We've talked about WHY you should prime, we've talked about WHEN you should prime, and we've talked about WHICH primer you should choose....but HOW should you apply it??
This comes down to your comfort and personal preferences....and also a little dependent on the piece of furniture you are tackling. To apply primer, you've got three main options and each have pros. Let's break 'em down....
-Brush: With a shellac or oil based primer, you typically want to grab a cheapo brush because getting the product out of the bristles is such a pain in the butt that you'll likely just toss the brush in the trash. Not the case here! Because Wise Owl Primer is a water based product, it washes out of brushes beautifully. (Just be sure to wash it as soon as you are done working...it dries fast and insanely tough so its not gonna budge if you wait too long!). I prefer a synthetic brush for primer, specifically my good old Cling Ons. The brush you choose will be determined by your project. If you are priming something with lots of curves, spindles, or details, pick a round brush. If your project is mostly flat areas like a large dresser, go with a flat brush. And if you've got a combo, or you only want to get one brush for all projects...get an oval, its the best of both worlds. When brushing on primer, be sure your brush is DRY first! With our chalk style paint, we recommend using a damp brush...but that is not the case here. Watering down your primer with a damp brush can effect its durability, adhesion, and stain blocking abilities...so stick with a dry brush for best results.
-Roller: For primer, I personally prefer a 4" high density foam roller. It provides nice light coats, even distribution, and little bubbling. If you do experience some bubbles or inconsistencies, lightly drag a brush over your freshly rolled primer and it'll even things out and pop any possible bubbles. I aim to apply long even strips of primer running the length of my piece. Working in 4" sections, roll from one end of the area to the other, and then back over again once or twice. Anything more than that isn't usually necessary and can actually start pulling your previous coat back up. The primer dries really fast, so its best to apply it and then step back and let it do its job!
-Sprayer: Yup, you can spray this primer too! For most sprayers, it doesn't even need to be diluted. If for some reason, you are finding that its too thick for your sprayer, it can be diluted, but no more than 10%. Adding too much water to it can drastically reduce its durability, adhesion, and blocking powers....so leave it as is for best results! Be sure to allow 4-6 hours between coats. This can be hard if you are spraying because it will likely dry a bit faster. But if you are using the primer for stain block purposes, its best to follow the recoat times to let it do its job to the fullest!
Can you use a foam brush? Sure, but get the higher quality ones because the super cheap foam brushes tend to fall apart and that's a bummer in the middle of a big job. Even with a quality foam brush, I still prefer my Cling Ons....I feel that they work better with the self leveling properties of the primer.
Can you use your old throw away brushes? Absolutely...but you'll probably want to give your primer a quick sanding to get rid of all the brush marks. And who really wants more steps? Just use a good brush and you'll save yourself a ton of time!
Can you just pour the primer on the furniture and hope for the best? No, no you can't. 😆
Whichever approach you choose, be sure to STIRRRRRR the primer really well! Make sure its fully incorporated to get the best results. Apply two coats for full coverage, and allow them to dry 4-6 hours in between. If you are worried about bleed thru, its also super important to wait 24 hours AFTER you are finished painting before you top coat! You don't want your varnish reactivating everything and having those tannins jump up and ruin your day.
Oh and one more quick tip....if you are experiencing tannin bleed thru, don't be alarmed if your primer turns yellow. Give it 6 hours to dry and then apply a second coat. Often times, the second coat will turn yellow as well, but then when it fully dries it will be amazing at blocking in further stains. So just because the primer looks like tannins have made their way through to the surface, doesn't mean its not doing its job. If you are in doubt, paint a small test area and see how it holds up. I've seen a few projects require 3 coats of primer, but its really rare!
I think that just about wraps up our little tour of primer. You've learned the how, why, when, and what....now its time to get your hands dirty! (Just be sure to wash them right away...primer likes to stick around!...extra side note, if you do let the primer dry on your skin, massage it with a little olive oil and it'll come right off) Is there anything we missed? Any questions about primer that weren't covered? Let me know!!
