Friday, June 14, 2013

Solving Paint Problems

Common Paint Problems and Solutions

I get asked a lot of questions about painting furniture and how to solve particular problems that you are having with your projects. I thought I'd share some of my solutions. 

This is not about being a perfectionist and having to do a perfect job or judging your work harshly.  I am all for DIY and giving everything a go and seeing if you can do it yourself; saying that I also believe that if you are going to put money, time and effort into transforming a piece of furniture for your home or someone else's, you may as well do as good a job as possible.

painting when it's extremely hot or humid can be difficult

Hot weather and gluggy paint: when you are painting in hot weather or even very humid conditions, your paint can sometimes dry too fast and go all gluggy. This means your brush marks become very obvious and it can be difficult to lay down a smooth coat. I recently had some emails from readers in Darwin and Brisbane with this problem and my recommendation is to add some Floetrol to your paint. If you are using chalk paint, you can also just add a little water as a first step. Floetrol is an additive specially formulated for use with water-based paints and wood stains, it makes them work and feel like an oil-based paint. Floetrol increases the drying time, improves workability and eliminates brush marks.  I have resorted to adding Floetrol to all my paint in summer months as I was having so many days when it was just too hot to paint. I absolutely love how this product increases the workability of the paint and the smooth finish it provides. If you are using oil based paint, the product you need is Penetrol. You can buy these products in most Australian and American hardware and paint shops (and no doubt elsewhere). You only need a little to add to your paint: in Australia 1 litre costs $20 in Bunnings.

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Paint Drips: I have had several readers ask me how to avoid the dreaded paint drip. The problem with paint drips is that even if you sand them off, they are often still noticeable as the paint colour is deeper where the drip was. My advice is to ensure you don't let your paint drip in the first place. Take your time and be vigilant. Paint drips usually occur from overloading your paint brush or using paint that is too thin. (Always stir your paint well before starting to paint. I either use a wand on the end of my cordless drill or one of those paint stirrers that look like a ruler with holes in it.) If you catch the drip while the paint is still relatively wet, you can probably feather brush out the drip with the tip of your brush. I always check my work as I go, looking carefully at the edges of a piece to ensure there are no drips. For example paint the top of a cabinet and then look at the side/top edges to make sure no paint has run over the edge. Feather the paint over edges and around corners to ensure drips don't occur. Don't over load your paint brush: a good guide is the ferrule of your paint brush should always remain clean. If you have paint on your brush handle (or running down your hand, like my husband paints) then you are dipping your brush too far into your tin of paint.


However saying that: if you do find a drip that you have missed and the paint is nearly dry, dab the paint drip off with a damp cloth or paper towel. If it's totally dry then scrape the drip off with a razor blade (making sure you don't gouge the wood). Once you have removed the raised part of the drip, then sand the area with fine sandpaper. Only sand in the direction of the drip. Then repaint the whole area with one or two top coats and your blemish should be barely noticeable - a lot of work that can be avoided by checking your work as you go.


Removing brush hairs from Paint

Brush Hairs in your Paint work. While there are some very famous paintings in art galleries around the world with artist brush hairs preserved in the paint, it is not something you want to find on your painted furniture.  The best way to avoid this is to use quality brushes. See my guide on Selecting the Right Paint Brush.  If you have a brush hair in your wet paint, you should be able to tease it off with a wet paint brush. Twist the brush as you pass over the hair to flick it up. If the paint is already dry, pick off the hair with tweezers, your fingertips or a scalpel.  You will be left with a little divot, sand gently and repaint the surface.

Paint beading up: sometimes your primer, paint or even Annie Sloan Chalk Paint will not stick to your surface and sort of ball up into droplets. This is usually because your surface is either a bit greasy, dirty or too smooth. Clean your surface well before painting and drying it. There are loads of commercial wood cleaners out there but water with a drop of detergent and some elbow grease will usually do the trick. You can also give your piece a quick sand with a foam sander or medium to fine sandpaper. Please note that you do not need to remove the previous surface (unless it's flaky) but you do want to create a surface that has some grip in it for the paint. Sometimes with ASCP it is enough to keep brushing the paint on until it sticks. The second coat will then lay down better over your previous coat.



