Subtitle: How I painted my faux bamboo dresser
Something big has happened at our house. (Hint: see subtitle) It might not be significant in other homes, particularly those that house people with follow-through to match their grand ideas. But here, in the home of this chronic 90 percenter? Of this easily distracted DIYer? Around here, it feels like a fairly big deal that I managed to turn this…
Earth shattering? No. I mean, how many gazillion dresser makeovers have you seen? Oh, you say you’ve already seen a hundred today. I’m not surprised. But you know what separates all those dressers from this one? Me. Which means this dresser had little to no chance of pulling through. But here we are, just four short months later. (Seriously, I’m pretty proud of that turn around time.)
I feel like I should tell you about the process, but the blogosphere needs another furniture painting tutorial about as much as I need to spend the rest of the day on Pinterest finding rice crispy treat recipes (read: not at all…especially since I did that yesterday). Besides, I have no business advising on this topic. You should consult much more skilled and experienced furniture refinishers like Kate. I don’t recall her tips for a professional paint job including baby wipes, which feature somewhat prominently in my story. That should tell you that I didn’t really follow a tutorial exactly.
Oh, but let’s pretend I DID follow a tutorial EXACTLY. Here’s what that tutorial would have said (including when to panic)…
* Search for dresser for a year, then rush to buy it the day before going town. (Details here.)
* Shove dresser in living room, displacing other furniture and crowding an already small space.
* Live with that cramped set up for a month or so before moving dresser onto the front porch.
* Protect dresser by wrapping it in a big blue tarp, then stand back to admire what this does for your curb appeal.
* Agonize over dark blue paint chips before ultimately selecting Behr’s Nocturnal Sea, mostly so you can stop all the agonizing.
(2) PRE-PREP (that’s a thing, right?)
* Have a pep talk with yourself about how you know you can do this even though you’re pretty sure you’re in over your head but you can’t back out now because you made your husband haul this dresser home and shove it in the living room.
* Panic attack: Realize after reading furniture painting info online that you do not have the requisite skills (mostly patience) to do this job well. Repeat pep talk.
* Take a deep breath. Gather supplies: sanding blocks, one quart blue paint, one can gold spray paint, one can spray polycrylic in satin finish, one small can of brush-on polycrylic in satin finish, a good angled brush, dense foam mini rollers, and a few other things.
* Give the whole dresser a good wipe down with baby wipes.
* Pull out drawers and remove hardware.
* Lightly sand the flat parts of the dresser to scuff it up some and smooth out imperfections. Pay special attention to the top of the dresser which is laminate. Um, yes, laminate.
* Go over the whole dresser again with baby wipes to remove the sanding dust.
* Break open the Zinsser water-based bonding primer.
* Panic attack: Realize you should have gone with spray primer for all the faux bamboo detail because there is little to no chance of avoiding drips in all those curved ridges.
* Brush primer onto faux bamboo details, reminding self to keep the coat thin. Thin, thin, thin.
* Fail to keep coat thin. Curse self, but carry on when no drips are immediately apparent.
* Consider breaking out mini roller to prime top and sides of dresser, but decide against it since the brush is already in your hand and since rumor has it that brushing will deliver the thicker coverage that is desirable for a heavy use surface such as this. (Do it more for the latter reason and less for the lazy.)
* Brush primer on top and sides of dresser.
* Panic attack: Immediately regret not rolling the top in light of the extreme brush strokes left in the primer.
* Let primer dry overnight. Sand top to
remove reduce brush marks.
* Massage sore sanding arm.
* Clean surface with baby wipes.
* Put on your genius cap and use same brush to add another coat of primer right on top of the surface you just painstakingly sanded to reduce brush strokes.
* Panic attack: [repeat previous] Immediately regret not rolling the top in light of the extreme brush strokes left in the primer.
* Allow primer to cure for a full week while you wait for the next child-free opportunity to work on this project.
* In the meantime, consider just sticking with primer since the white is already so much nicer than the “before.”
* Give hardware several coats of gold spraypaint.
* On the dresser, repeat the tedious sanding and wiping steps done between coats of primer.
* Add Floetrol paint conditioner to your latex paint in hopes of reducing brush marks in the final finish.
* Use a new paintbrush in hopes of reducing brush marks (and since bits of primer dried in the other brush).
* Carefully brush blue paint onto all but the top and sides of the dresser. Finally break out a foam mini roller for top and sides.
* Panic attack: Experience serious doubts about color choice after first thin coat, especially when your mother says, “oh, it’s bright” in her best supportive voice that almost masks her doubts about the direction of this project.
* Go back to brushing for the next three coats. Do lots of sanding and baby wiping between coats.
* Panic attack: After allowing a coat of paint to cure for a full week, give it a quick baby wipe and notice that the wipe in your hand is completely blue. Remain puzzled about why you’re able to apparently wipe paint off quite easily (but develop a theory that floetrol may be involved). Decide it’s time to seal this sucker.
* Break out the polycrylic. Spray all but the top of the dresser.
* Apply brush-on polycrylic to the top.
* Panic attack: Realize brush-on polycrylic on such a large surface is way out of your league. Once again, leave extreme brush marks in the surface.
[Psst, yes that brick in the background did turn gray. More on that here. It involved another round of dragging the dresser inside then outside.]
* Per instruction on polycrylic can, lightly sand surface before second coat of sealer. (But first make a special trip to the hardware store just to buy 220 grit sandpaper.)
* Panic attack: Try not to pass out with panic when you see the sandpaper scratching the heck out of your dresser.
* Breath sigh of relief when the scratch marks disappear after one coat of spray polycrylic. Spray on five more coats.
* Eventually tire of sealing the dresser and put hardware back on.
* Call this turkey done. Celebrate. Drag it back into the living room.
(Sorry about the crazy color difference between the pictures above and below. In real life, it’s somewhere in between.)
Now you may be saying to yourself: “That dresser looks great! What’s with the partial triumph?” First of all, thank you, I am pretty pleased overall. And my photography skills aren’t good enough to capture the imperfections for you, so we’ll just pretend they aren’t there.
As for partial triumph, well, the dresser is still in our living room. When it makes it to the master bedroom, this triumph will be complete. “Ok, why don’t you just put the dresser in the bedroom?” Fair question. The staircase is a little too tight to carry it up easily, so we’re planning to hoist it in through our bedroom window. Gulp. I’ll save that story for another day. Like maybe the day we actually do it. I’m still unsure about the whole thing, but Hubby has plans and says I should trust him. I do. Mostly.
So that’s how I painted my dresser….but not necessarily how you should paint yours.