Two-Toned Down

Two weekends ago, our church had a yard sale filled with lots of donated treasures; the proceeds of which went to a bunch of our youth group teens who are going on a mission trip this summer.

Among those things donated was this solid wood table and chair set:
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And actually, it was donated last year for the same fundraiser but didn’t sell.  It’s seen better days and a picture doesn’t really acknowledge that – peeling paint and a slightly warped top.  It probably had a really cheery life though considering the fun paint job, no?

Well, who shows up at the smell of great potential that apparently no one sees?  You oughta know by now…yes, yes I did.

I helped transform the table into this to be (hopefully) sold to benefit the mission trip:
IMG_3733(For some reason the fabric seat on the chair on the bottom right looks darker than that of the chair on the bottom left but they’re the same fabric so it must just be the angle of the camera on the geometric print.  Also, the table top was removed for delivery and so it’s a little off-center in the picture simply because it was just set on top for a quick pic.  In case you were wondering about those things, which you probably weren’t, I thought I’d fine-print them.) 
However, I can only take a little bit of credit because, even though I had the vision, I didn’t do all the work.  Some of the teens going on the mission trip sanded everything down just enough that the peeling paint was gone and what was left was nice and smooth.  Another teen (hey Duncan!) painted the big ‘ole base of the table and the love of my life painted the top.  I finished painting the chairs (the teens started), did the distressing, and added a little flavor to the table top.

But let’s break it down a little more than that, shall we?  Of course we shall.

The Chairs
Like I mentioned above, they were rocking lots of peeling paint and some slick vinyl seats that were in need of replacements.  First, we took all the seats off.  Since they were nestled right inside the chair frame, no screws were holding them in place nor did any need to be, so they just popped right out with a little pressure from underneath.  The chairs were then sanded and two or three coats of chalk paint (this in ‘Kid Gloves’ from Lowe’s) were applied.  We decided to go with chalk paint mainly because I had heard there was no prep or primer needed to apply it so we thought it easiest since multiple people would be working on the chairs.  I’ll go into more in a little bit, but I probably won’t ever use chalk paint again.  Half of the chairs were painted with a brush and the final coat was done with two cans of spray chalk paint because we ran out of the canned stuff and thought spraying them would be quicker, which it was.

Once they were painted and completely dry, I went over some of the edges with a palm sander paired with fine-grit sandpaper to give them a slightly distressed look.
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A palm sander is a lot quicker than sanding by hand but it requires a bit more care as it can easily get away from you if you’re not paying attention.  After sanding, Anthony put a coat of polycrylic on each chair to seal the chalk paint.

The fabric that we recovered the seats with was a remnant donated by someone to be sold at the yard sale and it ended up being perfect for these chairs.  It’s a heavy-weight upholstery fabric so it’ll hold up great.  The boards that made up the seat on a couple of the chairs were broken, so Anthony grabbed some thin plywood and replaced them.  The seats were made of a wood frame that was curved at the front (you can see the that curve in front in the pictures) so the plywood was placed right over the frame.  We used thin plywood because it needed to be able to bend to the shape of the frame and chair once attached.
IMG_3716I’m sorry I didn’t take more pictures but I wasn’t around when a lot of the refinishing was happening.  :(

Each chair was the same but also a little different since the distressing was done in different spots but they turned out so great, didn’t they?
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The Table
To help straighten out the table top (it was slightly warped), we laid it on the hard tile floor of the youth center for a day and piled some weights on the underside (and when I write “we” I mean Anthony…don’t go all freaking out on me because you think this preggo lifted some weights).  It didn’t completely straighten it out but helped and it made it far less noticeable and luckily, it wasn’t set-your-plate-on-it-and-watch-it-slide-off bad in the first place.  The base was painted with the same chalk paint we used on the chairs and the top was painted a gray color, mixed at 50% intensity (I think the color was “Woolen Stocking”, but in the paint can form). 

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To add a little more character, I added a layer of this stain on top of the dried and quickly sanded chalk paint (sanding chalk paint with a fine sandpaper after it’s dry makes it really smooth).  Using a foam brush, I brushed on one coat, making sure I brushed in the same direction as the grain of the wood and/or the placement of the boards that made up the table top.
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Halfway done:
IMG_3683Imperfection is completely okay with this step and really, the more imperfect, the more character after.

I actually had to do this twice because, the first time around, the polycrylic layer we put over the stain bubbled because of the foam roller we used.  So we had to sand the entire top down and repaint, restain, and reseal.  This picture was taken after the first time I applied the stain.  I loved how it looked before I had to wipe it off and I was tempted to leave it that way.IMG_3572
But back to round two, after applying the stain, I let it sit for two minutes and then wiped it off with an old t-shirt.  I made sure to wipe in long sweeps and once again, with the grain of the wood.  (I did stain around the edge too and along the small lip underneath, in case you were wondering.)
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It took a whole day for the stain to dry and then, once it was, I brushed on (vs. rolling on like the first time) two coats of polycrylic, allowing the first coat to dry completely and be lightly sanded before the second coat went on.  I like using polycrylic instead of polyuerathane 1) because it doesn’t yellow near as much even though it still yellows a teeny-tiny, possibly unnoticeable bit when painted over white and 2) because it’s soap and water clean-up. 

