Raise your hand if you’re guilty of having an exact idea of what you want for a furniture piece, just to find it and decide never mind. I don’t want to spend that much. Or, raise your hand if you’re guilty of spending hours upon hours searching every website known to man only to find nothing that you like. This is me about 95% of the time, which is why I love DIYing my own refinished furniture. It’s really easy once you get past the I can’ts and I don’t knows, and that’s where I come in to help!
1. Pick your Piece of Furniture
So, first things first. You need to find a good piece of furniture to DIY. I always search my local Facebook Marketplace or Offer Up apps. People sell really great, well made pieces on these sites for really cheap. I got my nightstand for $30! I always look for pieces that are real wood, and I try to avoid pieces with a thick layer of shellac, varnish, or layers of old paint. I also try to steer clear of pieces made from laminate, because I’ve found that paint doesn’t stick as well, and you lose the ability to sand and distress the piece if you want to after you paint.
2. Pick Your Paint and Paint Color
Next, I picked the color and kind of paint I wanted to use. I’ve tried several brands of chalk and furniture paint, and my favorite is Behr Premium Plus Ultra in a flat finish. I like that they have hundreds of colors to choose from. I’ve also found that it seems to stick to the furniture the best, is the most stain resistant, and leaves the least amount of brush strokes. I’m sure other wall paint brands would be similar. The only other brand I’ve tried is Valspar, and my honest opinion on their paint is a thumbs down. Chalk paint is another good option, however, I feel like it doesn’t hide stains well or clean off easily. I’ve also had a few issues with it not sticking to furniture as well as Behr paint does. I also like Behr paint because I can buy a sample size, which is only $4. I buy this size for every piece I paint (unless it’s a color, like white, that I know I will use several times), and I always have leftovers, even after two coats. It goes a long way! I always bring home a ton of swatches before picking a color. The swatches look different in different lighting, as well as with the colors in my home. The paint ALWAYS turns out lighter on the furniture than it looks on the swatch.
3. Prep Your Piece
Once you pick your paint, it’s time to prep! I’m probably going to get hate mail for saying this, but I usually don’t sand my pieces. Oops! I despise sanding! I always paint a small patch on the piece of furniture, wait 24 hours, and then scratch at it to see if it easily comes off. So far, with the Behr paint, I’ve never had the paint scratch off, even with a lot of elbow grease! If the paint doesn’t come off you’re good to go. If it does come off, you will have to lightly sand the furniture. The only time I do sand a piece, is when I need to smooth out imperfections. For example, on this nightstand I sanded the top to remove paint blobs and smooth out scratches. Next, remove any gunk, like tape, glue, oily spots, etc. And then wipe the whole piece down with a wet soapy rag or Clorox wipes.
Now it’s time to paint! This is my favorite part! I did two thin coats of paint on the nightstand, waiting about two hours inbetween coats, as directed on the paint can. This part is pretty straightforward, just be sure to run your brush over the edges and in cracks after you paint, to ensure you don’t have any paint runs and the edges stay crisp.
Once the paint is dry, I typically either sand to distress the piece of furniture or apply a dark wax. On this piece I decided to apply a dark wax, since the color came out a little lighter than I wanted. To apply the dark wax, you need a damp rag. I like to use an old t-shirt (or Home Depot sells t-shirt rags) to apply the wax. Dip your rag into a little bit of dark wax, and rub the wax onto your furniture, blending the wax until you get your desired look. My biggest piece of advice, especially for all you perfectionists out there like me, is don’t overthink the dark wax process, and don’t spend too much time applying it! There’s a fine line between not blending the wax enough, which achieves a streaky look, and blending the wax too much, which results in removing all of the wax. I used a light hand, in circular motions, and then walked away before I over wiped. A few minutes later I came back with a q tip to get a little extra dark wax into any cracks, corners, or imperfections.
6. Apply a Finish
Once the dark wax had dried for 24 hours, I applied a matte polyurethane with a foam brush. I like using the foam brushes for this, because I can just throw them away when I’m done. I only applied one layer to this nightstand, because I know it won’t get a ton of use.
7. Replace the Hardware
Lastly, this night stand was in dire need of new hardware! I love getting hardware at Anthropology. In my opinion, they have the best selection of unique knobs and pulls that really amp any piece of furniture. I used this knob on the top drawer, and this knob for the two bottom doors. My advice is to splurge on the hardware! You will not regret it. Unique hardware always helps a piece have more character, and always makes me fall in love with my new DIY. If you don’t want to spend a lot on knobs, Anthropology normally has really good prices on their sale hardware. I’ve found knobs for $1.97 before! They carry some in stores, but have a better selection of sale hardware online. Hobby Lobby also has a great selection on unique hardware.
8. Let the Paint Cure
It’s important to let your paint cure before fully using your piece. The paint will take about 3-4 weeks to fully cure.
I love how this nightstand turned out! I gave it to my sister for her birthday, and she was ecstatic! Since all the rest of her furniture is white, she wanted a darker piece to add contrast. We chose a color that matched her accent blanket, and knobs with silver and gold, to pull together the colors from her shelves. It really tied the whole room together!
Until next time DIYers! Thank you for reading!