Preparing your ‘substrate’ (the surface you are going to paint), is probably THE most important part of refinishing a piece of furniture.
We have all heard tell of magical paint potions that allow you to refinish anything with no preparation at all, be it melamine, glass, wax, oil paint, varnish or ceramic. These claims may hold up to an extent. But what about durability and long term use?
As with many things in life, you get out of it what you put in. When it comes to refinishing furniture, there are plenty of shortcuts and tricks, but skipping the prep isn’t one.
As Jennylyn says “Prep – ah my favourite 4 letter word! I always stress how important prep is, because it is the basis of everything, it’s like trying to build a house on a poor foundation, it will eventually fall over! However if you spend the time to do it properly, use the right materials and follow professional specs for building, it will last a good 100 years! The same goes for paint! If you try to just paint over something thinking that it will solve any pre-existing conditions or issues with the surface, it won’t. Whilst it may temporarily “cover it up” and look pretty good, the longevity of it is questionable. So why do anything without full effort? PREP is really easy! Just follow this Step by Step card we have done up at Fusion Mineral Paint to take away all the confusion with what exactly prep is, and what surfaces need prep. With so many variables out there, laminates, wax coatings, Teflon sprayed everything resistant coatings, etc the list goes on an on. There is no One Size fits All so to speak! Each piece needs to be assessed and prepped accordingly, no matter what paint you use prep is key! Bu its not something to be feared, it’s very easy and straight forward, and really takes very little time, however if you’re going to put your name on a piece of work- shouldn’t it be the best piece of work possible? “
Take the example below. Because this item was painted with no thought for the wood underneath, (which is Teak – known for oils and tannins), and the surface was previously oiled or varnished, the paint had no ‘Key’ to adhere to. As you can see it is chipping and peeling, and not in the way we love.
I should say at this point that this example was painted with one of those ‘no prep’ paints, according to the instructions.
If only it had been lightly sanded, and a light coat of shellac based primer applied.
But it wasn’t. On the plus side, it is a great example of what happens when you fail to prepare…you know how that saying ends, right?
So How Should You Prep To Paint?
Prepping the item you are going to paint does not need to be difficult. Often it is simply a matter of cleaning and lightly sanding, (sometimes called burnishing).
If the surface is super shiny, give it a quick sand to create a key. This gives your paint something to stick to.
If there is any grease or oil, use a degreaser to clean.
Check for wax – use your thumb nail to scratch the surface – if it rumples and lifts, you have wax. To take the wax off, use mineral spirits or the Fusion Mineral Paint Odourless Solvent (available only in Canada).
If you are painting melamine, glass or a shiny surface you may want to use a product such as Ultragrip from Fusion to help the paint stick.
If you think the item will bleed stain through your new paint apply a coat of shellac based primer – I like Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Based White Interior\Spot Exterior Primer and Sealer and Zinsser Bulls Eye Shellac, though the Bulls Eye often needs sanding after application.
See the images below so you recognise them in stores.
The more you paint and as you gain experience will intuitively know what a piece needs, but if you are ever unsure about the surface or the likelihood of bleed through, test a spot.
Fusion Mineral Paint is superb at sticking (fusing) to most surfaces, but as long as you remember that any paint is only as good as the surface you paint it on and follow our Preparation suggestions, you will achieve a fantastic finish every time.
If you want the full low down on Prep – the long version is what I mean – I have laid it all out for you here.