Special Techniques for Your Unfinished Furniture

 

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You want to go beyond simply staining your wood furniture, but you’re not sure what to do? Distressing or antiquing can be a way to make something new look old (and beautiful). Here, we discuss some techniques you can use to finish your unfinished furniture with flair.

Distressing, Antiquing, Glazing

Water based Milk Paints can be used with glazes and water based stains to create decorative finishes such as distressing, antiquing, faux marble, rag rolling, or color washing. Creating these layered techniques requires using layers of color combined with sanding techniques. The results are stunning and well worth the effort.

  1. Distressing is a technique of marking the wood to give the character of generations of use. Start by gathering the essentials of character building; hammers, nails, screws, old hardware, literally anything you can pound into the wood that would leave an imprint. Then start hammering away. If it’s been a long week and you need a lift, start a little character therapy project for yourself. Get rid of all that stress and finish a piece of furniture at the same time!
  2. Antiquing is another form of distressing using sanding techniques, often followed by glazing to give the appearance of an antique piece of furniture that has been well taken care of over the years but, has slight natural wear and discoloration on the doors, edges, or sides. Walk into any furniture store in Nashville, or Knoxville, TN, and the trend toward using stains and finishes to create an antique look becomes abundantly clear. Corners and other recesses show the remains of an “old” finish while more exposed surfaces seem to have been “worn away” by time and use. This look of aging did not come from time but from a simple finishing technique that, with a little practice, you can master. Besides applying stains and topcoats, this process involves selective sanding of the “base stain” and wiping in of a “top stain,” so it’s best to use scrap wood get a hands-on feel for how the stains will look on the particular wood you’re using. Here’s how to do it all, step by step.
  3. Glazing is the process of applying a translucent color to the surface, and then rubbing off the excess glaze to create many effects.

Applying Milk Paints

  • Do I Need A Primer? Although Milk Paints can be applied directly onto bare wood, the use of an additional coat of Milk Paint as a “primer” is recommended for heavy grained wood such as Oak, Pine or Parawood, especially with light colors. Most dark Milk Paint colors do not need a primer. If you want a smoother finish, just add a third coat.
  • Remove hardware from furniture. Taking a little extra time to remove backs of cabinets, drawer fronts etc., will make staining much easier. Milk Paints may be intermixed to create additional colors. Snow White or Antique White will soften darker colors.
  • If working in high temperatures or low humidity, Milk Paints may be thinned with 10-20% water or General Finishes Extender (3 to 6 oz. per quart) to improve open time for application.
  • If working over existing paint or finish, always test a small area to make sure paint will adhere. Sand glossy surfaces with #120 grit sandpaper before proceeding.
  • Make disposable paint trays by covering paper plates with aluminum foil.
  • Test the color on the underside of the project. It is your responsibility to insure that the color is what you want.
  • Always stir the contents well. Stirring distributes pigments that have settled to the bottom of the can.
  • Paint on a wet, liberal coat with a wide foam brush, bristle brush, or paint pad applicator. If too little paint is used, the surface can dry too quickly causing an uneven appearance.
  • Let dry 2 to 4 hours before applying another coat.
  • We recommend two to three coats of paint. If paint is not covering after 2 coats, you are not applying heavily enough. If using different colors of Milk Paint over one another (i.e.-when creating antique finishes) always apply a coat of Top Coat in between the colors to prevent color blending.
  • Dry time is normally 2-4 hours under ideal conditions (70° and 70% humidity). Cooler temperatures or higher humidity will prolong dry time to 8-10 hours. Good ventilation, air movement and higher temperatures will accelerate dry time.
  • Sanding between coats of any stain, paint or top coat is referred to as Buffing. Buff between each coat of Milk Paint with a superfine sanding sponge, #320 or #400 grit sandpaper.
  • Milk Paint dries with a low luster sheen. Although it can be used as a one-can finish, we recommend one application of Water Based Top Coat for increased durability or to increase sheen. It is not necessary to buff after applying final Top Coat.
  • Milk Paints are rated for exterior use, and do not require a Top Coat when used in outdoor applications. General Finishes water based Top Coats are not intended for exterior use.
  • Use Milk Paint for all your outdoor furniture. It is not just an interior product! Classic interior/exterior paints for use with furniture, crafts, and cabinets. Milk Paint is a sturdy outdoor finish perfect for outdoor furniture. Uniquely engineered from the latest paint technology, Milk Paints can be used directly from the can to produce a high quality satin sheen. No mixing messy powders!

Applying Glazes

  • Always test the color on the underside of the project. It is your responsibility to insure that the color is what you want. Do not practice on your new furniture!
  • Always stir the contents well. Stirring distributes pigments that have settled to the bottom of the can.
  • Option: Before applying glaze you have the option of top coating first, which will help you control the amount of color and facilitate the spreading of glaze over the surface. The Top Coat layer is smoother and less absorbent, allowing the glaze to slide across the surface. If you want a rustic look with more color, skip the Top Coat layer and apply the glaze directly to the paint. Start with two base coats of Milk Paint following application instructions shown above.
  • Let the final base coat dry 2-4 hours.
  • Pour Glaze color into a paper plate covered with aluminum foil or painter’s tray. Working one small section at a time, apply the Glaze liberally with a foam brush, synthetic brush or paint pad over entire section, keeping the surface wet with Glaze.
  • Wipe off excess with absorbent wiping cloths or paper towels to achieve desired look. Do not use Tee-shirts.
  • If you want to rework a section, simply rewet the surface with Glaze.
  • Work quickly, so that the Glaze color does not dry before finishing a section. If necessary, mask off smaller sections around raised areas such as bead board and moldings. Glazes dry fairly quickly, so plan your sections before beginning.
  • If working in high temperatures or low humidity, Glaze Effects may be thinned with 10-20% water or General Finishes Extender (3 to 6 oz. per quart) to improve open time for application.
  • Let dry 2-4 hours. Apply water based Top Coat for additional durability or to increase sheen.
  • Applying Top Coats
  • If you are applying Water Based Top Coat over an oil based stain, allow the oil stain to dry a minimum of 48 hours under ideal conditions.
  • Water based top Coats are milky white in the can, but will dry to a crystal clear finish. Stir contents well to insure that all the ingredients are mixed together.
  • Apply with a foam brush,latex paint pad applicator, or by spraying.
  • Apply Top Coats liberally using smooth even strokes working in the direction of the grain. Use enough material to provide a wet film. Do not over brush! Top Coats self level beautifully.
  • Top Coats have *burn in* characteristics and may slightly lift some of the color during the application of the first coat (particularly red colors).
  • On most projects three or four coats of Top Coat is just right. On projects receiving extra wear such as table and desk tops, additional coats will add more protection. Tip: use our High Performance Polyurethane for even more durability.
  • Dry Time of Top Coats
  • Dry time is normally 2-4 hours under ideal conditions (70° and 70% humidity).
  • Cooler temperatures or higher humidity will prolong dry time to 8-10 hours.
  • Good ventilation, air movement and higher temperatures will accelerate dry time.

Distressing or antiquing can make quite an impression with your unfinished wood furniture. Start with these steps and ask us if you need more help.