Back to the Basics – Prepping Your Pieces

How much prep you need to do on your piece to get it ready to paint can vary greatly. There are some basics steps you should take no matter what paint or finish you are using and then there are the exceptions to the rules.

Let’s talk about the basics first. These are the things you should do no matter what you plan on doing with your piece and no matter what paint or stain you will be using. If you missed the post on the differences between furniture and home decor paints, you can find it here… 

washing pine boards after they were roughed up to make them look old


First and foremost, give your piece a good cleaning. When you work with vintage furniture you honestly never know where it has been, what may have been living inside of it, or what products were used to clean it. Giving it a thorough and solid cleaning is a must for every piece.

Start by taking a vacuum cleaner to the piece to remove any debris or loose bits.

Then clean the entire piece, inside and out, with an eco-friendly tsp, soap and water, or a degreaser if it needs deeper cleaning. Make sure to wipe your piece down with clean water to finish.


giving a light sanding to dining room chairs before painting them


How much sanding you do to your piece will depend on the paint you are using and the look you are trying to achieve. At a minimum, no matter what the piece is made out of, you should give it a light sand with a medium grit sandpaper.

If your piece is constructed out of an alternative material such as melamine, plastic, or something else synthetic, you will want to give it a little deeper sanding. You want to make sure that the top layer gets a little chewed up so that the paint has something to adhere to on the surface.


filling in missing veneer with wood filler


The final thing you will want to do before you start painting is to repair anything wobbly or broken. This may involve gluing and tightening up any loose legs, handles, or trim and/or replacing anything that has gone missing.

You will also want to give any drawers a quick once over as well. Before you start painting is the time to make sure they slide smoothly, fit in properly, and generally work to your liking.


reattaching trim on a vintage buffet

Prepping a piece doesn’t have to take a lot of time but it will be well worth your time in the end. Doing these few things at the beginning will ensure that all of the hard work you put into painting and creating your finished piece will not go to waste!


If you missed any of the posts in the Back to the Basics series, you can find them here…


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how to prep furniture for painting

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