Upcycling– painting

Our upcycling blog series looks at different methods of converting old furniture back into beautiful, useful pieces for your home. This post focuses on painting.

Painting a unit may seem like a simple enough task but the choice of both brush and paint type will really effect the end result. It’s also important to prep the wood first and use a primer if you’re looking for a consistent colour. Here are the basic steps:


Step 1 – Choosing the paint

For timber furniture it’s best to use a satin or semigloss finish in either a latex or oil-based paint. This will give you a more uniform finish and once dry will give you a better finish.

Step 2 – Preparation

As with all DIY jobs, it may get messy so it’s best to lay down a dust sheet first. Also ensure that you are working in a well-ventilated room and use a facemask and gloves for protection. You should also remove any of the detail off the furniture such as handles or knobs so that you can paint these separately and not have any join lines.

Step 3 – Surfaces

If there are any chips, holes or pits on the surface now is the time to fill them. Apply wood filler with a small putty knife to the damaged areas and let dry. Then sand down so that there’s no overlap and it feels completely smooth against the surface.

Step 4 – Sanding

Using either sanding sheets or an electric sander (if you don’t have an electric sanding tool you can use a Sanding Kit with your electric drill), sand any existing varnish or lacquer away so that you’ve stripped it back to its original timber. This will ensure that the primer adheres. Ensure any areas you previously filled with wood filler are consistent with the timber. Wipe gently with a damp cloth to remove any remaining residue.

Step 5 – Priming

You are aiming for a smooth coat of primer all over, so the best tool to use is a paint roller for all the wide spaces. Heavy pile rollers are for anything with a deep grain, medium-to-short for smooth surfaces. Use a small paint brush for the detailed areas. Sand between layers (see below) and apply several coats of primer, ensuring you let it dry properly between each layer.

Step 6 – sanding

Between each layer of primer go over the whole piece with a sandpaper. This will ensure the paint bonds with the primer. Around 120 grit sandpaper would be ideal which will give remove any small imperfection and rough the primer up enough for the paint to stick well.    

Step 7 – Finishing

Ensure you use a good quality paint brush or roller for the paint layer. The difference in the bristles or pile quality makes a huge difference to the end result and will save you having to pick out any loose bristles or lumps of clagged up paint. We recommend the Hamilton paint brush range and the Hamilton roller range.  Coat the furniture in a thin layer, using the roller for large surfaces and a brush for small. Don’t use too much paint at once, instead use several coats of thin layers for a better finish. Once completely dry you can add a clear varnish to the whole piece to protect it from nicks and scratches, but the quality of your paint may help you decide whether you need this.

Step 8 – look after your brushes

When you invest in decent paint brushes you’ll want to keep them in shape and you’ll find that with the right treatment they’ll be brought back to an excellent condition again, ready for future paint jobs. Use either clean spirit or white spirit to clean the brushes and once clear of paint, wrap in clingfilm to keep them supple. You can also use paint brush restorer if the bristles have dried up or have old paint on them.