A few weeks ago, I finished painting a chest/dresser piece for my friend An. I wanted to share this project and tutorial with you guys because there are times and good reasons why painting furniture with enamel (oil based) paint is the best type of paint for some types of furniture revamps.
This furniture piece is the perfect example of when oil based paint is the best choice because it’s going to be used as a small media center for when An’s Grandchildren come to visit, which means this piece will be heavily used. Oil based enamel has a very durable finish that won’t scratch or wear much, even after years of heavy duty use. An oil-based finish also cleans up so much easy than water based paint.
Oil based paints are ideal for furniture pieces like kitchen tables, media centers, front doors, nightstands and pieces that will get used heavily every day. I know some people get nervous and think that painting with oil-based enamel is hard to work with but it’s really not. Also, oil-based finishes have come a very long way and I personally prefer the gorgeous butter satin finish over a water based latex finish. The best part is no top coat is needed and unlike water-based latex, the oil-based finish can go 5-10 years without needing to be repainted.
So below are my tips and tricks for prepping and painting with oil-based enamel if you have a heavy traffic piece that you would like to paint with enamel;
I don’t have a before picture of the chest/dresser but I do have a picture that I took after I primed my friend’s piece:
If you’re going to paint furniture with oil-based paint, you will need to prime the piece with a good oil-based stain blocking primer. I prefer to use Kilz brand because it always works beautifully and very easy to work with:
It’s very important that when you do use Kilz or any other type stain blocking primer that you paint on a thin but good layer. You’ll want just enough primer to cover. After the piece has completely dried overnight, you want to lightly sand the primer to get rid of the primer ridge/brush marks, so you won’t see it on your top layer. It should only take a few minutes and the best way to do it is with a sanding sponge (Lowe’s and Home Depot carry them) like this below. Be sure and use a fine grade grit, so you don’t scratch the piece:
You’ll want to sand the piece until you can no longer feel the ridges and the piece is smooth (do not sand the primer off). This sounds like it would take a long time but you’re just going over the piece lightly to take the edge off and it should only take 10-20 minutes depending on the size.
After you have lightly sanded, wipe down the piece completely with a damp cloth to get all of the residue and allow it to completely dry.
Best Paint to Use
Over the years, I have tried a lot of different types of oil-based paints and my favorite by far is ProClassic from Sherwin Williams in a satin finish. The best paint hands down, easy to work with and the most beautiful butter finish:
A little oil-based paint goes a long way and I painted this whole chest twice with one quart of ProClassic. So you don’t need much at all.
The color I used on this piece was actually a Valspar color that I had matched by Sherwin Williams, so I could use my favorite paint. Here is the formula mix if you’re interested in having the color matched (just show the guys at SW this picture and they’ll do the rest):
The most important tip I have for you is to use the additive Penetrol that helps with eliminating brush marks and it helps turn the paint from honey like to more like oil, to where you have a little more time to brush. Floetrol is used with latex and Penetrol is used with oil-based:
I pick up a few extra plastic paint measuring cups at Sherwin Williams (I think they are $1.00) and I fill the cup about 2/3rds full and add 2/3rds cap full (using the Penetrol cap) and stir until the Penetrol is blended. Be careful, too much Penetrol will make your paint too runny. If you’re not using the Sherwin Williams paint measuring cup, follow the directions on the back of the Penetrol can.
It’s also important to use a brush specifically for oil-based painting. I like to use Purdy brushes (Sherwin Williams and Lowe’s both carry them). It makes all of the difference to use the right brush and bristles! I use an extra plastic measuring cup from Sherwin Williams and fill with paint thinner to clean my brushes after use.
When I paint with oil-based enamel, two coats are all I need. It’s important to wait a full 24 hours to allow the paint to completely dry in between layers. Oil-based paint takes a very long time to dry and it’s usually the full 24 hours.
For the first layer, I paint in one direction and the second layer, I paint my brush strokes in the opposite direction. If you’ve added the Penetrol to your paint, you will see after about 10 minutes that the paint spreads and levels out and brush marks disappear. Don’t panic if you have a lot of brush marks. They will go away if you’re using Penetrol.
The other trick that I do is after I have brushed on a layer of paint, I raise my brush almost straight up and go over brush marks with a very lightly to help even and minimize and marks like this:
The great thing about the Penetrol is even if you can see brush strokes, again, trust me, don’t worry, after about 10 minutes the Penetrol will kick in and the paint will level out.
If you mess up and need to fix something, just add more paint to your brush and go over it again.
Oil-based painting should always be done outside but some of the smaller components can be done inside. I have a ceiling fan in my kitchen and paint a lot on my center island under the fan to get the components to dry faster.
Really and truly, as long as you’re using a brush for oil-based paint and you are doing good layers that are not too thick and not too thin, you should end up with a beautiful finish.
Drying and Curing
After you have painted your piece, oil-based paint takes really a full 7-10 days to dry and cure. While your piece may feel dry to the touch, it is not completely dry and cured for 7-10 days and you will not want to use the piece until that time.
I have written other posts and tutorials about how to paint furniture using oil based paint and if you want to see how I painted our old kitchen table, you can click the image directly below:
If you’re not interested in oil based paint, I have a very in depth latex furniture tutorial that I wrote for beginners. You can get to that post by clicking the image below:
Thanks for stopping by today friends!