Painted furniture can provide a beautiful alternative to traditional oak and mahogany stained furniture, especially if you live in a contemporary house. The inspiration for the many examples on sale today comes primarily from the centuries-old designs that originated in parts of Europe and provide some striking examples of style and grace.
The origins of hand-painted furniture are much earlier than that, however, and it is thought that the Chinese used resin lacquers several millennia ago. Germans and Poles were also early practitioners of furniture painting and these communities, after immigrating into the United States, founded the many Shaker communities. This helps explain why much of the Shaker style of furniture is unpainted.
One significant advantage of painted furniture is the sheer variety of different colours and shades that you can have. No matter what your desire, you can conceive a particular colour or shade and there is a good chance that it can be made. Such versatility means that you can do so many different things with furniture and the right paint and skills. You can stencil it, age it, decorate it and use it to obtain almost any desired effect. Many artists will choose furniture as a canvas on which to express their skill and individuality.
The only substantial downside to going with painted furniture is that the effect of paint tends to not be nearly as long-lasting or durable as a natural wood finish. For that reason, many homeowners opt to protect a painted finish with either a glass top or a clear coat of varnish. Select your paint with great care and always pick one that is designed for painting wood – metal paint and masonry paint are unsuitable for the delicate nature of wood and they will only hide the beauty of the wood.
If you intend to paint a piece of furniture then it is critical to prepare the wood with caution and care. Chips, dings and scratches must be addressed with wood filler. Allow the filler to dry completely, and then sand it smooth with fine-grade sandpaper such as 220 grit. Always sand with and not against the grain of the wood or you will scratch the surface. Sand in the direction of the grain until you can feel no imperfections with your fingertips. If you can feel it, then you can assume it will become highly visible once painted. Clear any dust with a clean cloth and you are ready to prime, stain or varnish. Here it is worth spending money on the best you can afford. The cheaper brands simply will not cover or last very long
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