Give Old Pieces New Life With a DIY Paint Makeover

There are several paints on the market designed to make your job as simple as possible. Which one is right for your next project?

DIY Network, original photo on Houzz

There are several paints on the market designed to make your job as simple as possible. Which one is right for your next Hudson Valley home project?

By Janell Beals, Houzz

One of the least expensive and creative ways to help furnish a room is by upcycling pieces in need of a little TLC. Scout thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales and Craigslist for tables, chairs, dressers and bed frames to resuscitate with paint. There are several paints on the market designed just for this purpose, and paint specifically formulated to make the job as simple as possible — sometimes with little to no sanding required.

Becky Dietrich Interior Designer, original photo on Houzz

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Before we move on to the inspiration, here’s a quick rundown of the various paints available for your next project.

Latex paint: If you’re looking for a smooth, durable finish similar to what might be found on a factory-finished piece, latex paint is a good option. Consider Sherwin-Williams Pro Classic, a paint for furniture and cabinets with characteristics similar to oil paint but without the mess and difficult application. A coat of primer is suggested prior to painting for maximum adhesion. Latex paint comes in a variety of sheens, each providing a distinct look — flat, eggshell, satin, semigloss or high-gloss — so choose accordingly.

Chalk paint: Annie Sloan chalk paint is a popular line that requires no primer and little to no sanding before painting, depending on the condition of the surface. The finish you’ll achieve with this paint is consistent, with less flaking and chipping than milk paint. Wax can be applied as an alternative to sealer, in clear or antique, depending on the look desired.

The Virginia House, original photo on Houzz

Milk paint: This paint comes as a powder to be mixed with water, providing a whitewashed or distressed look, and some people are mixing it themselves with ingredients found at the hardware store. Search online for “milk paint recipe” to try mixing up a batch, or look for the beautiful range of colors available through several vendors. Milk paint has been described as stain-like in consistency, though it can be thicker depending on how much water is added. It leaves a chippy or flaking surface, particularly when applied on previously finished pieces. Waxes and water-based sealers can be applied after painting.

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Mud paint: This option is relatively new among furniture paints and is best for antiquing and distressing, offering a flat, smooth finish with great coverage and adhesion that typically doesn’t require a primer. Premixed, it tends to be creamier than milk paint, providing opaque coverage. To enhance the final look, use a furniture wax. A final clear-coat sealer isn’t necessary, but if additional protection is desired, choose a water-based polycrylic one.

Lacquer or oil-based paint: The old-school option is oil paint, which provides an amazingly professional finish when the surface is properly prepped and sprayed. But this is not a DIY-friendly job as it involves long drying times and a strong odor that lingers for days. This option is best when painting expensive kitchen cabinetry or built-ins where a high-end look is desired.

Garrison Hullinger Interior Design Inc, original photo on Houzz

The design team at Garrison Hullinger came across just the right-sized dresser at a discount furniture store to use in a small powder room project. After painting it with a distressed finish and covering it with a sealer to protect the surface from splashes, the designers retrofitted it to accommodate a sink and faucet, then slipped it perfectly into place.

Rethink Design Studio, original photo on Houzz

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In this bathroom, a vintage vanity featuring original crystal knobs and a cane-back chair are covered in bright canary yellow, standouts in a white room. Latex or chalk paint would be good options to consider for this look.

Tip: Be careful of older furniture that has previously been painted, since the paint may contain lead. To determine if lead is present, rub a swab from a 3M LeadCheck Instant Lead Test over the surface. The swabs are available at home improvement stores.

DIY Network, original photo on Houzz

Not content to use just one paint color, DIY expert Shannon Kaye designed and painted a stylized landscape onto the front of this vintage dresser.

Hide & Sleep Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

A single paint color is often the perfect DIY solution, but here a range of pale blues on the drawer fronts of a dresser create a whimsical ombre effect.

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