Bleed Through: Bleed through occurs when the resins and oil in the wood or old stains show through your freshly painted surface as a pink, reddish or brown mark. Teak wood is terrible for this - particularly Balinese furniture and I have made a vow to myself to never paint teak again.  It will also occur with old "mahogany" furniture from the 1930s and 40s. Lacquer, shellac or shellac based primer will usually solve this (such as oil based Zinsser BIN) but you may need more than one coat particularly if it's teak wood. Often the best solution is to spray the primer on, rather than brushing, as brushing somehow agitates the bleeding.  I have a spray can of primer to fix these problems as I don't own a spray gun. I have seen many complaints from people that Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (which you are meant to use without  primer) still shows bleed through. Come on people, it's a good paint but not miraculous! So if you have this problem, just cover the area with a shellac primer, lacquer or shellac and then repaint with ASCP or whatever paint you are using.  Don't keep adding layers of paint in the hope it will cover the stain, as it just won't.


this teak Balinese bench nearly killed me, taking 7 coats of Zinsser Bin to stop the bleeding. The spray can solved it in the end. Never again.

Paint Transparency - When you are painting with bright pure whites you will need a lot of coats of paint to get a solid surface.  Professional painters will always recommend you don't use untinted paint and, unfortunately from personal experience, I agree. I used untinted white on our wood trim in our house and it takes so many coats of paint just to get good solidness of white.  If I had added just a few drops of tint into the paint (or used a commercially available white) then it would have been easier to paint. I find that Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint in Pure White is the same. I absolutely love this bright white but you will need 4-5 coats to fully cover dark wood. My solution  is to use 2 coats of a good primer and then 2-3 coats of ASCP. Yes it's the same amount of work but it will give you a much better result for a cheaper cost. Often it's only when you apply the wax that you realise you can see the wood showing through. Some people like this effect, personally I don't.

Freshly Painted Surfaces Chipping or Scratching: Understand that paint can take several weeks to cure. Oil paint may take even longer. So give your painted furniture a chance, and use it gently at first. Don't put items on top of freshly painted surfaces for at least a week. You can either scratch it or compress the paint.  If you are painting furniture for clients, ensure you don't finish the piece on the same day that the client is picking it up. I usually have a finished piece curing here for at least 4 to 5 days before I advise it's ready to be picked up. I also ensure my clients wrap the furniture carefully in blankets for transportation. Once your paint is cured, it will be very durable but be patient, reign in your excitement about finishing your piece and give it the time it needs.

Yellowing: White and other lightly tint oil based paints and clear varnishes will yellow over time due to the oxidation of the alkyds in the paint or varnish.  This will occur most rapidly in areas or rooms where there is a lack of sunlight. The best solution for this is to avoid oil based paint entirely and use the huge array of water based paints and top coats.  Never ever use an oil based varnish over white paint! See my post of choosing paint for more information.

Poor Sheen Uniformity - sometimes when you look at your painted surface in certain lights or at low angles and especially when using gloss, satin or eggshell paint you will see shiny spots or dull spots on the painted surface; this uneven gloss is called flashing.  Possible causes of this are: the failure to properly prime a porous surface or painting on a surface with varying degrees of porosity, poor application resulting in lapping, or painting over a previous coat that is not fully dry. I actually have this problem on one of my kitchen cabinet doors. It occurred when I went back and painted a section that was not fully dry and I ruined the uniform sheen. That's what happens when you paint 16 hours straight in one day to finish your kitchen! It is only visible in the evenings from certain angles but it annoys me. The best solution is to apply an additional coat of paint over the whole surface uniformly. I will get around to doing this someday! Furniture especially unsealed or unpainted wood should be primed before applying the top coat to ensure a uniformly porous surface. Make sure to apply paint from 'wet to dry' ie keep the wet edge to prevent lapping.



So what painting problems have you had? Have I missed anything?

I find that Every. Single. Piece. of furniture is difficult in some way. Not one project goes perfectly smoothly. Perhaps it's missing handles, wonky drawers, bleed through... there is always something that does not go as planned and half your time will be spent problem solving. So I hope this list can provide you some direction and solutions.

I am no expert nor professionally trained. I am just quite practised at this painting of old vintage furniture now and have had a lot of "learning opportunities" along that way.  I am always happy to share my knowledge and hopefully save you some trouble. If you have a particular problem that I haven't covered, feel free to contact me. 

See my other tutorials here

yours in all things paint
Fiona xx


How to paint vintage furniture

49 comments:

  1. This is a great resource, Fiona, fabulously written and I'm sure everyone will love it. I will definitely be referring to this when I'm next painting. Thank you so much.

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    1. thanks so much Marti, I really appreciate that,.

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  2. Thanks for this Fiona. And I do think you are an expert at painting furniture. You work is very beautiful!
    Beth x

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  3. I just found your fun Paint Project and would love to have you link up and my party!

    http://startathome.blogspot.com/2013/06/paint-party-and-giveaway.html

    I will follow on my way out!!