(This post contains a few Amazon affiliate links (for the sprayer and the rollers). When you make purchases through these links, you don't pay any extra, but I get a small kickback for the referral and that helps keep this lil website afloat! Thank you so much for supporting a small business!)
If you've been around here for any length of time, you've likely heard me preach about prep work. For me, its an absolute non-negotiable. I've talked to y'all at length about stripping old paint, sanding, cleaning (you KNOW I don't believe in painting over cobwebs...yuuuuuuuck).....but what about priming? Do you know when and why you should prime? A few days ago I broke down the different color options in Wise Owl primer...but how do you know you even need it and what does it do?
Primer is used for two main reasons: Stain blocking & adhesion. There are plenty of products on the market that can help with one or the other, but finding one product that does both AND is low VOCs and water based? Sign me up! But first, let's break things down and decide if you NEED primer...
*Wise Owl Primer*
-Stain Blocking: There are actually quite a few stains that can creep up through your paint and cause you all sorts of trouble, but the most frustrating can be tannins. Tannins are a substance derived from the acids inside plants. They serve all sorts of benefits in nature (particularly in fruit trees...if you bite into unripened fruit and get that pucker face, dry tongue, and acidic flavor, that's the tannins doing their job to deter you from eating the fruit before its ripe), they have been used for generations to tan animal hides, provide astringents needed in medicine, and even play a large roll in that glass of red wine you might be sipping (they leach out from the wooden barrels the wine is stored in and play a huge part in the flavoring and chemical breakdown of your fav cabernet). They also are used in many dyes and tints. Have you ever seen a body of water surrounded by mangrove trees? Chances are, that water has a brown tint, similar to tea....that's because tree roots are essentially steeping in the water, leaching tannins out of the bark, changing the color of the water. This is essential for plant life...but can be an absolute headache when painting furniture. When painting, particularly with water based products, tannins can bleed through your finishes and cause staining that is far from attractive. Sometimes, the tannins show up right away, but other times, they don’t appear until you add your last coat of varnish, or even worse, a few months later. This is particularly common in cherry, mahogany, and deeply tinted woods...those tannins show up in the form of ugly yellow streaks in your painting surface. Using a high quality, stain blocking primer can save HOURS of work by locking in all those tannins, stains, oils, and discolorations before you apply that first coat of paint. For optimal stain blocking abilities, apply TWO coats, and allow 4-6 hours to dry in between. After you’ve painted, be sure to wait 24 hours before adding a top coat!! When using a water based varnish, you can actually reactivate your water based paint, and reopen the pore space, allowing room for those tannins to leak back through. Waiting a solid day will give your paint enough time to begin the curing process and will help lock those tannins in beneath the primer.
-Adhesion: If you are painting an old, dry, rough antique...you’ll likely have zero issues with your paint sticking to the surface. (Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint is super porous so its going to stick to most surfaces with ease! If you are using the One Hour Enamel...its best to prime first! It’s incredibly tough, but not quite as adhesive as the chalk line, so primer helps a ton!) But what if your piece has a lacquered finish? What if it’s laminate, glass, ceramic, or even metal? Some surfaces are just too slick for paint to grip on to. You can give it a go with some sand paper to rough up the surface and give your piece a little tooth, but lots of times that isn’t an option. If your piece has lots of intricate details...the idea of somehow sanding them can be super daunting. For lots of projects, you can skip the heavy sanding and instead give it one quick scuff up and then prime instead. The primer will stick to just about all surfaces. (Be sure the surface is clean though!! Kitchen cabinets that have 10 years of bacon grease coated on them? Ain’t nothin gonna stick to that!) Do 2 coats of primer, with 4 hours of dry time in between, and you’re ready to paint! If a surface is super slick, I let the primer dry overnight to get the best possible adhesion before I jump into painting.
If in doubt….prime!! The primer is water based, low VOCs, washes out of brushes easily (wash as soon as you are done priming though! It dries incredibly tough!), and goes on just as easily as paint. It’s far better to prime when you don’t HAVE to than to skip priming and regret it later. If you are contemplating priming for adhesion issues, but you aren’t 100% sure you need to….paint a little 2”x2” section, let it dry for an hour, and then give it a little scratch with your finger nail. Does the paint peel off or scratch right up? You need to prime! (If it just leaves a white chalky scratch mark, you are totally fine! Go ahead and paint!)
