How-To: painting furniture 3 ~ painting tools

I’d like to take a moment to talk about what tools you’ll need to apply your paint…

Brushes: don’t waste your money on cheap ones. Cheap brushes lose their bristles during the painting process and don’t clean up as easily. They also give a crappy, brush mark appearance to your job.

I prefer something from Purdy or Wooster and if you care for them they should last many jobs. My favorite size of brush is the Sash (2”) angled brush. I also have on hand a 1” (in photo), 2 ½”, and 3”, however, the 2” is the one I use most. The angled brush allows me to really penetrate into crevices and allows me to paint the edge of moulding without needing to tape off the wall.

bristled brush used to paint in detailed areas

If using latex paint, brushes can be cleaned with warm water. Here is an excellent article about how to care for your brushes. I’ve learned my lesson from reading his advice, so need to be better about caring for my tools.

If working with latex paint, wet the brush lightly before dipping into paint to extend the dry time; if oil paint, use paint thinner before dipping. Stopping for work but don’t want to clean the brush? Then wrap in a slightly wet rag for latex, slightly damp with paint thinner for oil, and place in plastic bag (remove as much air as possible) and put it out of the sun.

If you want to lessen brush marks from laxtex paint, try Floetrol. I saw this recommended on another blog.

Tips for minimizing or eliminating brush strokes:

1.) Use less paint then you think you need. Dip your brush into paint about 1/3 of the bristle length. Don’t put in the entire brush. The common mistake I see hubby making is too much paint on the brush and this lends to more visible strokes. It also leads to more drips!

2.) Brush strokes can often be “feathered out” before the paint dries.  Do one straight stroke and come back, stroking the paint outwards from the original line. This often reduces or eliminates the initial brush stroke.

3.) Come back over it with a 4″ foam roller before the paint has dried. If I am painting large flat areas (front of dresser, top of dresser etc…) I start with a 4″ foam roller over a paintbrush anyway.

4.) Brush strokes are usually more visible on the priming coat. Since this becomes covered with another coat it generally doesn’t concern me. I just sand smooth and put on the next coat with a roller. Another option would be to prime with a spray.

5.) Brush strokes are often found where you begin and end. Begin the stroke off the project, “land” and then lift off at the end with one smooth slide.

Foam Rollers: for furniture painting, I find the 4” foam rollers for cabinets and doors fantastic for working over large flat surfaces such as table tops however, grooved and detailed areas I use a brush or a spray. They are also excellent for painting doors as their name suggests.

cabinet door foam roller to paint furniture

Foam Brushes: I rarely use these for an entire painting project anymore as they disintegrate too rapidly. However, they can be great to use for touchups and for squishing paint into corners and crevices. To avoid brush marks, apply paint with the tip and then feather away with the side of the foam applicator.

Speciality Brushes: Depending on how creative you are going to be you might need some brushes specifically to fit a purpose such as these stencil brushes.

Sprayer: this would be a machine you load in your paint of choice and then spray it. I’ve used one to paint a large trio of bookshelves and for a room’s walls. They have their big pluses and big drawbacks.

PROS – completes job quickly; gives an even spray; great for carved or highly decorative pieces, and makes a huge job be finished in little time. If I was working on a new house where the flooring hadn’t gone in yet, this would be my choice for painting walls or exterior. If I had a garage dedicated to painting furniture and could set up a corner with drop clothes covering the walls and a turntable for the furniture to sit upon, this would be my choice.

CONS – loads up with a huge amount of paint (actually lost half a gallon for the machine to load); spray goes everywhere (and I mean EVERYwhere! – be sure everything is taped off or you are working in a spray cabinet area); you need a professional machine – those sold at Lowes and Home Depot lead only to frustration; and not cost effective for small jobs.

Spraypaint: Working with a paintbrush is something I really enjoy. It’s like another person working in clay – I want to get my hands onto the project. It’s why I generally prefer liquid paint that is applied with a brush or roller over spraypaint.

PROS –
Fast
great for small jobs;
Great for projects that are metal or have a lot of curves, detail which would make using a brush difficult.
Has a lot of variety in speciality finishes (i.e. metallic, hammered, for glass etc…)
Works better over plastic, laminates, glass and ceramics then liquid paint.

CONS –
it’s far more expensive to use spraypaint primer project after project then to buy a can of primer. For example, for $10 I still have gray primer left in a can for many more projects vs. the one can of spraypaint primer which is already used up on one job (and didn’t even cover that one job).
The color choices are very limited and I prefer having paint chips to choose from.
Drips are extremly difficult to deal with as it dries so quickly.
Take the stench and the toxicity very seriously.
It also oversprays into other areas, despite drop cloths, as my garage will testify.
Disposal is a serious problem if your city requires payment for toxic paints (and mine does).
Used on metal, laminate or plastic, scratches will easily reveal the undercoat, original layer (I have yet to see one blog or DIY state how to avoid this – would love to know – Krylon recommends sanding prior to get a better attachment).

spray primer to cover pine knots

While I’m not a fan of spraypaint I have started using it on smaller projects just because of it’s ease of use. However, I still would not use it on a large project such as a dresser or a hutch. The cost factor alone would make it infeasible.

Spray paint links ~

FAQ on spraypaint from Centsational Girl

Video of spraypainting techniques by Centsational Girl

Pros and Cons of Spraypaint from Centsational Girl.