Painting “perfectly good wood” is controversial. Don’t believe me? If you’re a DIY’er that paints furniture for any length of time, I’m certain someone will open their mouth and gasped, “OMG, you paint wood?! Why would you do that?” After all, solid wood is the almighty indication of quality furniture, and to slather on a superficial coat of paint??
Well–that’s just not right, in their opinions.
Recently a website featured my vintage chair makeover on their Facebook page. Remember the pretty little before and after?
It got tons of positive feedback (yay!!), but there were a couple nay-sayers in the bunch that just had to add to the convo, like this one:
“While it looks lovely and she [me] did a very good job, I just don’t understand why anyone would paint that beautiful wood. It was in perfect condition! I have a slightly similar chair that was my grandmother’s. Last year, I reupholstered it, but left the original wood as is – gives it so much more character that way.”
I wasn’t offended by her comment. After all, she said she liked the chair, right?
Actually, her comment got me thinking, though….
Is there a time when you should not paint wood?
And if so, when are the times when we should just leave a piece of wood furniture alone? I realized that there really are a few times when you should not paint wood furniture:
STOP If: Grandma is Rolling Over In Her Grave
Grandma would be P.O.’ed if she knew you were painting over her antique hutch. She adored it. And every time you think you might take a paint brush to it, you cringe at the thought of Grandma smacking the brush out of your hand.
If you can’t bring yourself to do it because of guilt, then just leave it alone. Maybe pay someone to strip it and re-stain it back to its original beauty. Or, if you want to try to strip and stain it yourself, check out my YouTube video tutorial on how to strip furniture and stain it. At least this way, Grandma will be smiling down at you instead of waiting to lecture you at the gates of Heaven :).
STOP If: You Just Bought a Can of Rustoleum
Yikes! Hold it right there! Some paint is just not made for furniture. That includes a can of tar-like Rustoleum paint. That’s what happened to a friend who had the great idea to paint this beautiful, expensive chair with black Rustoleum paint (see below).
Horrible black, chipped paint that destroyed the wood. She ended up hiring me to see if I could strip it. WHEW! Tough job of getting black paint out of nitty-gritty cracks. Just don’t paint wood if you’re going to use the wrong paint. My favorite is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, which is made for furniture and looks amazing on wood.
STOP If: You Haven’t Consulted Papa Google (or Mama eBay)
One splash of paint and you’ve just ruined something you could sell on eBay for three or four figures. Do your research first and find out how much your piece of furniture is worth before you paint it, especially if it just looks like something so rare and special.
This almost happened to me! Remember this amazing Anco Bilt vintage drafting table I found at a thrift store for $30? I had no idea it was valuable! I almost painted it!!!! Until I searched Google and found that one has sold for $325 on eBay! Now, it’s in my thrifted crafting room, “AS IS.” And I love it, flaws and all :).
If it looks really valuable, it probably is. Don’t paint it if you’ve got a real gem on your hands!
STOP If: You’re Just Trying to Be Cool and Trendy
Painted furniture is hot right now. But trends go in and out of style. Painting chevron stripes all over a perfectly good wooden buffet that had not one scratch on it may seem like a good idea. But in 5 years, it may be outdated. Then you may want to strip it, creating more work for yourself.
Only paint furniture because you love the look of it, not because you’re trying to emulate someone else’s look. Be true to your own decorating style.
With That Being Said……
Don’t just listen to me. Use your own gut to determine what you want to paint and not paint. These are merely guidelines for when you take on your next furniture painting project. It’s your house that you will be decorating, and you’ve got to live in it. Just throwin’ some tips out there for ya
My Next Project
So here’s what I am going to be painting next! It’s not my Grandma’s…..and it’s not an antique…..It’s just a lovely vanity begging for some TLC. It’s such a beauty!
UPDATE! UPDATE! The vanity is painted!!! Come check out the BEFORE and AFTER right here!
I picked it up from the thrift store some time ago. If you remember, I posted it on my Facebook page, asking if I should sell it on Craigslist “as-is” or should I keep it and refinish it first. You guys voted for keeping it, so I did!
For those of you that live locally here in Maryland, I am in the midst of getting booth space at Sweet Clover Barn in Frederick, Maryland! This vanity will be available there at the February 21 – 23 barn sale! Anyone that wants to come out and check it out, I’d love to have you! STAY TUNED because I’ll be posting the “AFTER” this weekend, hopefully!
Before You Leave
If people get a little sassy with you, here are a few articles you can read to throw things right back at ‘em. Enjoy!
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Your 2 Cents
Okay, now I want to hear from you. Do you ever think there are times when you should NOT paint a piece of wood furniture? Leave a comment below!