We tell first-time furniture painters to be sure to clean their piece before they paint. They always nod in agreement....but we suspect a lot of them are secretly wondering if we're a little crazy when we tell them to wash their furniture.
Most of us know how to CLEAN stuff. We know how to DUST furniture....maybe even how to POLISH furniture. But the words "wash" and "furniture" aren't often used together....except when you're a furniture painter. We thought we'd put together a quick tutorial to show you we really mean WASH when we say "clean your furniture."
Wood is a solid, but it's porous - it will pick up dust, dirt, odors, wax and oils - from the room, from our hands, and from the furniture polish we use to dust it. If it's been sitting for any length of time, it might be a cozy home to some spiders and their egg sacs. If it's been in a smoker's home, it's probably got a layer of nicotine coating it.
In order for your paint (milk paint, chalk paint, enamel paint, etc.) to adhere well, you need to give it a clean, dry surface to start with. A few pointers to keep in mind:
Trisodium Phosphate (aka TSP) and TSP substitute products are our go-to products for cleaning surfaces. We are especially fond of Krud Kutter and Dixie Belle's White Lightning. Both of these products are effective at stripping oils and grime off used furniture. (Be safe and wear gloves - they will strip the oils out of your hands, too!)
Krud Kutter also makes a heavy-duty "Gloss-Off" deglosser if you're dealing with a high-gloss finish. Krud Kutter is available in premixed and liquid concentrate form from most large hardware chains. We carry Dixie Belle White Lightning powder along with all other Dixie Belle paints and products in our shop. If you're doing a lot of stripping (furniture that is), an inexpenisve plastic spray bottle and concentrated powder or liquid will clean a lot of pieces, and save you some serious coin.
After you've sprayed your piece, wipe it down with water and a clean rag (or even hose it down in some drastic cases). When you're sure all the dirt and cleaner residue is gone, let it dry and it's ready to paint. A few final notes:
If you're wanting to learn how to paint furniture, check our class schedule and sign up for hands-on instruction and tips to paint like a pro. That's all for now - next time, we'll show you some tips and tricks for scuffing up your piece before painting!
Meet the Authors
We're Terry & Sherri, known by some as the Southern Pickin' Chicks. We do love to pick, and paint, polish and press our finds before we offer them to our fans and friends. Follow along on our adventures!