Friday, January 3, 2014

Very important lessons in stripping and staining

Another post that I cannot think of a song title for.
I have moved more than ten times in thirteen years. With each move, I repurpose furniture. For the move out of our house into the condo, which required some very committed downsizing, I knew that I wanted to use an antique bow front chest from my living room as the chest of drawers in my bedroom. This was the only painting project I accomplished during the sale of the house, and this is one that got worse before it got better.
When I bought it from an antique store, it was painted robin's egg blue. You can see in the living room photo from this blog post that I painted it a moss green (in a make your own chalk paint experiment) to compliment the turquoise table on the other side of the fireplace.
Y'all know that my motto, especially when it comes to DIY, is that I am good at everything I haven't tried yet, and that anything crafty has to come with a "what the hell" bravery. I found a tutorial on Pinterest about using a product called Citristrip and garbage bags to strip paint and finish from furniture. I am convinced that this was the right method, but I misappropriated the amount of time this step would take, how messy it would be, and how discouraged I would get.
I applied the stripper liberally with a paint brush in sections that I then pressed garbage bags onto. This prevents the stripper from drying and allows you to leave it on longer to strip more.
You can leave it on for as long as 24 hours, but twelve hours later, I had this....

...which I then attacked with a plastic spackle paddle.

At which point I must stop and tell you everything I was not prepared for. Sometimes when you pull back the trash bags, the stripped paint would come with it. Whether that happened or I scraped, I was still dealing with WET and SYRUPY stain. It was an unholy mess. The paint would scrape like glue off your hands (you know you did that in grade school) but it would be wet with stain, so it would make gobs. Gobs that ate through gloves, until I got some industrial strength ones halfway into the project, and stained my fingers, hands, arms, and clothes.
After one round of Citristrip, I had this. I could have sanded then, but I wanted a very stripped piece of furniture, because I wanted NO RED in the final product. So another coat of stripper went on...
For which I was smarter, with tough gloves and an old towel in my lap, on which I would wipe off the paddle after I ran it across the surfaces of the piece. That left me with this, unsanded...

...and this, sanded.

I had read several blogs extolling the virtues of Polyshades, which is stained polyurethane, combining steps. I'm nothing if not a fan of wisely cutting corners, so I bought some in a dark walnut color.
First coat...

Second coat.

I had smartly done just the drawers to check it out. Two problems. Remember when I said I did not want the piece to be red? This picture underrepresents the redness of that Polyshades stain. Second, Polyshades takes a while to dry, and the bloggers who had used it did so for projects indoors. I was clearly outdoors, so air particles were sticking in my finish as it was drying.
Discouraged, disheartened, and sick to death of this chest, I schlepped into Home Depot, where I teared up in the aisle of stain. A lovely young HD angel approached me, in spite of my emotional state, and upon listening to my recounting what a nightmare experience I was having with this furniture, recommended that I go home, lightly sand the piece to get it open to absorb finish, and do an ordinary, brush-on-wipe-off stain. In Ebony. Which she assured me would not make it black.
The Angel was right. This is one coat of Ebony stain.

This is two coats, which is exactly what I was going for. And because you only let the stain sit for 3-5 minutes (I left each coat on for four, working around the piece in sections), air particles don't have time to stick. And what little there may be wipes off when you wipe off the stain.

After coating it with two coats of fast-drying polyurethane and updating the hardware with Rub-n-Buff in Antique Gold, I moved this into my bedroom shortly before we moved out:
Which looks ebony but is not. The true tint is in the first photo above. This project was a testament to if at first you don't succeed (which is likely in DIY), try again. Vow not to stain furniture any more because painting is so much easier. And cry in Home Depot.

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

I party with Remodelaholic

1 comment:

  1. If I cry to you will you be my DIY Angel?? We could get into some serious trouble with a little time on our hands. :-)