I often hear folks who visit our store regularly joke with me about always having a paint brush in my hand... and yes it's true, I paint DAILY! I joked with my hubby on our honeymoon about how I was having paint withdrawals (really I was though!!). I love to paint! To me it is second nature and a huge part of my identity. Paint's ability to transform even the most hopeless piece into a beauty makes my heart burst with happiness. Though I'm young in terms of age, I have been painting for about 10 years (thanks mom for training me young). Throughout my years of trial and error, I have become pretty good at the whole painting thing. I learn new things daily, but there are a few solid bits of knowledge that I would love to share with our fans about transforming their own pieces.
My best advice to all of you beginner painting connoisseurs is to start with quality products... I cannot stress this idea enough! You will be amazed at how much better quality just your standard paint job will be just by using the proper products!
First and foremost, any great paint job begins with a great paintbrush! You can have every other thing going for you, but even the best painters can't work a stroke of paint with a crappy brush. Cheap brushes are great for oil based products such as stain or poly, applying products such as glaze and when trying to achieve a dry brushed look, but as a beginner these are all techniques and concepts you should worry about perfecting later. A cheap brush usually comes in the form of a "chip brush" or a brush that has huge almost plastic like bristles (as pictured below).
The feel of a quality brush is undeniable. They feel like silk to the hands! The bristles will be very soft, even and smooth. Purdy is my recommended brand and it can be purchased at Lowe's. I would suggest a 1 1/2" sized brush for most projects. A brush like this from Lowe's will probably cost you about $8, but if you keep it clean and treat it like a member of your family, it should last you FOREVER! I buy probably 2 new brushes a year but I paint every day and get side tracked and let paint dry in my brush on about half of those days! :)
The next item that must be addressed is a quality paint. For years I spent countless hours searching the oops paint shelf in every home improvement store looking for common colors to paint our refurbished pieces. I forever denied the trend of "furniture paint" and called companies who sold it silly. I had tried products in the past that helped contribute to this belief, but that was until I discovered Dixie Belle Paint Mineral (Chalk) Paint. After painting one piece with their product I was hooked! Now before you write this post off as a gimmick to get you to purchase their product only, let me explain! I have painted HUNDREDS of pieces. I suggest using Dixie Belle just because I know their product is super, but I would say that any reputable chalk paint company will do just as well.
The reason I suggest a chalk based paint is because of its bonding qualities to furniture. Sure paint+primer works great for you walls, but sheetrock is also porous and able to soak up paint because it has a paper coating, however wood that has already been finished does not. In most cases you will be painted furniture that has been previously finished in it's lifetime. Chalk paint's great bonding qualities means that in most cases sanding is not required, however I always suggest at least a quick light sanding to any piece just as a buffer to ensure your paint lasts.
My good friend and her great photography skills helped me capture a great sample for you guys to compare with your own eyes the difference that a quality furniture paint can make to your piece. This was a door to a piece I painted this week which was obviously white. I decided to paint it black and what better contrast for comparison.
On the left side you can see I have painted a few strokes with my favorite product, Dixie Belle Paint. On the right side I painted with a quality paint+prime that I purchased at Lowe's. Each side is paint with just one coat... What a difference huh? Using a great paint not only benefits you based on durability but also time. With the chalk paint I could probably get away with just one coat of paint (though I do suggest two). I tried a second coat over the right side after this photo and could still see spots of white though it so I know it would have taken at least three coats to cover the white. After I finish a project I always make sure to finish it off with a protective coat. Some people prefer wax while I always go for a satin water based top coat. A protective coat is the final way to ensure that your paint job is going to last long term.
Here is the actual before and after of this piece. I re-stained the top to a color that would match the pretty bar stools I found to go with it. New hardware and she's very easily one of my favorite before and afters!