    Brooke

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  4. thanks for the interesting post. problem solving can take up a lot of time , especially discovering a dreaded drip! willl remember your advice next time.

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    1. thanks Veronica, yes I hate seeing drips so I make sure it NEVER happens. and problem solving takes up way too much time!

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  5. Thanks Fiona for all your help on email also. This is perfect. Jen x

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    1. my pleasure Jen, hope you sorted out your dresser.

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  6. Wow - Very comprehensive. Good tips.

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    1. thanks Kylie - it's good to have it all in one place to refer people to.

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  7. Hi Fiona, Great tips, thanks for sharing your painting knowledge.

    Regards

    Karen

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    1. thanks so much Karen, Hope you are going well. I'm so impressed you have time to paint and blog with a baby!!

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  8. Thankyou Fiona for sharing your wealth of knowledge it is very much appreciated.
    I am just about to tackle a pile of furniture I have been collecting.
    Karyn x

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    1. hi Karyn, how exciting for you. Enjoy the process and the outcome!

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  9. Excellent tips! Thanks for your generosity of spirit:)

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    1. thanks Libby, glad to help. I'm a big believer in sharing information.

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  10. Wonderful hints! You are so generous with your knowledge. I am very new to the paintbrush, so some of us need all the help we can get with painting. :)

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    1. Glad to help Jo, hope you have a good weekend
      Fiona x

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  11. Great and valuable post! I am psyching myself up to repaint something I painted white recently and use chalk paint and wax afterwards! Looking forward to getting stuck in. It is great to come here as you really seem to know your stuff.

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    1. Thanks Marianne, I am big on researching that I don’t know and have done a lot of painted furniture over the last few years so it’s a lot of trial and error. Glad to help. Fiona

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  12. Thank you Fiona for your detailed post. This is amazingly helpful and I have learnt so much. You are incredible with your energy and makeovers and helping other people with their own painting. We all owe you a debt of gratitude.
    have a lovely weekend
    Wendy

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    1. hi Wendy - I appreciate that. I am just happy to see everyone painting and having fun with it
      cheers Fiona

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  13. Great tips Fiona! Will remember the razor blade if I end up with drips! I have ASCP Pure White so I'll be very interested to see how it works out.

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    1. Hi Catherine – I’ll be very interested to see how you get on with it. Love to hear.
      Fiona

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  14. Thanks for the great tips. I learned how to fix drips with wet/dry sandpaper on one of my very first spray painting project, an antique iron bed. The paper is a little more difficult to find than when I first started using it, but it is easy to recognize because of the graphite color. You can use it dry, but for drips, I wet the sandpaper in a bucket of water and lightly sand the run or drip until it is smooth. No sanding dust is created and a fine grit paper (300-600) evens out the paint to a perfectly smooth finish. When the sand paper becomes full, just rinse it in the bucket of water and reuse. I generally go over the entire surface of any piece of furniture with an emery cloth (1500 grit) before applying an appropriate finish. This evens out the finish, gets rid of brush marks, and makes the surface as smooth as glass.
    I have begun tinting any primer the same color as the final paint. It generally saves on paint because there is pigment in the primer.
    Hope these additional tips are helpful.

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    1. hi Patty - that is a great hint. I'm going to check out that sand paper. I've found it an auto dealer here. I also use wet sandpaper occasionally. But this is a great way to sue it. thanks so much for sharing your knowledge here.
      Fiona x

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  15. It is good to know how to solve paint problems.

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  16. Merci pour vos précieux conseils. Très utile. Bonne fin de journée.

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  17. Thank you so much for the lovely advice, it will help a lot!
    If you would like to take a part in our Snoopy Valentine’s Day Giveaway have a look at our website:
    http://touchthewood.co.uk/snoopy-valentines-day-giveaway/
    Kind regards
    Kat

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  18. Hello! Thank you for sharing these helpful tips , you are such a lovely lady . I do have a Q ; have you used "Smart Craft " paint brand on your furnitures? I find it at the craft store in tOns of gorgeous color.but I am not sure does it exactly for furnitures .thank you

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  19. Hello, I just love your blog- I read it every morning as I am having breakfast. Thank you for all your wonderful tips.
    I wanted to ask you what colour trim you used in your house- you mentioned you used Dulux Sleigh for the walls. Your white trim looks lovely and there are so many whites to buy when you go to the paint shop!
    Thankyou, Kim

