, smooth finish. Latex paint or spray paint is preferable if you’re going to do any kind of antiquing, glazing, or other specialty finish.
If you’ve been around here long, you know that I love oil-based paint. While latex paint has come a long way in recent years, it still doesn’t compare to the beautiful, durable finish that you get with oil-based paint. I almost always use oil-based paint for baseboards, cabinets, and furniture pieces when I’m wanting to get a smooth, durable finish with no added clear coats.
But when it comes to doing any kind of antiquing, glazing, or other special finishes, I always opt for latex paint because it dries faster and sands easier than oil-based paint.
I also only ever use spray paint on furniture pieces when I’m going to be adding a glaze or antiqued finish. Otherwise, I find it impossible to get a perfectly smooth finish, with a perfectly even sheen, on large flat surfaces like table tops and dresser tops.