Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Spray Painting 101

I am always thrilled at what a fresh coat of paint will do to a dingy, thrift-store cast-off. And spray paint makes things amazingly easy.

I found a decent wooden bookcase at Goodwill for a crazy $10. It is solid-wood construction (not particle board) and has a little curvey detailing at the top that made me love it.

In my household, my husband and I have very different styles. He is very measured, precise, reads instructions and follows them to the letter. I tend to take directions as general guidelines and am somewhat creative in my interpretation.

Both are strengths. For instance, if dinner has to be on the table in a short amount of time, we both know that I can do it a lot quicker than he. On the other hand, if something really needs to be done right, we also know that he has the patience to do it.

I say this because when it comes to painting, we do things quite differently and as this blog post is titled "Spray Painting 101" I thought I should mention both methods.

If I were to paint a thrift store find, this is what I'd do:
  • Remove all labels and clean and dry the item
  • Take some sandpaper and rub quickly over the entire item, to roughen up the surface so that the paint has something to adhere to
  • Shake up the desired spray paint the minimum amount of time that it says on the directions
  • Paint, going over the entire surface fairly randomly at first, allowing a few minutes in between coats to allow the previous layer to dry a bit. Continue to come back, filling in bare spots
  • Allow to dry overnight and then begin to use my new, wonderfully refreshed object
This is my husband's method:
  • Remove all labels and clean and dry the item
  • Sandpaper the entire item thoroughly, to roughen up the surface so that the paint has something to adhere to
  • Prime the object, if deemed necessary (it wasn't for the bookcase)
  • Shake up the spray paint at least the maximum amount of time directed on the label
  • Paint the item in a very methodical manner, covering each surface with a series of parallel strokes
  • Allow each coat to dry thoroughly, sanding lightly between coats
  • Repeat until a very smooth surface is achieved
  • Allow the item to dry for at least a few days, if not a week, before using it
Now, both of these methods have their strengths, of course. I suspect most people are somewhere in between us. I have my method because I am somewhat impatient and it works beautifully about 98% of the time and I have a finished item in about a few hours. These shelves fell into that small minority of projects that needed a little more than my usual slapdash style.

Two things happened:

If you look at the photos above (click on the photo to enlarge it), you can see a close up of where the paint started to crackle on me. Very annoying! This happened when I was putting the final, beautiful coat of soft yellow on the top, so it was puzzling as to why it was happening then and not the entire time I was coating the thing. In any case, talking with husband and father-in-law, the problem seems to be a chemical reaction between the spray paint and the varnish on the bookcase that somehow didn't happen til after the initial coats had completely dried.

I kept on sanding JUST the part that crackled and repainting it in hopes that this would work again (trying to coat it with primer at one point), but the problem simply continued.

My husband, who won MAJOR points for stepping in, finally took matters into his own hands and thoroughly sanded the top down to the wood and repainted it for me while I was at work.


The second problem I had was because I wanted to paint the back of the bookcase a soft green, so I masked off the sides of the bookcase. When I removed the masking tape, though, large swathes of the yellow paint came off with the tape.

This probably happened because I didn't spend enough time on the sanding step, to roughen up the original surface enough so that paint could properly adhere to it.

So, live and learn! My bookcase is all done now and I've moved it into my corner. There are parts of the paint job that aren't perfect, but they aren't very noticeable...

The four weeks for my Crafty Space Makeover Challenge ends next week. I promise photos of the entire space!

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