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    1. hi Kim. my white trim is pure untinted paint. probably not the best choice though as you need a lot of coats!
      and thanks for the lovely feedback!
      Fiona

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  20. Hi
    I have painted with ASCP, though I love the colours, I haven't had the success with it not scratching off. Maybe I didn't sand varnish off enough. One was a chair that had never been painted the last 40 years. Anyway I want to paint my kitchen. Did you paint yours by brush? Did you add plaster of paris or calcium carbonate in water based enamel. Do I seal with porters? its a big area. Did you spray paint or hand paint? I want to make sure my kitchen will last. Thank you

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    1. Hi when you paint with ASCP do you wax topcoat it? And let it cure?
      I personally would not use ASCP in a kitchen. My choice these days would be dulux aqua enamel. First clean your cabinets, lightly sand, dust/ wipe down well. Then use a quality primer such as Zinsser. Then two - three coats of the aqua enamel. No top coat. Takes some practice to get an even sheen but it's very hard wearing and you can use spray and wipe to clean.
      Good luck with it
      Fiona

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    2. Hi Fiona. Yes I waxed it twice waiting 2 days. Now its 1 year old. I probably didn't sand properly.
      In the kitchen with aqua enamel no sealer???. Is this a low sheen? Did you spray paint or roller or brush?. Can I stencil on top?I have a black granite top. Yellow walls, apricot mottled tiles and dusky purple couch with ASCP entertainment and duchess and hutch out of a mixture of old white and orche ,and cocoa tops. I love the cocoa. It has a purple hue in it. I would love to intergrate it into kitchen, even dry white brush. Or maybe a very pale almost white version of cocoa. I have picture frame style cupboards. Just trying to visualise. What have you seen done that is shabby chic and work in a kitchen. I was reading about antique glazing. I lover your door handle. I suppose they can make all the difference. Great to have an Australian site

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  21. Hi fiona

    i am wanting to paint some teak units, would recommend using a coat of a coat of shelkac first then a couple if coats of primer before using chalk paint? I have seen several different chalk paints mentioned in blogs. Which one would you recommend i have seen names such as annie sloan, Authentico and valspar

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  22. Hi fiona

    i am wanting to paint some teak units, would recommend using a coat of a coat of shelkac first then a couple if coats of primer before using chalk paint? I have seen several different chalk paints mentioned in blogs. Which one would you recommend i have seen names such as annie sloan, Authentico and valspar

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    1. Hi Maria, I would definitely recommend using ZInsser BIN shellac based primer, do a couple of coats. As per the chalk paint, where do you live?

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  23. Hi Fiona,
    I just found your blog. I saw your comments about painting some Balinese furniture - where you said it nearly killed you - it does sound challenging.
    I purchased a large and very heavy beautifully carved 3 door Balinese buffet in a dark colour - I think it is teak (I don't know why I bought the dark one, it doesn't go with anything in my house and I would love to be able to paint it a light oak colour - not trying to make it look like wood - but just getting it to a similar colour tone - at the moment it looms like a large dark monstrous thing among my mostly light furniture! (Like some monster reminding me of what a silly purchase it was!) Why oh why did I not buy the pale lime washed one...
    I see the above comment about paining teak units - should I paint it with one coat of Shellac first and then paint over it with a pale colour that tones in with the other light oak furniture? Would I try a satin type paint.
    Any tips would be so helpful Fiona before I embark on this project.

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    1. Hi Toni give me a call on 0405766445 to discuss , cheers Fiona

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  24. Hi Fiona and readers,
    I have a simple question about a color conundrum. I painted a black dresser with a mustard yellow chalk paint. It looked beautiful after sanding because it has nice details on the drawers. But over time I couldn't get used to the color. I recently painted it over in a lavender. When I sanded around the edges to make it look worn, the mustard color came through, which did not look attractive at all. I repainted those areas in lavender and tried using dark wax for a worn effect. It ended up looking dirty. I'm not sure what to try next. I'm thinking of trying another color over the lavender...? I am not happy with just the lavender, unsanded and unworn. Or maybe I can do a wash over it? I am not sure what color might look good over the lavender.
    Any advice is welcomed! Thank you.

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    1. Hi Lauren, if i were you I would probably sand or strip off all the paint and start again. the yellow will always show up when you distress. or try a french linen or white wash over the lavender, good luck
      Fiona

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  25. Hi there,

    The chalk paint in my pot has dried into a solid/ paste. Is there a way that I can make this useable, or should I bin and buy new paint?

    Thanks so much

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Thanks for taking the time to comment! (Sorry if you have trouble commenting, I'm trying to sort it out)