Furniture Painting

Furniture Painting-Prepping Furniture That Was Previously Painted

Today, we are diving back into my introduction to furniture painting course! Starting with the first step to the actual furniture painting process which is the prep work! This post is specifically for those furniture painting projects that have already been painted and how to deal with the unique issues that arise because of that. For a complete list of the tools and products I use in this post be sure to check out the last post on my favorite tools and products for furniture painting HERE.

Please note this post contains affiliate links

Painting Furniture That Has Previously Been Painted

Let me preface this entire post by saying that there are some pieces of furniture that you will need to use a more vigorous form of prep work. Such as stripping the furniture before you can paint it again. However a lot of the furniture you are going to come across can be salvaged and re-painted using the sanding method. I will teach you how to determine which is right for your project.

I have been painting furniture for about 6 years now. That means that enough time has lapsed that I am either ready for a different color or a refresh on a few of those firsts pieces of furniture that I painted.

The dresser I am painting and showcasing these steps on, is my 7 year old twin boys dresser. It was originally painted in Miss Mustard Seeds Milk Paint using the Clear Furniture Wax to finish it off in the color Linen which is an off white cream color.

the steps you need to take to prep furniture thats already been painted

Determining The Original Paint

The first thing you must consider when you are contemplating painting furniture that is already painted is what type of paint it is? This is important because if your current piece was painted in a thick latex paint, or an older led based paint you are going to have some issues!

If it is painted in a thick latex paint that cannot be sanded down smooth, your only option will be to strip the furniture. I wont be covering that in this post. But its important to know when you can and can’t just sand it down.

Can you Sand or Must you Strip The Paint Off?

  • If you plan to re-paint your piece either way, simply try to sand a small area of your furniture.
  • If the paint starts to pull up, roll, and peel off sometimes in sheets, you know that its time to go down the path of stripping your furniture and sanding wont cut it.
  • However if the furniture remains smooth and the paint comes off looking like a fine soft powdery sawdust texture when you sand, You are in luck and sanding will be all you need!
  • Pieces painted in milk paint or chalk paint are going to be the easiest to re-paint with out having to strip so keep that in mind!
  • That doesn’t however mean all pieces painted in milk or chalk paint will handle the sanding method different top coats may mean you still need to strip it down.

Getting Started: Prepping Your Furniture for Paint

Lets start prepping! Make sure you wear your safety gear and you have the right tools for the job! It is absolutely necessary that you have an orbital sander for this process. A manual foam sanding block or sanding sheet is not going to get the job done well. Its also is going to take a lot of time and effort.

Don’t be afraid to invest in an orbital sander it will come in handy for so much more than just furniture painting and I think is a great tool to invest in for the home!

Step One: Hardware:

The first step is to remove the hardware. You don’t want to damage or destroy your hardware during the sanding process so be sure to remove it

  • I like to leave my hardware either in the drawers of my furniture piece
  • Or in a small box or zip lock bag. You don’t want to loose any little screws or bolts!

Step 2: Sand!

how to sand furniture prior to furniture painting

Now its time for the main event sanding!

Orbital Sander

Using your orbital sander begin sanding all of the flat surfaces of your furniture piece avoid the following:

  • Curved or round areas such as curved drawers should not be sanded with an orbital sander
  • Stay away from molding pop outs or edges. If you get too close to an inside edge or molding you could easily destroy the details.
  • Detailed areas. If there is any detail work such as an applique etc. don’t sand using your orbital sander.
  • Curved feet: If you have some pretty feet on your the piece of furniture steer clear. You don’t want the details to get destroyed by your orbital sander

Start with a courser grain sanding pad such as an 80 grit. This will cut down the sanding time. It will also really get all of those imperfections out as well. Scratches, dings and nicks you name it!

Once you have used an 80 grit sanding pad go in with a finer sanding pad such as 220 grit pad this will make it buttery smooth and finish it off! This step is not to remove any more paint or imperfections but to really polish off the surface.

When Have I Sanded Enough?

When you begin sanding the goal is not to completely take off all of the paint. Your goal is to sand until all the surfaces of your piece are smooth to the touch. Meaning all scratches and dings are smoothed out. But the areas still covered in paint are smooth and even.

use a sanding block for the detailed features of a dresser when sanding-how to paint furniture

Use your foam sanding block for all the curves, details, and nooks and crannies you couldn’t fit your orbital sander in or were to delicate for.

  • Foam sanding blocks are very pliable and will make it easy to get into all those little details!
  • A foam sanding block is also a little gentler even than a sanding pad or sheet. It will keep the integrity and details and your wood intact!

Step 3: Finishing Touches Before Furniture Painting Can Happen

Now that your furniture is sanded its time to prep it for paint.

This can be done in a few different methods for furniture painting to turn out beautifully:

  • use a leaf blower! My preferred method it will blast out all the dust and particles leaving your dresser nice and clean
  • A damp cloth or towel. This is gonna be messy and take a lot of cleaning and rinsing of your cloth. However, this will really get all the dust off.
  • Vacuum using a soft bristle vacuum accessory if you have it vacuum your entire piece of furniture clean!

Even when I use a leaf blower or vacuum to clean my furniture? I still clean it. I like to go back with a damp cloth and clean it for good measure! If you don’t ,sometimes the dust will mix with your paint and change the color of the paint. Which make your furniture application discolored or splotchy.

Once you have completed step three its time to bring out the paint!! I will be back next Thursday! I cant wait to show you how I painted this piece!

For the other posts steps and tutorials in my Introduction to Furniture Painting Course Start HERE.



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