Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Oh crap, it's laminate. Oh well!

So I found this little white cabinet on one of my much traveled Facebook yard sale sites for $20. I couldn't tell what it was made of from the picture online and was hinging my purchase on whether it was wood or laminate. The previous owner stated it was wood so I packed the kids into the minivan and drove all the way to Kittery ME to pick it up. I get it in the van and guess what? Its laminate!
Here it is in all it's plasticky glory
 I don't think the woman I bought it from was trying to be deceptive but rather had no idea what the difference was. I desperately needed a storage solution for my entryway and this little cabinet was exactly the right size and compared to the much smaller $80-ish unit I wanted at Ikea I figured 'oh well, I drove all this way right?' so home it came.

It had been in use about a month or so before I got the chance to do anything with it but I used that time to do a little research on how to paint laminate. We've all seen the Pins, they're all over Pinterest! One thing they ALL had in common was priming is a NECESSITY. I lightly sanded it a little bit just to kind of rough up the smooth surface so that the primer would have something to stick to and then primed it. I chose a simple sand color that will coordinate well with my living room colors and wont darken up my small entryway.

Ready to prime and paint!
So far this is a very boring story. I know it. You know it. But here's where it gets more interesting (I hope anyway!). I bought some contact paper for like $5 at Target that has a really graphic and bold black and white damask pattern on it and it's going on the back wall of the piece for a pop of fun! 
I had to cover this up. I mean seriously, look at it. Blech.
While I waited for the second and final coat of paint to dry, I took the cardboard back that I had removed earlier and carefully put the contact paper on the front side (which was taped together with some really old masking tape). From there I basically wrapped it like a present. A beautiful present to me :)
I made a cut in the contact paper to avoid bulging corners

Once the contact paper was folded down on both the long and shorts sides I was left with a tab that stuck out.

I just cut that sucker off :)
 Once everything was dry I put it all back together and wow! It was dingy, scratched and marked up when I started but now its sleek, clean and very modern looking.
It really looks incredible

Here it is in my little entryway. You cant see the damask backing very well with the baskets in there but up close it's still a very nice touch.
Its hard to see the color difference but the damask backing is whats so exciting about this makeover!
Lesson Learned 1). Laminate can be painted so don't let it be a deal breaker if you find something free or cheap that fills a need. Priming worked great but I wish I had used a better quality brush or rolled it on the flat surfaces. The oil based primer I've been using is a major B to clean up so I used an older, low quality brush hoping that sanding and using a good quality brush and roller for the 2 coats of paint would make up for it. While it's not super noticeable you can see the brush strokes in some places.

Lesson Learned 2). Do not be afraid to gussy up the boring cardboard or particle board backings on things. Many pins I have on my boards suggest using wallpaper scraps or fabric for this use but contact paper was inexpensive and super easy to use. I don't know what the durability of it will be long term but I'm sure it will be on par with painted laminate :)

Lesson Learned 3). While a high quality brush does seem to leave less visible brush strokes than the el cheapo brushes, your last layer is only as good as your first. Especially when you are too impatient, er... you don't have a lot of time to spend on sanding between coats.

Anyway, the only reason I blogged this makeover is because something as simple and easy (and CHEAP!) as contact paper really elevated this piece from something to hide in the back room to something to be proud of! Now stop reading and go get some contact paper!

Monday, June 10, 2013

A dresser for me

Through a somewhat unusual turn of events I found, passed over and then had my attention re-diverted to this dresser. Before I knew it, this solid wood dresser was being delivered to me in a hatch back Volkswagen for a steal of $30! My husband came home from work and I had to explain that oh yeah, some people were coming in about half an hour to bring us a dresser you didn't know we were buying. I seem to acquire things this way; dressers, cats, etc. Good thing he loves me :)

Its got nice looking bones but clearly the paint has got to go!

It also has some slight damage to the top and sides but it looked like an easy fix to me
All my previous projects have just required some sanding but this bad boy was going to need to be stripped.
Not that kind of stripping!
I bought a citrus based stripping product I had seen used in a blog once and tested it out on one of the drawers. It worked great! That weekend I had my husband help me drag the dresser outside and set about getting that horrible paint off.

A rainbow of horrible colors!
 I don't have many pictures of this part but trust me when I say this was no fun. I ended up needing 2 cans of the stripper and still needed more in areas where I hadn't put it on thick enough. Once the stripper has set for a few hours you can just scrape off the gooey gunk with a plastic scraper. I scraped and scraped for HOURS. Then, I rubbed and rubbed with mineral spirits to clean it up. They're not kidding when they say you need to apply the stripper GENEROUSLY. You really have to goop it on there. I had lots of areas where my application was a little thin and the stripper didn't make it through all the layers of paint. I did the best that I could until both the dresser and I were starting to look a little distressed. I actually had to take a break for a couple of days afterwards because my right arm hurt so bad.

This is what it looked like after an exhausting afternoon of fighting the many, ugly layers of paint that had been put on this poor thing.

One night about a week later after the kids went to bed I reapplied some more stripper (this time I bought a bottle of it instead of a spray can and applied with a cheap foam brush) and got off the rest of the paint. It really does work good when you follow the instructions *sheepish grin*.

Next I hand sanded it lightly with a heavier grit paper (because that's what I had and I was NOT going back to that damned store), used some wood filler to fill in the dents and dings and started priming it. No sooner had I gotten one coat of primer on it than the clouds started to roll in. Luckily I was able to get the second coat on it and back inside before the rain started to fall.
 Not a very exciting picture but its amazing how different it looks without that sickly yellow paint on it.

Woah. Where did you come from?
Eventually, days later, I made it back outside with the dresser to paint it. I was so excited about the color I picked out and also just to finish this project so I could get it out of my dining room that I wrestled it outside by myself. I even put it in the shade to avoid bubbling of the paint as it dried. I started painting while the kids played and noticed more clouds coming my way. Really?! The forecast said the rain wasnt supposed to come until later in the evening so I kept at it hoping my husband would get home in time to help me bring it back in. After all, furniture wrestling and hour-dry paint don't really go together. To my horror, it started to sprinkle on my newly painted dresser *gasp*! Luckily my neighbor helped me bring it in but I could see that the water was messing up my finish.

Apparently I didn't take any pictures of this part but during nap this last week I lightly sanded the somewhat splotchy surface and put a third coat of paint on it. INSIDE. I used small foam rollers designed for painting cabinets and they were well suited to painting the larger, flat surfaces of the dresser. Once dried it looked really good but I opted to top coat just the very top of the dresser with clear coat for extra durability.

I love how it came out!
I added some new hardware as well.

Please excuse my bare walls. Our bedroom has been last in line for decorative attention. Its going to get painted soon, I promise!!

Lessons Learned:

1). When the directions on a product says "apply generously", they mean it!! The stripper worked wonderfully in the spots where the product was really thick and I could have saved myself a lot of work and sore muscles if I had made sure the whole thing was covered that thick.

2). Stripping paint off is hard work but totally worth it. I was able to get down to the bare wood which made priming and painting a breeze. Also, I got a nice smooth finished product for all my hard work!

3). NEVER trust the weather in New England :)

Although this project took forever, I'm really very happy with the end product. Now that the dresser is in my bedroom where it will be used I can shuffle my newest finds around downstairs. Like I said, its a good thing my husband loves me so much :)