Making Sure Your Pieces are Safe to Bring into Your Home (or Someone Else's Home)
Over the weekend, there was a bit of chatter here locally about a disgruntled DIYer who purchased some "project pieces" only to find out later they were infested with bugs. It got me thinking about my process and how I have been fortunate enough to not have that happen to me....Was I just lucky or is there something in my process that helps to avoid such a disaster?
I thought sharing the steps I take before and during one of my reloves might help one or more of you avoid this kind of mess.
First off, I've brought pieces home from yard sales, thrift stores and Craigslist. If the piece strikes my fancy, I first consider the price. If it seems reasonable, then the drawers start coming out! Yep! Drawers are a big tell for me! Are they dovetailed, are the guides wood on wood, etc? Every drawer is removed to make sure everything is in good working order. If at that stage there is any infestation, you would know it!
Once I give it the A Okay, it gets loaded into our SUV and at that point I get a good look at the underneath of the piece. If those nasty pests aren't in the drawers, you may see them hiding underneath the case piece. I've had an occasional spider along with webs visible, but that's to be expected, especially if it's been stored in someone's garage.
Once it gets home, we take a picture of it in the driveway. At that point, I usually give it one more go over. At this step I'm starting to review it for possible options to relove it. How damaged is the top...can it be stripped and restained, for example.
And now for the process....The piece has been in my garage (which I must admit is not hermetically sealed!) for quite some time and now it's showtime! She gets 'moved on deck' as my hubby and I affectionately refer to it's starting block. The vision for the relove is set and usually involves stripping the top.
Down to the bare, pristine wood! If the wood is in good shape, the piece then gets flipped over and reinspected and prepped.
Sorry for the messy shot of my shop, but this is the real deal....so why try prettying it up? :) The two pieces in the previous picture were going to the same home with a custom layered process, so they needed to be done at the same time so the technique would be identical.
Each piece is inspected again, and thoroughly cleaned. Yes, even the underneath gets a good wiping down. Again, if there were anything ominous lurking on these pieces, I would know for sure by now.
In the above picture, do you happen to notice the blue painter's tape meticulously placed around the the top of this vanity? I'd be so embarrassed to have a finished piece loaded into someone's SUV to see sloppy paint lines underneath the lip of the piece. Clean lines....attention to detail. If you have a steady hand and can paint without painter's tape, then go for it. But I start rocking out to music, get lost in my thoughts and my paint brush can get a flyin'! :) The painter's tape keeps those lines clean and allows me to rock and roll!
Next are the drawers. If you've been following along with me for awhile, you know I have a serious obsession with clean drawers.
They are hard to see in this picture, but each drawer has been removed, along with the hardware. They are scrubbed, sometimes stripped (if there is too much nail polish or whatever else we discover!) and refinished. I personally don't paint drawers or line them. But each piece leaves here with pristine clean drawers.
The sides are taped off just as the top is, so there are always clean lines from the drawer fronts to the sides. These new owners want to know you have taken time and care for their forever piece.
At this stage, the painting process begins with the sanding, painting, sanding, painting. When it's time for the top coats and finishing touches, we bring the piece into my home. The cold winters here and hot, humid summers are not a good environment for applying top coats. At this stage, I am 100% confident I am bringing in a clean, safe piece.
That's the tall chest you saw upside down in my garage....And here's the matching dresser....
I read a post from a very well respected blogger about a year ago. She does gorgeous work and when she was loading a vintage, depression era buffet into someone's truck, she discovered it was infested with termites. Her process never included turning the piece upside down, so she never noticed those nasty creatures. Don't let that happen to you...Please make sure each piece gets several thorough inspections along the way so you have confidence in knowing your masterpiece is safe to go to it's new, and hopefully, forever home!
Over the years, I've had the pleasure of painting some lovely, but tired, mahogany pieces. The quality of furniture built in the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s is amazing and my heart sings whenever I get my hands on one. But if you've ever attempted to paint a reddish mahogany piece, you know there is a high probability of getting the reddish dye to seep through your paint and mess up your hard work. It is referred to as bleed through (and affectionately known as a pain in neck!).
The dresser below was not only a reddish mahogany veneer, but it was peeling like crazy! This turned into quite the project!
The classic bowfront hepplewhite styled dressers are one of my favorites....but I know there will be massive bleed through...
But you'd never know after seeing it all painted and prettied up! :)
This three piece set was definitely getting some shellac!
I couldn't find the "before" picture of this lovely French dresser, but I'm guessing you get the idea by now!
The dresser below was not red mahogany, but a brown walnut. It still presented bleed through....So you never know when it is going to strike!
The 1950s Drexel buffet was painted in layers of French Linen and Paris Gray, but still needed something to stop the bleed through. It's not only useful for when you are painting with whites, but even deeper saturated colors can't cover up the bleed through.
And these mid century modern end tables definitely need a stain blocker.....
Even though is cherry secretary was painted in layers of blues and greens, I tested the paint technique on a drawer to see if any red was peeping through. There was, so I reached for my remedy.....
Which is good old fashioned shellac!
It's been a great 'go to' product, but it has such a strong odor, I've dreaded using it every time.
I was so thrilled to hear General Finishes was introducing a water based stain blocker!
It spreads on beautifully and smoothly...very similar to their milk paints. Because it is water based, I was concerned it wouldn't sand smoothly, but a little 220 between each coat smoothed it out nicely.
It is recommended to wait a couple of hours between each coat, and a full 12-15 hours before applying your paint. I wasn't thrilled with the necessary wait time before getting on with the fun part of painting, but managed my project around it (worked on prepping another piece!).
Do you want to see a piece that got the #General Finishes Stain Blocker?
Boom! 2 coats of stain blocker, 2 coats of Snow White Milk Paint!
And the best part is there is NO ODOR and it cleans up with water! Woohoo!
The gang at GF did send me this sample as it wasn't available at my local retailer. It's no secret I am a fan of the General Finishes product line and my opinions are based solely on my experience with the product. I am so thankful they've introduced it!
If you've tried the new Stain Blocker, I'd love to hear what your experience was with it!