Furniture Painting Tips + Our New Shoe Bench

If you’ve been following along you know that earlier this year we took on some home renovations and turned a side room in our house into a (very large) laundry.  It took us nine years to save up to replace the windows, floors, repair the roof and move the plumbing for the washer/drier but the space came out amazing!

After moving the washer and drier out of the hallway we had the perfect space for a large hall tree to store our shoes (we have a strict no shoe rule in the house) and hang our keys.  However, the renovations also maxed out our budget so there wasn’t a lot of money left for a fancy custom made unit from a local carpentry shop.  To keep our entry tidy, my very handy and talented husband spent a weekend in the garage measuring, cutting and nailing together a beautiful bench with cubbies to keep our shoes organized.

Since carpentry is not one of my skills I didn’t have a whole lot to contribute to that part of the project – other than hauling this impressively built piece of furniture from the garage to the house.  Note – it’s heavier than it looks.

Painting, however, is something I know a little something about!  After we bought the house, my husband and I made an agreement.  I would make the painting and decorating decisions for the house (with the exception of the bedroom – that stays beige) provided that I did all the painting myself.  Not a problem!  After the construction of our shoe bench was finished, it was my turn.

I still remember my high school history teacher teaching us about the 5 P’s – Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.  As with any painting project, the prep work really is 95% of a good looking result.  Good thing I discovered my favourite new product – Durham’s Water Putty.

It’s been sitting on the shelves of our shop for decades but to be honest I never gave it much thought.  On this project, I mixed it with water to create a paste and used a plastic spreader to fill nail holes and gaps in wood joints to create a seamless look.  It was magical!

After about an hour I came back to sand the putty smooth with 220 grit paper.

Nothing likes to stick to sanding dust (it’s like a fine layer of flour) so I took a damp cloth and wiped the entire cabinet clean.

Now it was on to the painting!  Here are the supplies I needed.

A lot of paints come in self priming formulas these days but they’re not always great for painting raw wood.  There’s an acid in wood knots called tannin and if it’s not properly sealed you will see the knots start to bleed through in a few months.   To prevent these stains, I applied two coats of Zinsser Bin Shellac Primer on our bench.  It has a very strong smell (ventilate) but dries very quickly (30 minutes) and seals tannin bleed.  I used a disposable roller and a foam brush for the smoothest finish.  NOTE:  This primer dries VERY fast so there isn’t a lot of working time.  When you use it as home don’t brush or roll over the same spot too many times to avoid roller/brush marks.  Also, the alcohol in the primer will eat through the foam so have a couple on hand for larger project or use a velour cover instead.

After the primer dried it was time for the finish coat.  I chose Muralo Ultra Satinflow Waterbourne Enamel because there’s no smell, water clean up and a quick dry time.  It’s a self leveling paint so it dries without any roller or brush marks.  Plus the formula is designed to withstand a lot of abuse so it will stand up to the traffic in our entry.  I chose Benjamin Moore Templeton Gray HC-161 (my husband groaned at more grey) to match the rugs and floors and we lined the inside with cedar planks to keep our shoes smelling great.

I found that the foam roller I used for the primer created fine bubbles with the finish paint so I switched to a velour cover instead.  It has very fine hairs so the finish still comes out smooth.  I kept the foam brush though. After the first coat, it was starting to look like something!

After four hours, the paint was dry enough for another coat.  Even though the paint was dry later on that evening, we waited a full 48 hours to put our shoes into it and will wait a few weeks before we start to clean it.  Remember, paint may be dry to the touch but that doesn’t mean it’s fully cured – or has reached its full chemical hardness.  During that time it’s more prone to chipping, peeling or being damaged with harsh chemicals like household cleaners.

So what does the final project look like?  Tada!

Do you have a furniture painting question?  Leave us a comment below or visit the shop!

If you liked this post don’t forget to check back next week to see what’s new on the blog but if you can’t wait  our Facebook page is updated daily with amazing spaces, design tips and DIY projects.  Or get a sneak peak at life behind the scenes at the paint store (and more stunning rooms) on our Instagram page here.  

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