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Things to consider when
choosing furniture to paint.


1. Does it have good bones?
Make sure the piece is not wobbly when you touch it.If it is, be aware that it may need to be pulled apart and re-glued in all the joints, this might be extra work you were not counting on and should be reflected in the price you pay for the furniture.

2. How old is the piece?
The age of the piece matters, older furniture may require more work to prepare prior to painting (see preparation). Newer furniture usually requires only a cleaning prior to painting.

3. Identifying what material it was made from.
Looking at the back of the piece usually exposes areas that you will be able to see if it is solid wood, plywood or press board with a wood veneer top or possibly laminate. Of course solid hardwood is the preferred. You can also check the side of the drawers to see if a dovetail configuration was used in the construction of the furniture. This is usually a sign of good quality.

4. What type of wood was used?
This is important to determine prior to painting because some woods are more susceptible to bleeding tannins through the painted surface if the surface is not sealed. Red Mahogany and Pine knots are among the worst. Such wood should be primed with a stain blocking primer. Other woods like Maple and Oak are less likely to give you trouble.

5. Analyzing the surface.
Is it smooth or rough and uneven ? Rough and uneven surfaces require sanding and or filling prior to painting. If it has veneer on the surface is it bubbled or unglued or missing in areas. This will definitely require more work and should be reflexed in the cost you pay for the furniture.

6. Is the surface bare or sealed?
If it is bare, you may choose to prime it prior to painting to avert possible problems that may show up after painting. If it is sealed - what was it sealed with? Lacquer or varnish are the most preferable. All you have to do is clean the surface and then paint. However, if it has wax or oils on the surface, they should be removed prior to painting to avoid cracks and stains from forming in the newly painted surface (see Preparation). You can test for wax by scraping it with your finger nail or using Cottage Paint Clean and Prep which will quickly determine if wax is present.

7. How much does it cost?
This is definitely something to consider if you are planning to resell the unit. You have to consider the time and materials you will use to restore this piece. If it is for yourself, it then really comes down to how much you love it. Don't be afraid to barter- most dealers have a buffer for a price reduction of at least 10%. It never hurts to ask.



How I assessed this piece before I bought it. Asking price $600


Does it have good bones?
Definitely, no wobbles, pieces missing or broken details. Beveled glass in great condition. I believe someone had tried to restore this unit but failed so they painted it badly.

How old?
I was told it was from the 1930’s but I am not an expert in this field. All the ornate detail is hand carved. Very unique and interesting piece. It was love at first sight!

Materials used ?
Mostly solid wood construction. Veneered plywood on the back of the unit which is normal.

Wood used?
Mahogany, I guess I am not painting this one white. Mahogany bleeds terribly - better to use a darker color. If you painted it white it would most probably turn pink in a few months. Been there, done that!

Surface condition?
Had to remove the peeling paint, wasn’t so bad, it came off in sheets. Needed some extra TLC but some pieces are worth it!

Was the surface sealed?
Kind of, so I cleaned and primed it with our products just to make sure.

Overall, it comes down to how much you love the piece and is it worth the work involved to do a good job? The is also a consideration and I was able to talk them down to $400. SOLD!

"I know I said I wasn't going to paint it white, but I did the inside only and a bit of the trim and, yes, it is turning a little pink. It is what I can "Perfect Imperfections" and I am willing to live with it."

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