Revitalizing Antique Chairs for the Modern World
By Christina Salway
It’s easy to give new life to old wood furniture with a fresh coat of spray paint. The hardest part might be finding a relatively warm place to spray paint in mid-February. But once you’ve set up a dry, well-ventilated spot to work, you can get cracking.
The original chairs (left) and the finished product.
1. Prep your workspace
Lay down a drop cloth so you don’t accidentally spray paint your grass or your garage floor. Use a damp paper towel or rag to wipe down your chairs entirely, making sure there is no dust or grime hiding in between the spools or on the rungs of the base. The chair should be completely clean before you start, because spray paint will highlight every piece of grit you’ve missed.
2. Apply spray paint
Be aware that not all spray paint is created equal. This is a perfect example of getting what you pay for. Spend a little extra on superior paint so you don’t find yourself heading back to the hardware store for another can to fix lousy coverage.
Start by shaking the can vigorously, popping off the top and spraying as uniformly as possible about 12 inches from the chair frame. If you spray too much in one place, the paint will get globby and drippy — definitely not the look you’re after.
You’ll spray on at least one more coat, so don’t focus on getting a totally even, opaque coat the first time. That can also lead to drips and globs.
3. Allow paint to dry
Once you’ve completed your first coat of spray paint, allow it to dry for the paint manufacturer’s recommended amount of time — usually 30 minutes to an hour — before you start the second coat.
Once the paint is dry to the touch, flip the chair over and apply a coat to the underside of the chair frame as well.
4. Add coverage
Once the chair frame is completely covered with the first coat of paint and is dry to the touch, apply two or three more coats to produce a more uniform, solid layer of paint. Allow at least 30 minutes between coats, otherwise you could scuff the paint when you turn the chair over.
Once you’ve finished painting, allow at least a few hours for the paint to fully cure before moving the chair, and wait a full 24 hours before you actually use it to ensure that you don’t smudge or smear the paint.
Once the chair is completely dry, it’s ready to take a place of pride in your home.
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