My original post of this can be seen here at Annoyed Army Wife's bomb-a blog.
I adore Michelle. Seriously. Annoyed Army Wife makes me so happy and when she emailed me asking to blog for her I was like, "Duh!" Even better is that she gave me a topic. She's the best.
You see, Michelle has a problem. When I was at her adorable house back in November & December (yes, I got to go TWICE!), I saw this piece of furniture. It is the cutest dresser ever and I was fawning over it for quite a while.
She let me know that this particular treasure has been painted no less than 14 times. I know right? That's a lot. I love her even more for that. Did you know you don't HAVE to strip or sand paint down on a piece of furniture before painting it again? You can, and in some cases its best if you do, but it really isn't necessary. Depending on the look you are going for will help to determine the process you should go through when refinishing something. Now I won't go into refinishing a project in stain too much because that is so not my forte and to me, finding treasures and slapping on some new fabulous shade of paint is the way to go.
Michelle let me know she doesn't want to just paint over it again so there are two things she can do to thin out the 14 other layers before giving this dresser a face lift. One option would be to sand it down with a power sander and just get it smoothed out. I usually lightly sand wood furniture I plan on painting with a power sander and then wipe it down several times to make sure there are no left over particles before I paint. The other option would be to strip the wood completely. This is a bit more tedious but fairly effective if you have the patience for it.
You need to choose a varnish and paint stripper. There are two options, oil or water based. If you choose to use a water based for this particular project be prepared to re-apply it a few times. It is less effective at stripping multiple layers at once but is also the perfect way to go if you want to do your project inside. Since you are in Utard, inside is probably easiest and warmest. If you are able to refinish your furniture in a very well ventilated area or outdoors, I recommend using the oil based, it smells nasty but it works better and quicker. Also purchase a putty knife or steel wool scraper because this will help in removing the finishes if there are any below the paint. When scraping off the finishes go in the direction of the wood grain if you plan on staining. Since you're painting it again, don't worry about it at all. Strip the wood down a few layers and then take a power sander to it. If your piece is rather large, strip the finishes in sections. Make sure you take note of drying times before sanding, they'll be listed on the varnish stripper.
After sanding, you can use sanding sealer, although it isn't necessary and little ol' me NEVER does. If your piece has knicks or holes that you don't want there, go to your local hardware store and pick up a wood filler. There are different types for different wood types and colors. Pick one looking closest to the natural wood color of your piece and follow application directions on the package. Again Michelle, you won't need to worry about the color of the filler since its getting painted over. Afterward, sand with 150 grit sand paper till its smooth and blends in with the existing wood.
I never ever worry about wood filler because I like my furniture looking old. Knicks and scratches add character in my eyes and the more beat up something is, the more I like it.
Now I'll tell you about brushes. Whether you are painting or staining, the same sized brushes can be used but when I've used stain, I use an old rag or towel and just douse it before slapping it on the wood. Stain freaks a lot of people out and honestly, up until my latest project, I was a stain virgin and terrified. Lovelies, when staining, don't be scared. Worst case scenario you sand it off and start again. When you paint, its pretty self-explanatory. Don't just glop it on, use long, even strokes, and be sure to let each coat dry. As for stain, water based are easier to clean up and are much better for doing a project inside but the oil based stains do work better. When it comes to choosing brushes, I suggest getting a few different sizes, a 4", 2", 1" and small detail brush. They pretty much cover all the bases. Also don't get the synthetic bristled ones. You know the fake hair or plastic bristled ones. Invest in a good paint brush and you'll use it forever. Also consider a roller, not the sponge rollers but a bristled hair-like roller. They give you a nice even finish as well.
Depending on the type of paint you used, you may also want to use a finish clear coat. You don't have to go and splurge on a clear varnish or anything just go and get the clear acrylic spray paint. It is amazing and helps protect from scratching or scuffing. For stained projects use a polyurethane that you apply with a brush but realize additional sanding may be required to smooth it out.
That's pretty much it! I know it sounds like a long process and a little intimidating but once you've refinished your first piece of furniture, you'll realize how quick and easy it really is. Plus, think of all the money you'll save doing it yourself and how much pride in that freshly painted beauty you'll have.