Keep in mind...these are just the two most common reasons you’ll need primer. The list is longer though, and each project is different! Have a dresser that smells like years of cigarette smoking? Prime that baby and lock that stink in. Painting a dark oak table bright white?? Prime and save yourself coats and coats of paint! And as always, if you have any questions or you have a project that is stumping you….reach out! I’m always happy to do consultations to discuss your project and figure out the best plan of attack. These consults are always free of charge and customized to your particular project. Get one on one help choosing your prep steps, the perfect color combination, and the appropriate top coat, so you’re piece ends up exactly as you hoped!
Too long, didn't read? (Yeah, I see you! 😆) :
*Painting mahogany or cherry wood and using a light color: PRIME
*Painting slick surfaces: PRIME
*Painting something stinky: PRIME
*Not sure that your paint will adhere and you are on the fence about using primer: TEST IT (paint a 2x2" square and scratch it an hour later...if it scratches, you need to prep more!)
Which primer should I use?!?!?!
Wise Owl Primer comes in three options: Clear, White, and Gray. So which should you pick? The different colors will provide different benefits in different situations. So let's break them down one at a time, shall we??
Clear: If you plan to paint a piece and then distress areas back down to the wood, but you still need help with adhesion or stain blocking....then clear primer is for you! The clear primer will lock in tannins and give you a great, grippy surface to paint on...while also allowing you to distress back down to the bare wood without having your primer peak through. It will also be your go-to if you are starting from a dark shade and painting to another dark shade. You don't want to prime those dark wood cabinets with bright white primer before painting them black. Instead, prime them with clear primer and you won't have to jump shades....and that means you'll use LESS paint!
White: If you are painting white, cream, or beige...white primer is your best friend. Trust me. If you plan to take a dark piece of furniture and paint it white, using a coat or two of white primer will cut the amount of paint you'll need in half. No joke. Its also got incredible stain blocking abilities which are super important when painting light colors. If you've got mahogany, cherry, or cedar...those tannins can creep through your paint and cause all sorts of headaches. The white primer will not only lighten your base shade, resulting in less coats of paint, but will also block in all potential stains and bleeds, giving you a flawless finish.
Gray: Are you planning to paint red? Pink? Orange? Use gray primer and you will thank me. Gray is the perfect base for any red toned paints, and it will drastically cut down the amount of coats you'll need for your paint. Reds are notorious for being the most finicky colors, sometimes requiring 4, 5, even 6 coats for full coverage. (Side note, start using Wise Owl and you won't ever use more than 3 coats of reds. Fo real.) Use the gray primer underneath your hot pinks, and you'll get away with just two coats. Take a look at the photo and you'll see just how much the color of primer can impact your paint. That board has only one coat of Republic Red. Over the gray primer, its just about full coverage. One coat of red paint?!? Yup! Gray primer is also perfect if you are going from a super light wood or something that was already painted white...and you want to go dark. Throwing gray primer underneath your blues, grays, and blacks will step up your color shade so you won't have to make such a drastic jump when you start painting.
Too long, didn't read, right?? Here's the short notes 😆:
Want to distress down to the wood? CLEAR
Going from a dark surface to a dark paint? CLEAR
Painting anything white, cream, or beige? WHITE
Going from a dark surface to a light paint? WHITE
Painting with reds, pinks, or oranges? GRAY
Going from a light surface to a dark paint? GRAY
And, as always, if you aren't sure, just send me a pic and we'll work through it together 😘
I've got an adorable little nightstand that I picked up at a thrift shop a few months ago. My original intentions for it were simple....bring it to the store and salve half of it to show how awesome Wise Owl Furniture Salve is. So, I did just that. I salved the right side, left the other side raw, showed a good 'before and after', and sold a few cans of salve. And then??? Well, then this cute little side table came to collect dust in my garage.
It's kind of become a catch all for random junk in the garage, and its just way too cute to live out the rest of its life unappreciated. So??? Its time to paint it and let it move on to a new home!!
