Updating our 20+ year old bed frame with paint (part 1)

We bought a four poster, king sized bed from Ethan Allen about 3 years into our marriage. It’s been with us now for over 21+ years! When we moved to Tulsa and was stuck in an apartment for six months, the bed had to be hauled up with ropes over the balcony to be brought into the bedroom as the stairs tight corner wouldn’t have allowed it to fit!

The original paint was a cream but over the years it wore poorly and became stained and dirty. The original paint yellowed in areas. Its been badly in need of a paint do over for a decade or more! And for some time I’ve been considering the color black.


First step: Cleaned the surface with Denatured Alcohol. Do this in an open area with a LOT of ventilation. Wear gloves and ventilator (if doing inside). This removes the topcoat surface (i.e. polyurethane, wax etc…). I did sand lightly as this is a project that is important to me and I want a very nice smooth finish.

Second step: Using our paint sprayer, I applied about 3 light coats of Zinsser’s Bulls Eye 123 Primer for all surfaces. This was diluted by 1 cup to 5 Tablespoons water for my electric paint sprayer (HomeRight sprayer) and I actually used the entire quart of primer for this project.

I first sprayed one side of the headboard with it leaning up against a privacy fence with plastic behind it. About an hour later, I flipped it and sprayed the other side. Once dry, it went horizontal on two sawhorses to get one side sprayed, and after it dried, the other side. Because of the decorative posts, it took different angles to get it evenly covered with primer.

A few times I didn’t keep my spray gun moving and got a drip or two, so I did sand again lightly to clear up those mistakes. The best thing to do is to keep the gun MOVING and think LIGHT COATS. It is far better to keep going back and doing another LIGHT coat then doing a thick one and then having a gloppy surface finish.

Below, the post on the right are with the 2 coats of primer, the one on the left with the first light coat.


As you can see fro m the photos, in each photo the left one still shows some of the cream and grime, while the one on the right has a nice, even coat. Also from these photos you can see that the twists on the posts would have been difficult to get nice smooth coverage using a brush or roller. Hence the spray gun was a necessity for this project!


Some thoughts on this primer – I bought it because it specifically said it would work with latex paint. The odor was far less then Kilz. In reading the reviews on Lowes for this product some people complain about it not giving a flat white the first try…  Well anyone with real paint experience knows that several light layers is better then one heavy – and that primer is just a base for a top coat.

Also, if you are spraying new wood, you should know first to use a wood conditioner, especially if the wood has knots which might later bleed through.

For me, I’m pleased with the product. It adhered to the wood very well. The coverage was even and the paint surface felt like it would give grip to the black paint I would be spraying on top. It dried quickly and I was able to work with it even though the humidity was high (over 50%, under 70%, check the can) which allowed me to get the product moved along even though the weather was uncooperative.

Because this project has ornamentation and has to be flipped for other visible sides to be done, allow a day to get it primed before moving on to the next step.

Next blog post will be about the black finish (which may take a few days as I’m waiting for the weather to clear off).