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Dress up old furniture with new coat

by Jennifer Forker
Monday Jun 22, 2009
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Got the do-it-yourself itch but little time or cash to spare? Look around at the furniture you’ve already got. Some of it probably could use a refreshing coat of paint. In fact, a new color may put the "wow" back into a room.

Too timid? Don’t be.

"Everyone should have lots of courage and confidence," said Neil Wertheimer, editor in chief of Fresh Home, a new DIY magazine that features three table makeovers in its summer issue. "This is not hard. A piece of wood furniture is wood and screws and coating, and all three are easily fixed and replaced."

The key to a good redo is to take your time and work through all the steps. Wertheimer should know. He admits to skipping a critical step -- the primer -- in the past, and paying the price with a less attractive piece.

"The primer creates something for paint to adhere to so much better. It’s made to be sticky for paint," Wertheimer said. "Paint does not stick well to old finishes and old paint and to whatever else might be on there."

John Gidding, a judge on "HGTV’s $250,000 Challenge," has seen, and done, a lot of furniture rehabbing as an HGTV designer. He said primary candidates for a paint job often are a handed-down dining room table and chairs.

"The reason for this is they’re expensive," Gidding said. "You either get something really cheap or you take what your mom gives you."

Either way, these dining sets often don’t fit a couple’s style, and painting them can fix that.

Gidding offers one caveat: Don’t paint the antiques. Ever. They’ll drop in value. Instead, he suggests painting a room a color that complements the color of an antique piece to help it blend in, no matter how monstrous.

The first step in any wood-furniture rehab project, Wertheimer said, is to inspect the piece for structural and visual flaws.

Tighten loose legs, grease sticky drawers, buy new knobs, etc. Use wood putty to fill in any cracks or holes.

Then, lightly sand the piece and go over it with a tack cloth to remove the dust.

Finally, prime it, paint it and, if necessary, give it a protective layer of polyurethane.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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