Juuuuuuust one problem.....that awesome salve I used to re-hydrate the wood? Yeah, that's gonna cause some MAJOR issues when it comes time to paint. Salve is made of a blend of oils and waxes, and paint does not adhere to oils or waxes. A general rule of thumb is that wax/salve is ALWAYS last. You can layer it on top of paints all day long, but nothing else can go on top of it. So, if you have a piece that has been salved, waxed, polished, etc., you'll need to get that coating off before you even think of picking up a paint brush. (Did you notice I added "polished" in there??? If your furniture has been fancied up with Pledge or any other furniture oils, you may have a hard time getting paint to stick to it! So read on and save yourself a huge headache down the road.)
To remove the salve/wax from your furniture before you can paint, you just need a couple things:
Get your furniture situated on a drop cloth to catch any splashes and then grab your Mineral Spirits. (I wear gloves for this!) You can pour some in a cup or dish, or you can pour it directly onto your steel wool. (I poured it directly onto my wool, hovering over the table so any drips just hit the furniture and didn't go to waste) Now get to scrubbing!!
Mineral Spirits is pretty powerful, so honestly, this process is a piece of cake. The chemicals do 90% of the work and you are basically just using the steal wool to move it around and break up the wax. My nightstand took about 2 minutes to complete. Not bad at all. Once I had it all scrubbed, I actually did it all over again just to be safe.
Now you've got the salve/wax/oils all scrubbed off...but you need to get any Mineral Spirits off before you can start painting. The best way to do this is to give it a good scrub with dish soap and water, followed by one more scrub with just clean water. (Mineral Spirits removes the wax, dish soap removes the mineral spirits, clean water removes the dish soap) Today, I got super lucky and we were in the mid 90's, zero humidity, and a decent breeze. So I worked outside, on a drop cloth for the Mineral Spirits portion of this project and then hauled the nightstand over to the rocks and busted out the garden hose. I sprayed it down, then gave it a quick scrub with soap, and finished with another spray of water. (Spraying furniture with a hose is a pretty big gamble! Only do this if your weather will allow it to fully dry and only spray furniture that is real wood!! If you spray fake wood pieces (think IKEA style), they are pressed cardboard and drenching them in water will cause the material to deteriorate fast!) The entire thing took ten minutes, max!! And it was so hot out that the entire piece was completely dry and ready for paint an hour later!
That's it!! Super easy and prevents a TON of adhesion problems down the road. Take the little bit of time to properly prep your piece and remove any waxes and oils and your paint will thank you!! Once your furniture has completely dried, I highly recommend painting a small test patch to see if the paint is sticking. I paint a 2" x 2" section, let it dry for about 20-30 minutes, and then lightly scratch it with my finger nail. If the paint sticks, I'm good! If it peels off, I know I need to do a little more work (you may still have residue left over, so give it another quick cleaning and try again. If it still peels off, either sand or prime and you'll be good to go!)
Are your cabinets basic, boring, not sparking joy in your heart, not enticing you to come cook a gourmet meal?? Time to change that, baby!! I know it can seem daunting to overhaul your kitchen, especially when you start adding up all the costs, weighing out the timeline, looking at contractors and cabinet companies...
What if you could give yourself a gorgeous new kitchen that YOU can enjoy NOW?? What if you COULD afford to do it!! You don't necessarily have to spend thousands upon thousands on new cabinets or professional painters. You can do it yourself. You can make it look flawless. And you can do it without breaking the bank!
This amazing kitchen overhaul was done entirely with Wise Owl Paint products and it made allllllll the difference. Their One Hour Enamel (you can find it here) is 90% cured in just an hour, which means no more waiting weeks before hanging your cabinet doors back up! It also just so happens to be insanely durable so unlike other cabinet paints, you don't have to treat your kitchen like a delicate flower for a month to avoid dings and scratches. Paint your cabinets, go for a nice walk around the neighborhood, and by the time you come back, they'll be ready for hardware and hanging, Yes, it really is that awesome.
Its also water based and low VOCs so you won't put your family or pets at risk while painting and to me, that is HUGE! And as an extra bonus...the top coat is built right in so no more fussing with finicky varnishes or urethanes!