So here’s the thing about the chalk paint.  I see it being used EVERYWHERE around here.  I’m guessing the no-prep feature makes it a hit because it definitely isn’t the price.  That stuff costs $$$.  The chalk paint we bought from Lowe’s cost $30 for a quart and, for us, that covered one coat of paint per chair, three coats for the table base, and a couple of coats of paint on the two small doors and three small drawers of a hutch that’s also being refinished to sell.  I feel like we could’ve gotten more painted with a quart of $15 latex paint…but maybe I’m not factoring in primer which I know helps a ton when we’re talking coverage.  Even still, it’s double the price of the latex paint I use to paint furniture and the coverage seems to be less or not that different without a primer.  Also, while no-prep sounds appealing, the thing with chalk paint is that you have to seal it.  I mean, you HAVE to…unless you’re painting something that will never be touched post-paint.  I know this because, while they were painting this table, another teen was painting another table and that table got water on it.  The water made it so that you could literally take your finger, swipe it over the surface of the table, and watch the paint come off with your finger – not something you want happening to your furniture ever, ever, ever.  A lot of people seal chalk paint with a wax and some with a polycrylic or even polyuerathane.  Wax sealer doesn’t harden so, while it prevents liquid and fingerprints from getting to the paint beneath, you can’t place anything hot on it because, like wax does when it gets near heat, it’ll melt and stain.  Also, I’ve read that it wears off over time so anything sealed with wax will eventually have to be resealed.  So, in the end, you don’t have to prep by sanding or priming but you do have to seal so really, you’re doing extra work whether you use latex or chalk paint.  It’s in the beginning with latex (primer) and in the end with chalk paint (sealer).  For me personally, the cost will probably deter me from ever using chalk paint again.  I mean, we spent close to $50 alone on paint for this table!  I can get the same distressed, antique look if I want with latex and I feel like, in the end, it’s a lot more durable.  But, that’s just me.  You painters out there, what do you prefer?  What are your experiences with chalk paint?

Anyway, back to the object at hand, which once was a fun table that is still a fun table, just a little toned-down. 

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We all need that sometimes, right?  Maybe it’s called entering adulthood…or maybe just parenthood.  Supposedly that’s when all the fun stops.  Supposedly.

I beg to differ.  ;)

.           .           .

P.S.  The table ended up selling before the day of the yard sale and while it was half finished.  A lady came in to buy something else that we had posted online to profit the mission trip team when she saw the table and fell in love.  Next up is french provincial-style hutch that’s awaiting a makeover that I’m going to help with…hopefully before this baby gets here. 

11 comments

  1. Wow! What an improvement! I've only used chalk paint a few times -- to make slates for my kiddos and to try to jazz up an old charger. The paint didn't stick to the charger (I shouldn't have been surprised about that), but it took to the wood beautifully to make some old fashioned slates.

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    1. The slates sound cool! Were they slates for your kids to draw on or just decorative ones?

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  2. I've used it because of all the rave reviews, but I am really not into the distressed look too much. I did like the no prep factor. I sealed it with wax. I will say, however, if you liked working with it there are homemade chalk paint recipes out there which of course would be cheaper. Just a thought. Since I'm not into the distressed look too much, I don't think the coverage was all that it was cut out to be for the application I was looking for. So my opinion is still torn on this paint.

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    1. You're like me; the distressed look isn't my favorite either. I've seen homemade recipes but I've never really had a reason to try them. I actually thought about looking them up for this table but then I was scared that if the one I tried didn't work, the yard sale would be out a table due to me. Whoops! ;) I guess that, unless you really want to achieve that distressed look that chalk paint is good for, there wouldn't be much of a good reason to use it otherwise. Maybe?...

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  3. Did you sell the table and chairs at the yard sale?

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    1. Yes! I kinda forgot to mention that! Haha! There were a few pieces that they redid to make a little more money off of them and this table was one I just helped with. :)

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    2. that is fantastic! What a great way to use your talents and teach the kids a lesson at the same time!

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  4. What an amazing transformation! So much fun to be apart of a project like that 😊. I have used the Annie Sloan chalk paint & haven't loved the results. I purchased a quart ($40) and used a Minwax wax sealer (I did not distress) and have used it on a few projects. After living with the pieces for over a year now, I am disappointed at the durability and longevity of the finish. It is very delicate and ages quickly. It almost seems to naturally distress. Since I didn't want a distressed finish on the pieces, it has been a real disappointment. Not planning to use it again. Totally agree with your sentiments.

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    1. I was actually really wondering how Annie Sloan chalk paint was! As far as chalk paint is concerned, that's the best stuff supposedly so it made me wonder if maybe ours just didn't stack up or if chalk paint just really isn't made for durability. That answers my question! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Now that I've delved into a side cabinet painting business I've come to strongly dislike chalk paint. That wax finish is extremely sticky and not durable whatsoever. As an up and coming pro... I know it's all in the prep and I never trust anything that promotes skipping prep work. Nothing can beat a good sand!

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    1. Yes! So glad to hear a pro's two cents and happy that I'm not crazy in not liking chalk paint! :)

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A penny for your thoughts? Or how about you give your two cents? Whatever the change, I'd love to know what you think and I try my best to respond! If your name is linked to your email, I'll hit you up there. If not, check back! I'd love to see you again anyway! :)