Monday, December 2, 2013

Furniture Refinishing: If I Only Knew Then What I Know Now

Gary and I moved to Georgia bringing a hodge-podge of furniture we both already had from college. One of these pieces was a dining table we found at KMart for $60 on clearance, but it had no chairs. When we moved to GA, we decided to add chairs and refinish the table to match. {I will leave it up to you to guess what we sat on before}. We purchased unfinished chairs and got to work.

I should have done a little more research ahead of time, but we were in a small apartment with a tiny balcony and had no room or time to take it slow. We began by taking the table legs off (this really is a heavy table for something you can get at KMart) and we got started.

We began with our sander. I am sure we were a sight with the table upright leaning against the balcony railing, sander in hand! Little did we know that there is an art to sanding. You couldn't tell in the beginning, but sanding the table made it very difficult to get a smooth, even grain. Did I mention this was our very FIRST furniture refinishing attempt?

Lesson(s) Learned: 
1. Use a primer that sticks to everything (Zinsser 123 Primer) and just paint without sanding OR use chalk paint (Annie Sloan's). (Now I know : ) 
2. If you do sand, use the correct grade sandpaper and the correct tools. We honestly could have hand sanded this piece and gotten a more even wood grain. The sanding would've taken off the heat treatment from the factory and not a little wood to go with it!

Great Link for Preparing Wood for Staining: {Wood Prep}

After the table was sanded well (or, so we thought), we began to stain the chairs. This is where it seemed easy enough. But, well another couple of lessons learned.

Sanded Table 

Lesson(s) Learned: 

1. Sit the chair on top of small paint or stain buckets so that the stain doesn't stop short because of the cheap plastic you have down protecting the carpet.
2. Treat the wood first so that the stain is accepted evenly (Min-Wax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner)

Because the chairs were new wood that had never been treated, the stain was accepted pretty well and they looked fine. But, when it came to the table stain, it was a different story. A very sad story!!

New Chairs With Stain 

Unfinished Chair

Table Top Complete With Scratches

Table Leg (A Little Scuffed To Add "Character")

Table Leg
We finally finished staining all of the pieces without killing one another and looked at our finished work. We actually did remember to add Polyurethane to protect the stain on the chairs. We didn't add any to the table because I was satisfied with the look afterwards. And, boy am I glad we didn't take the time. This table and chairs is going to through another refinishing soon with a lot of new ideas I have gathered over time and a new SKILL SET.

This is our table today. After we moved into our home and I began to paint the walls, (I loved having white walls and I couldn't get them painted fast enough- kind of like a kid who colors the whole coloring book at once!) I recovered the seats with a pretty fabric. This fabric will probably go as well due to the fact that it isn't very kid (ie stain) friendly.

Refinished Table and Covered Chairs
As you can see from the photo above, our chairs are the same Cherry color as the floors and it is too matchy, matchy for this girl's taste. I am very excited to refinish this piece soon.

This table is now in our kitchen eating area since our dining room is now a playroom {Playroom}. Gary (God knew what I needed in a hubby for sure) is going to also build a bench to add to one side of the table to increase seating. I may/may not add a cushion to the bench. 

The ideas are still flowing and I can't wait to get my hands on some Annie Sloan chalk paint and wax and test it out on smaller piece before tackling this table and chairs AGAIN! I have been told that I am going to absolutely LOVE chalk paint and I am sure I will.

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