So, what does it take to completely overhaul your kitchen cabinets?? Keep reading and I'll break down the entire process, step by step, and lay out all the products used (including a couple from the dollar store to save you even MORE cash!!).
(Be sure to repeat all of the following steps for your cabinet bases and trim as well!!)
First and foremost, you need to get your cabinets clean. Not just sorta clean...really, truly clean. Kitchen cabinets tend to be coated in oils, grease, grime, and residue and nothing effects paint adhesion more than a coated surface!! So before you even think about picking up a paint brush, its time to start scrubbing. I personally prefer to take down all my doors and drawer fronts first, remove all the hardware (including hinges), and mark a little note inside the hinge cutouts so you know exactly where to rehang the doors when you are finished, all before I begin cleaning. Once they are down, grab a good cleaner and a scrubby pad and get to work. I prefer a degreaser to really eat away at the built up grime. I've got two favorites that I tend to switch back and forth on. One is a little pricey but eco friendly, the other is more budget friendly but requires better ventilation.
For a hardworking cleaner that won't risk your health, my go to is "The Amazing Whip-It". You can find it here and also at select Sam's Clubs and Walmarts. Its plant based, virtually no smell, and strong enough to even eat through paint.
A slightly more budget friendly option comes from the Dollar Tree and is called "LAs Totally Awesome Cleaner". Its pretty stinky, likely not so health friendly, but it does a great job of cutting through caked on grease and grime. If you don't have a Dollar Tree nearby, you can find it in the giant jugs here.
It's not a bad idea to grab a pick or small flat head screwdriver and run the edge along any joints or crevices in your doors to really pull out every last bit of gunk. Anything left on the surface can pop back up later to cause issues....so now is the chance to get a clean slate!! Be sure to flip the doors over and scrub the backsides as well! Once everything is fresh and clean, give it one more wash with plain water. You want to wash off any trace of the cleaning chemicals, so a fresh tap water rinse is important!!
Give everything a little time to dry and then its time to sand. Now, most cabinets don't need to be sanded down to the bare wood, but if your surface was previously painted, you may want to do just that. If the paint is chipping, peeling, etc you'll want to fully remove it either by stripping or sanding. If the cabinets are simply varnished, then you'll likely just need a quick scuff sanding to give your surface a little tooth for the primer to grip on to. A medium grit sanding sponge is perfect for this, but you can totally grab a power sander if you'd like to speed the job up! Pay a little extra attention to the trim pieces and edges. These are the areas that are most likely to get banged up, so giving them a little heavier sanding will allow the primer and paint to adhere even more, giving you a bit more protection in the long run. Again, be sure you sand both sides of each door. Once your sanding is finished, grab some water and a rag and give one last wipe down to remove any sanding dust.
Now that your surfaces are cleaned and scuffed, you can grab your primer. Since you'll be using the Wise Owl One Hour Enamel, its important to use Wise Owl's Primer. These two products were engineered to work together! For the primer (found here), you've got two color options, clear and white. If you are going to be painting your cabinets a darker color, grab the clear primer. If you plan to paint a lighter color or white, grab the white primer.
A quart of primer will cover 125 sq ft, so an average kitchen will use about two quarts of primer. Using a brush or a roller, whichever you are more comfortable with, apply in thin, even coats, allowing to dry for 4 hours before applying a second coat. The primer is dry to the touch in most conditions in about an hour, so if you are looking to complete your project as quickly as possible, you can do the first coat of primer, allow to dry for an hour, then flip them over and do the backsides. Keep track of the time and once you've hit that 4 hour mark, you can flip the doors back over and apply your second coat. If you plan to work in an assembly line fashion like this, I highly recommend grabbing some painting pyramids (like these) to rest your doors on. These will allow your surface to be raised off your work space without doing any damage to your primer or paint job.
One important thing to keep in mind when applying the primer is to wipe up any drips as soon as possible. I like to apply the primer to one side of the door, and then run my finger along the underside (against the surface facing my work space) to catch any drips and smooth out any excess primer before it begins to dry. Baby wipes work especially great for this as well!! If you do find drips or imperfections after the primer has dried, grab your sanding sponge and smooth them out before painting.
