Ok ladies, and perhaps gentleman or gentlemen, I have told you over and over that I would do more tutorials, how-tos, etc. So I have decided to start a new series entitled “How Do I (Fill in the Blank)?” I have chosen this title because I am not going to pretend that I know everything and that what I do is the best way to do things. I am self-taught through experience, my parents’ advice, and lots of googling. Where would I be without my good pal google? I tell you where- lost in a world lacking vital information! Anyhow, Today I am going to talk about prepwork, before you even prime or paint the piece. Warning, this post will have no pretty pictures to enjoy. But I hope it helps those of you with questions. Please leave a comment after this post with topics you would like covered.
So let’s pretend I have just purchased a dresser to paint. How do I get it ready?
1. Check out the hardware. Do you like it? Will you keep it on this piece? If not, with what will you replace it? You must ask yourself these questions, because if you want to change it out, you may need to fill old screw holes with wood filler, and you will want to do this before you sand. If you choose to keep the hardware you have on it, then you just remove it and save it for when the dresser is ready for its jewelry again. If you are replacing it and holes need to be filled, remove the old hardware, and fill the holes with wood filler. I use Elmer’s. I have used others and this is just my favorite. And the little cow on the label is cute to look at while you work. I fill the holes more than enough, leaving excess on the outside so that when I sand I can smooth it out to match the surface. When you are done with the filler, replace the lid tightly, and use a mallet to make sure it’s on as tight as can be. Otherwise, next time you go to use it, you may find a tub of hardened wood filler. I have done that before, and had to toss it. It’s like throwing away money.
2. Now you are ready to sand the dresser. Don’t bother cleaning it before or wiping it down. It’s going to get really dusty in this process, so don’t bother. I sand my pieces outside for safety. I was doing it inside for a bit due to a neighbor who is less than nice, but since he can have parties til midnight and leafblow his roof daily (OCD?), I decided I could sand in the middle of the day if I needed to. It’s best to wear a sanding mask. I sometimes forget, and then blow my nose and see brown in the tissue. Gross. And unhealthy. But I would recommend that you learn from my mistakes. Now for the actual sanding, I use an orbital sander. It’s powerful and doesn’t take long. I typically use around 120 grit sandpaper when I am prepping for paint. If I plan to refinish, You need ridonkulously high grit sandpaper… or at least 220. But for painting purposes, you need the surface to be roughed up enough, but it doesn’t need to be down to the bare wood. You want to make sure that you sand off all of the shine basically. As for the detailed areas that are harder to reach, you can use a Dremel tool if you have one as it is fantastic for getting in those nooks and crannies. If not, just use your good old hands. They will work just as well, and your arms will look great in a tank top! If you are doing it by hand, you will want a higher grit than 120- I would suggest 200 grit at least.
3. Cleaning the dresser… aka, my least favorite part. This step is necessary, but the least fun. There are no cool power tools involved, and no creativity involved. It’s a necessary evil. The best way to be thorough is to remove all of the drawers from the body of the piece. Inside the body of the dresser, I use cleaning products such as Endust or Mrs. Meyers to just wipe all the surfaces clean of debris and dust. I also wipe down the inside of the drawers. On the rare occasion that there is icky gunk stuck in a drawer, I use my pant scraper to remove it. The outside of the dresser is another story. I DO NOT USE ANY PRODUCTS ON THE OUTSIDE. The reason for this is that if the products you use contain any oil or wax, the primer will not adhere as well. I simply take a damp rag and wipe it down. Then I let it dry before I prime it. While the drawers are out of the dresser, now is also a good time to rub soap on all of the runners and places where wood rubs wood when drawers are opened and closed. Soap is amazing! It really helps all the drawers glide smoothly, and they smell shower fresh! And you can just use any old bar of soap. I use Irish Spring, because it’s what my husband had on hand ( I wasn’t about to use my own hand made bar!), and I like the smell of it.
So there you have it. Now you are ready to prime your dresser! Next week I plan to do a post on the next step- priming. Stay tuned! I am heading out of town this weekend and don’t return til next Monday, so it might not be a regular Monday feature. We’ll see. I hope this post has been informative for you and not too especially boring. Please comment and let me know questions. I will reply in comment form so everyone else can see the answer as well. And let me know what you want to know. Thanks for being patient with me, and sticking with me!