Thursday, June 13, 2013

Painted Chair Tutorial

Last week I shared my kitchen chair transformation

Since this was my first big painted furniture project and I wanted them to come out perfect and last forever ( or at least a really long time), I did a lot of research before starting. Many people recommended using chalk paint, but after looking into it I thought better not try it for my first project. Chalk paint has a lot going for it. Probably its best selling point is that little prep is needed. You can just start painting over about any surface even if it has a shiny clear coat on top. It wasn't the paint that detoured me (although the price of it wasn't helping); it was the applying the wax that I wasn't sure I could do. After reading many posts and watching a few tutorials on YouTube, I realized there is a learning curve with the waxes. People recommended starting with just the clear wax until you get the hang of it. I knew I wanted to give these chairs an antique finish, and to do that with chalk paint you must use the dark wax in addition to the clear wax (which means more $$). Not good for my first major project. I also read that the wax must be reapplied every so often
to areas that get a lot of wear and tear. My kitchen chairs are going to get a lot of heavy use and didn't like the idea of having to re-wax, so I decided to use regular latex paint and stain to add the antique finish.

Here is what I used:
-Medium grit and fine grit Sandpaper
-Tack cloths
-Chip brush
-High quality brush (I bought an expensive Purdy one)
-Oil-based bonding primer (I like Zinsser)
-Latex paint in the color of your choice (I chose Sherman Williams hazel)
-Flotrol- optional but it makes the paint so easy to work with and reduces brush marks big time

Not Pictured:
-dark stain (I used what I already had- Minwax Stain and Poly in 1 Step in antique walnut)

Here is what I did step-by-step:
First I removed the cushions by unscrewing the bottom. I kept all screws in a plastic bag so they wouldn't get lost.
Then I sanded everything with 80 grit sand paper so the the primer would have something to grip. I used my power sander on the big flat parts to speed things up, but I had to do the legs and detail on the back by hand.
Next I put a coat of primer. I started my using a can of primer and a throwaway chip brush but I didn't like how thick it went on, so I sent Mr. Wonderful (you like that name huh?  I love how all these blogs use secret names for their hubbies so I decided to give Dedee a Pseudonym too. What do you think?) to get spray primer. Here he is helping out.

Next I sanded again with fine 220 grit sandpaper. Now it's time for color! I added Flotrol (recommended by
Centsational Girl) to the paint before starting. I believe this made a huge difference in the reduction of brush marks. I also sanded between every coat. This is crucial in getting a smooth finish. 3 coats and a few days later, my chairs were looking pretty AWESOME!

Finally for the scary part- applying stain for the antiqued finish. I was terrified to start. I loved my chairs and worked so hard on them. I'd cry if they got messed up. Everything I'd seen seemed pretty easy. Wipe on stain; Wipe off. (Remind you of the Karate Kid? Must be an 80's baby.) Once I worked up the courage to dip my brush on the stain, it was simple.

I used Minwax Stain and Poly in 1 Step in the antique walnut color. I chose that satin because I had it in the garage from working on my armoire, but I think any stain will work fine. I simply brushed it on using a chip brush making sure to get it in all the crevices, and then used a rag to wipe most of it off. I left some of the stain in the cracks on purpose. Warning- the stain changes the color of the paint slightly. It made the color warmer.

Make sure when you do this you work in small sections. Did you hear me? Work in small sections! This is critical. (I did this at first, but then I got overconfident and started working in bigger sections- mistake! I put too much on and it was drying faster than I could get it off) If you find that stain is tacky and hard to remove, you can re-coat that area with stain and then wipe immediately. I found that doing this made those tough areas easier. (I wish someone told me this before I panicked and did this)

After reupholstering the seats (more on that coming soon), screw them back on and voila!

A few tips:

-Use a high quality brush and flotrol to reduce brush marks.
-Sand using fine 220 grit sandpaper between every coat of paint.
-Apply thin layers of paint. You don't want it to get all gooey in the cracks and crevices.
-Place nails in the bottom of the chair legs to raise them off the ground for easier painting (Pinterest tip that worked)
-Work in small areas when applying the antique finish.
- If the stain gets too tacky and its hard to get off, apply a little more and it will come off easier


  1. Beautiful! I love your color choice and how much the detail stands out more. Love!


    1. Thanks Kristin! I really love the color too, so much that I'm painting an accent wall that color.

      I will be sure to visit you over at Exploring Domesticity :)

  2. Hi Pam! Your chairs turned out so well. I have made the same mistake when working with the stain. Working with small sections is the key. I found your blog on Penny Pinching Party and will be following your cute blog. I read about the start of your summer vacation. Are you a teacher? I am a psychometrist with a local school district and test for a month after the students get out of school. My summer began on Monday!! Hooray!! I also have a list of "to do" things! Please stop by Still Woods Farmhouse when you get a chance.
    Blessings from Still Woods

    1. Yay! You are my first real follower :) totally made my day.

      I am a teacher. I have been in first grade for 5 years and LOVE it. Best job ever. But by the end of the year I sure am ready for summer vacation.

      I will be sure hop on over to Still Wood Farmhouse.