Once your two coats of primer have been applied and have dried for at least 4 hours, you are ready to start painting! The One Hour Enamel (found here) comes in 16 amazing colors in quarts and gallons or you can have your own custom color mixed in gallon batches. A gallon of enamel will cover 400-450 sq ft, so the average size kitchen will typically use right around a gallon. (Remember to calculate front and back of each door, plus the cabinet bases for your square footage totals!)
To apply the enamel, I prefer two tools. I use a 4" flocked roller from Whizz (the gray, velvet style roller meant for cabinets...I get mine at Lowes) and a Cling On brush. The F40 Cling On is a great option for cabinets, but I'm also a huge fan of the S30. The smaller S30 gets into all the crevices and does a great job of smoothing out excess paint, while the F40 is perfect for those larger flat surfaces. I highly recommend you do a test door to see what application technique feels best for you. Some folks swear by the roller, some feel more comfy with a brush. For me, I prefer both so that's what I'll dive into for the purposes of this post.
I start my cabinet doors with the backsides first. This allows you to get comfortable with your technique on a side that you won't be staring at on a daily basis once they are hung up! I personally prefer to do the inner corners and crevices first with my F40, and then immediately jump in with a roller after. To do the flat panels of your doors, grab your roller and give it a dunk in your paint. I let the excess drip off a bit, and then go ahead and roll it onto your surface. You may see tiny bubbles or bumps pop up as you roll....give it about 20-30 seconds and then do a VERY light pass one more time with the roller to pop anything that's risen up. The enamel dries insanely fast (90% CURED in one hour!!) so the MOST important thing to remember is to not overwork your paint, lay it on there and let it be! You'll want to apply the enamel slightly heavier than you might if you were using a chalk style paint, to allow for the full self leveling magic to happen, but be super careful to avoid drips. Once that enamel dries, it is ridiculously hard to remove so you'll want to wipe up drips and excess spots as soon as possible. Again, a quick swipe of the finger on the underside of your door will usually wipe up any possible issues.
Allow your paint to dry for one hour (slightly longer depending on your humidity levels or the color chosen...darker colors may require just a tiny bit longer dry time) and then apply a second coat in the same fashion. I personally allow my second coat to dry for a few hours before flipping them over to do the other side. (Let's be honest....by this point, you may be exhausted and just let them dry overnight to give yourself a break!) Flip your doors and repeat the same process on the fronts of the doors. For most colors, two coats is plenty, but assess your coverage and if needed, add a third coat to take care of any inconsistencies.
Allow to dry for another few hours while you repeat the process on your cabinet bases and trim and then....you....are....done!!! Seriously! That's it! The enamel has a rock hard top coat built right in so you don't need to varnish, wax, or poly at all. Your doors are now ready for hardware and all set to be hung back up.
To recap....the average kitchen is going to require 2 quarts of primer and one gallon of enamel coming to a grand total of about $210. Throw in the Cling On brushes I love so much and your brand new kitchen is costing you around $250. Compare that to the $20,000 you might spend on new cabinets, or even the $5,000-10,000 to have your existing cabinets custom painted and I'd say you are doing pretty darn good!!
If you have any questions about the products described here (some of which include Amazon affiliate links that help keep this little blog of mine afloat!) please reach out!! I'm happy to help calculate square footage, assist in choosing colors, or guiding you along the process with video tutorials!
I've done a lot of stencils in my day, and just about every single one of them has caused some sort of hiccup. The paint bleeds under the tape, the tape rips off the previous layer of paint, the coverage isn't great....Its just never turned out perfect. Until now. And oh my gosh is it perfect. I switched up my technique, my products, and my timeline and it made ALLLLL the difference! If you are looking to create a gorgeous pattern to accent your mid century furniture, this is for you!!
The absolute must have products:
1) Painter's tape - Specifically, Frog Tape, and even more specifically it MUST be the yellow one! It is meant for delicate surfaces and will ensure crisp lines without pulling up your previous coats of paint. For me, this is non negotiable!
