Sunday, July 31, 2011

1, 2, 3's of Refurbishing Roadside Furniture

Last weekend, my husband found this beautiful, solid wood coffee table out by the furniture drop-off (aka, outside the recycling/dumpster area) at our apartment complex. He ran up the stairs to get me to check it out before someone else grabbed it.

Not even 60 seconds later and another couple was scoping it out. Luckily, they thought it was a TV stand and decided not to take it. We, however, snatched (well, more like hauled) that baby and brought it up to our apartment.

Although I LOVE saving items from the dumpster and finding FREE goods, I am super paranoid about the possibility of bugs or other germs living in them.

We took the table straight up into our patio and I sprayed it down with a flea, tick miscellaneous pet spray…just in case. The last thing we wanted was to infest our home with fleas.

At first, we didn't think the table would need much work. Maybe some sanding and a coat shellac. But, since it was pitch-black night when we brought her up, we had no idea that she was in such bad shape. Plus, her natural wood finish would not match our already black and black/brown furniture.

So, I decided, with the help of this post, that I would sand her down, prime her and slap on a couple coats of black paint. I thought I could do this in two days top. However, I failed to calculate the intense summer heat, 110% humidity and that my hands and arms would hurt and cramp up. Bad.

Two hours each night after work was the max I could do before I could no longer move my arms. This was going to be a long journey.

Time to Get Busy!
First, I wiped down the whole table with some disinfectant wipes to remove any residue (there was some sugary sticky stuff on the top).

I then used some wood filler (I used Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Filler) to fill in all the knocks, scratches, cracks and dents. A couple of the legs had also taken a beating and this stuff worked great to mold them back into shape. 

This took a whole night and made me realize just how in bad shape this baby was in. I left it to dry over the next 22 hours.

Next, I used an extra course sand paper (I used P60) to sand off the excess woodfiller and any other snags and imperfections to get a somewhat smooth surface. This process made me feel like a wuss. I could definitely feel the burn doing this step.

I know now why a lot of tutorials suggested using an electric powered sander. If you have one of these or have access to one, I highly suggest using it. For this size of a project, your hands will cramp up if you are not used to this kind of work.

Then, I brushed off any excess residue, from the sanding and any environmental elements, so nothing would get stuck in the paint. (If you have animals, I would suggest not petting them and put on clean clothes before starting any of the painting steps. The hair will fall onto the furniture and will somehow make its way into the paint. I found this out the hard way).
Next, I applied a thin coat of grey primer (you should use grey primer when painting an item a dark color). After the first coat dried (about an hour or so), I took a medium and fine grit sand paper (I used P100 and P200) and gently sanded down any imperfections. This made the surface very smooth.

I then swept off any residue from the sanding and applied another coat of primer.

When applying the paint, you want to make sure that you do not clump a lot of primer onto your brush or painted surface. Since this piece had a lot of nooks and crannies (see the shelving and drawers), it was very easy to have drippage. There were a few spots that I did not catch and they dried, leaving a tacky drip line. Luckily, I was able to sand it down a bit.

It was now time to apply the black paint. I was almost there. I could see the home stretch. At least I thought. Even though this paint is amazing, it is very thin and requires a lot of thin coats. Again, since you do not want to create drippage. 

In order to keep this project as frugal as possible, I decided to untarnish the existing handles. The top of the handles looked fine, but the underside was either extremely dirty from hands or just tarnished. I found a recipe here that said to mix equal parts salt, flour and vinegar to remove tarnish. Believe it or not, it worked!

I mixed about 2 tablespoons of fine sea salt, apple cider vinegar and all-purpose white flour until it became a paste. I then gently rubbed it on all the pieces of the handles, spending most concentration on the underside that was grody. I let them sit for about five minutes and then rinsed them off with warm water. 

I also gave them a little bath with liquid dish soup, gently scrubbing them with a dish brush. Just in case. I dried them off and let them lay on a dish towel overnight to absorb any moisture.

After six days of hard work, I was pleasantly surprised with the final outcome. Again, here is the before shot:

And, for the after, can I please get a drum roll please.

Here is the before of our living room with our old, outworn (yes, that is clear packing tape on the leg) Ikea table:

And, here is the after!

I LOVE it! It was totally worth all the hard work!

Interested in refurbishing your own hand-me down or roadside furniture find? Here are some items you may need:

  • Large garbage bags or painter's mat to protect the floor of your workspace. (I cut open two large garbage bags) 
  • Disinfectant or baby wipes 
  • Towel or brush to remove sanding dust 
  • 1 course grit sand paper (I used P60) 
  • 1 medium grit sand paper (I used P100) 
  • 1 fine grit sand paper (I used P200) 
  • Wood filler (I used Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Filler) 
  • Putty tool 
  • Paint brush (I used a 2in good grade) 
  • Primer (I used Rust-Oleum's Painter's Touch Gray Primer) 
  • Paint (I used Rust-Oleum's Painter's Touch Semi-Gloss in Black)

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