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Refinishing projects–or my almost epic fail…

on July 29, 2013

This week I decided to tackle a few other projects lying around the house.  School starts up again soon, and my project days are becoming quite limited.  So, the last few weeks have been a big push to get some of the smaller stuff out of the way.

My mom recently downsized her belongings again, and we became the proud owners of, among other things, my old child sized wheelbarrow and a wooden stool my dad’s dad made and we used throughout my childhood.  Both were in serious need of some TLC  The wagon was rusted in many places and the wood on the stool was nicked and scratched quite a bit.  Both had been well loved, and it was evident in the wear and tear.

Wheelbarrow before...  Red and rusty...

Wheelbarrow before… Red and rusty…

Stool before... A little worse for the wear.

Stool before…
A little worse for the wear.

To give these items new life in our home, I decided to give them both a paint job.  We decided on pink for my daughter’s new wheelbarrow–because everything in her life is pink–and a Burgundy red for the stool.  We picked up a few cans of spray paint in our choice colors and a can of white paint and primer in one.  I have painted furniture before, but it has been a LONG time and I was in my teens, so they weren’t the most professional jobs.  But, I was convinced I could easily handle both projects and get them done one morning during the week.  I was somewhat mistaken…

Here is what I learned on my journey to refinishment:

1)  An electric sander is a good investment–and one we did not make this time around.  Instead, I spent the morning sanding the stool and metal wheelbarrow with sandpaper.  I started out with wire brushes on the wheelbarrow, but the sand paper made a smoother surface.  The stool had varnish on it and needed a bit of sanding to get it ready for the primer.

2)  Buy more paint than you think you will need.  You can always take an extra can back, but it’s a giant pain in the rear to have to make a run in the middle of the second coat.  The wheelbarrow covered two coats OK in one can, but the stool definitely needed more to do multiple coats.  So, on my quick run back to the store, I picked up one of each just in case.  I’m glad I gave the wheelbarrow a third coat for safety since it is an outside toy.

3)  Do not buy spray paint from a box store.  I think some of the paint we picked up had been sitting there for a while.  My second…and third..cans of red paint did not work.  They sprayed for about 20 seconds and then stopped.  I was very, very, very frustrated at this point and gave up on the stool for the day.

4)  Wear gloves.  Spray paint is really hard to get off your skin.  Especially if there are layers of it because the old bottle of spray paint you bought caused there to be quite a bit of blow and shake-back.  I looked like a zombie victim when I was done–white, pink, and red splotches all over my hands and even a bit on my arms.

5)  Some spray paint can tops are liars when it comes to color.  Our “Burgundy” red looked more like blood red.  It was much brighter than what the can led me to believe (even when completely dry)–and totally not the look I wanted.  If you are able to test the color somehow, I would do that first.  You could also see if the can works that way :).

5)  Use a latex paint on wood surfaces.  Even though the spray paint said it could be used on wood, I had drip marks and coverage issues on the wood stool that I did not have on the metal wheel barrow.  I ended up going to Home Depot and asking the paint dept folks what to do to fix my paint problem.  I decided to abandon the red and go with a flat black, because it matches the black appliances in our kitchen.  The experts advised I use a sample size of Behr paint and primer in one.  I got two bottles on their advice, but only needed one.  Rolling on the latex paint worked SO MUCH BETTER!  (FYI, you cannot return sample size paints–but I have extra for another project or for touch ups along the way).

Despite the problems I encountered, I am really happy with the results of this refinishing project.  Plus, I learned quite a bit and will be better armed for future projects.  It’s true that sometimes the things we think will be easy will be frustratingly difficult, and the things we think will be hard end up being easy.  It was definitely a learning experience–and I’m glad I decided to give it a go.

Finished!  My daughter loves all of the pink!  I also wrapped black electrical tape around the handles to give them  an update.

Finished! My daughter loves all of the pink! I also wrapped black electrical tape around the handles to give them an update.

Finished stool!  I am really happy with the matte black finish.  Sort of makes up for the problems I had with the red paint.

Finished stool! I am really happy with the matte black finish. Sort of makes up for the problems I had with the red paint.

Anyone out there had a project go sideways?  How did you solve your dilemma?

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