2) Rollers - I've done plenty of stencils with brushes, sponges, dabbers, you name it....but this technique was SO much easier and worked flawlessly. To get a super smooth finish, I used the Whizzflock 4" rollers. (You'll need separate rollers for each color you plan to use) Foam rollers are awesome, but for this technique, nothing beats the flocked roller.
3) Paint - To get the pattern on smoothly, quickly, and be able to remove the tape without damaging the design, I used Wise Owl's One Hour Enamel. It dries rock hard in no time, self levels flawlessly, and has incredible coverage. Bonus: the top coat is built in, so when you pull that tape off...you are done!!
Now that you've got all your supplies, its time to paint!! Follow these steps and you'll have a super crisp design in no time flat!
If you give this a go, I'd love to see your results! And as always, if you have any questions or need help in any way, please reach out!! You can comment here or shoot me a note on the Contact page and I'll get back to you ASAP!
(Some of the links in this post are affiliate links to the products I use! These links don't cost you anything, but they do help support this small business of mine!)
When I switched my son's baby decor out for his big boy furniture, one thing that had to go was his old white dresser. It was still adorable, but didn't fit his new room's theme. There were a few blemishes on it, so I decided to refinish it before it could go on to its next home...but I wasn't expecting to get so emotional! Something about stripping the paint off the first piece of furniture I ever finished, transforming a piece that used to hold my little man's changing station, and the entire idea of him growing up just got to me! I knew if I was going to transform this dresser, for my own sanity I needed to make it COMPLETELY different than it was before. I needed to be able to detach! So, out went the old white paint, and in came the bold and over the top purple, turquoise, and copper.
I went with Wise Owl's Black Cherry and Deep Turquoise, blended together with a Cling On brush. I varnished it with Matte Varnish to give it just a hint of sheen but a ton of durability. To make it sparkle, I added a heavy dose of copper to the legs and all the edges.
And for a moment of reminiscing...here's what it looked like after I originally painted it white and set it up in our nursery. Now, if you don't mind, I'll just be over here squeezing my giant 3 year old, while crying about how quickly he is growing up!!
I'm working on a beautiful console table with a glass insert top and knew from the moment I saw it, that I wanted to try out a faux mercury glass finish . I'd never done this technique before, so I scrolled through Pinterest to search for tutorials. It turns out that creating a mercury glass look is pretty simple, only requires a few products, and can be done in a short amount of time. I was sold! What I wasn't so sure about was which product I should use. A lot of tutorials recommend Krylon Looking Glass spray paint, while others swear by Rust-Oleum Mirror Effect, but I couldn't find a clear side by side comparison of the two. Since this is going to be used on a piece I'll be listing for sale, I wanted to try both and decide for myself which gives the best results.
I ran to Home Depot to buy The Rustoleum spray and headed to Walmart to get Krylon. Both come in a significantly smaller can than your typical spray paint and cost quite a bit more (just under $9 a can for each brand). But for a gorgeous mercury glass finish on a table top? $9 isn't too awful. Especially when you factor in the cost of the other products required. Chances are, you've already got everything else needed on hand, bringing your additional costs down to zilch. You'll need some paper towels, a spray bottle, some water, a bit of vinegar, and glass. That's really it! For a little extra touch, I added in a bit of black spray paint at the end, but that is optional. Now, on to the steps and the side by side comparison!!
1.) Set up a work space. This is spray paint, so you will have some over spray. I laid down some paper, put my glass panels down, and got to work. (TIP! Be sure to put your glass face down! You want to do all of your painting on the backside of your glass. When you are all finished, you will flip your glass over to see your final result!) You'll want everything nearby because this paint dries fast and you won't have a ton of time in between coats. If you are using the Krylon paint, grab a flat head screw driver to pry the top off the can....that lid is no joke!! (The Rust-Oleum lid pops right off)
2.) Spray a thin coat of your mirror spray paint onto your glass. I immediately noticed a difference in the two sprays. The Krylon spray goes on in a much finer mist, sprays evenly, and doesn't pool. But oh my gosh does it stink!! Get some ventilation, wear a mask, or do this outside! I was working in the basement and the entire house smelled for hours. The Rust-Oleum spray has a different nozzle and the spray puddled up multiple times. (You can see in the photo, after the first coat, the Rust-Oleum is clearly splotchy!) It took a lot more effort to get an even spray, with some spots being overly saturated while other spots were bare. On the plus side, it didn't smell nearly as bad as the Krylon.
3.) Let the paint dry for 1 minute. Both cans recommend 1 minute, but Krylon clearly dried faster. You can see it drying before your eyes. The Rust-Oleum took a bit longer, but part of that may have been because it sprayed so much heavier.
4.) Paint 5 thin layers, allowing it to dry for 1 minute between each layer.
5.) When you are satisfied with your coverage and have a consistent, mirrored look, its time to grab the vinegar!! I used a spray bottle and made a mixture of equal parts tap water and vinegar. No need to measure, this isn't an exact science. Just eyeball a 50/50 mix. Set your spray nozzle to a semi-fine mist and spray it on top of your paint. Let it sit for a few minutes (I waited 5 minutes) and it will begin to eat through your mirror paint.
6.) Fold up a paper towel and spray it with your vinegar solution. Gently pat it onto your glass. Your paper towel will pull up the bits of paint that the vinegar touched, leaving little spots in the finish. This is where your mercury glass look will start to appear! Now is where your artistic touch comes into play. You can do as much or as little as you'd like, the more you pat, the more paint comes off. This is where a clear difference showed in the two brands of paint. The Krylon came off in tiny speckles, exactly where the vinegar had splattered. The Rust-Oleum came off in much larger pieces, and looked like I had wiped it off completely in some areas. There was a ton of paint on the paper towel for the Rust-Oleum and hardly any at all on the Krylon paper towel.
7.) You can stop here if you are happy with your mercury glass! For a little more dimension, I chose to do another thin coat of mirror paint, careful to not over saturate. I wanted some areas with heavier paint, some thinner, and some missing paint all together, to give a more authentic aged look.
8.) This step is completely optional: When everything was fairly dry (I waited ten minute; this stuff dries quick!) I went back over everything with a very thin coat of black spray paint. In true mercury glass, there are small speckles of black mixed in with the silver and the clear glass. I did a quick thin coat with a basic black spray paint and called it a day!
That's it!! Super easy, right? I was pretty happy with both final products, but I had a clear winner. In the end, I like the look of the tiny speckles of clear glass much more than the large spots. And because of that, I'm choosing to use the Krylon Looking Glass spray for my project. In addition to that, the Krylon also won me over with how evenly it sprayed. The Rust-Oleum was harder to control, puddled, and created a more inconsistent look overall. The only down sides to the Krylon product were the awful smell and how much effort it took to get the lid off (but I fully admit, that could have just been user error). If I was in a pinch and only had access to Rust-Oleum, I'd definitely use it! But if I had my choice, and in this day and age of good old Amazon, we do, I'd go with Krylon hands down.
I'd love to know what you think!! Have you tried either of these products? Did you have similar results? I'd love to hear!!
Want to watch as I work on the table top? Check out the video below!
Hi!! I've been slacking with the ol' website and it is in desperate need of a boost. Nothing better than adding a blog where I can document my projects, travels, adventures, and shopping finds, right? So with that said, welcome!! I hope to add lots of photos, tips and tricks, and even behind the scenes insights into what the lives behind The Copper Elm really look like. Please let me know if there's anything you'd like to see!!
I am currently sitting in our rental house just outside Arroyo Seco, New Mexico. We are down here for a week spending some much needed time with our family. We've been site seeing around Taos and the surrounding mountains and I've taken about a million photos that just need to be shared. The landscape itself is just breathtaking, but I keep getting distracted by the amazing architecture. Every house we pass has a huge splash of teal or yellow, beautiful wood carvings, hand crafted iron hardware. There is art seeping out of every inch of this town. My favorite part of the amazing buildings here has been the intricate front doors. I'm a firm believer that the front door of one's home says a lot about what lies behind it...and Taos is clearly full of character and beauty. Take a look and let me know what you think! Aren't these phenomenal??