Thursday, August 28, 2014

Painting Chairs the Easy Way

Lucy asked me to paint her set of 8 beautiful Chippendale dining chairs. I gave her a quote, she accepted, we scheduled in the job and last week she brought me the first four chairs to paint. We had to do them in two lots as all 8 didn't fit in her car.  It suited me anyway as it meant I didn't have half painted chairs ALL over my house.

Lucy and I decided on a colour for her chairs, the paint type and sheen. She wanted very durable chairs that should could wipe down and that didn't require any ongoing maintenance. I didn't think that a waxed finish would fit that bill so I suggested we use Dulux Aqua Enamel in a semi gloss. Dulux Aqua Enamel is a fantastic paint that dries very hard.  It's the modern equivalent of oil paint with the added benefit of a non-yellowing formula. The colour Lucy chose was Dulux Light Rice Half. It's a lovely non-yellow beigey white.

I sanded the first chair lightly and started hand painting on the primer and I quickly realised I'd very much under-quoted on these chairs. Quoting on chairs is always a complete bitch difficult - they take a long time to paint but no one seems to appreciate just how time consuming and fiddly they are to paint and they don't want to pay very much for chairs. To be honest, I don't usually agree to paint chairs as I'd rather paint a whole chest of drawers than one chair. As these Chippendale chairs are very ornate and huge and dark, dark brown, it took me ages just to do one semi-translucent primer coat. I was going to be earning about $2 an hour on them!!

My clever Phil suggested I crack open the paint sprayer that Bosch sent me 8 months ago to trial. It's the Bosch PFS 55, a fine spray, portable hand held system that retails for around $100.

I seriously had the sprayer stashed under the bed as I had been very nervous about using it. I told Bosch that eventually I would get around to using it - I just needed to summon the courage. I have always been 100% about hand painting but these chairs really needed the primer to be sprayed at least. I set up a make shift spray booth in the back yard and sat down to read the instruction manual. It seemed pretty straight forward and I'm a bit of a jump right in and have a go person so I watered down the primer, set up the spray gun and started spraying. Wow it was fantastic!! I know it's just a DIY level tool and not a professional level fine finish sprayer but it's also a fraction of the price and perfect for my use especially when I am hand painting over the finish.

A solid coat of primer in about about 3 minutes and no drips or runs. This was better for my profitability and hourly rate! I quickly sprayed all the chairs and let them dry for a few days. (Stopped by the rain Sydney has been having but it was fine by me as it's always good to give the paint a good cure time between coats). I sprayed two coats of the Dulux Aqua Enamel, sanding lightly between coats.

For the last coat I hand brushed the paint to give them the look that Lucy wanted. Because Aqua Enamel dries so very hard, I had a little trouble distressing these chairs and ended up using a razor blade to lightly distress them.

Lucy came to pick up the first four the other day and was so happy with them that she even got a little teary. They are for a dining setting given to her by her much loved mother who recently passed away. It's so hard losing our mums isn't it? I am very happy knowing that I've made these chairs how Lucy wanted them and she will use them and think of her mum.

Now for it to stop raining so I can paint the other four. Maybe I'll even watch the instruction DVD that comes with it!

So my tip for a very quick and easy way to paint chairs is use a spray gun at least for the undercoat/primer. I'll definitely be using the Bosch PSF 55 again. I was completely surprised by how easy it was to use, what a great finish it gave and how quick the clean up was. I'm not sure what I was afraid of!

love from a girl 
who has just learnt something new!
Fiona xx


  1. Thanks for the advice. Will think about it when I get around to painting mine.

    1. Jan, it makes it a million times easier. still tedious but easier!

  2. Fantastic! I can just picture eight of them as a setting - beautiful.

  3. Hey Fiona you are a girl after my own heart, I have been married 44yrs and have painted every house we have lived in originally a Sydney girl (Padstow) then eventually here in Brisbane (24yrs) we moved house 14 months ago and here I am again painting through this house to create a home and its looking great, have also done heaps of furniture and have loved the change. Furniture for the formal lounge room I used Brisbane based Blake and Taylor drop dead gorgeous paint and it revamped my very tired looking pine( you get that don't you)...more to go but having a few breaks in all of what you do and yes those chairs of wow, I so know how much work it involves, they are lovely and loved the Bosch sprayer, did it spray everywhere or easy to control? Must get me one and thanks so much for recommending the Dulux Aqua Enamel, I presume water based...happy painting, it is so rewarding, hard work but I was raised by a very handy Dad and I have kept it going as has my sister, and yes hard losing Mum I did 3 months ago and miss her even if she was old she was my Mum, Lyn Brisbane

    1. hi Lynn
      THe Bosch sprayer was great. I did get paint on my parsley plant but besides that not too much over spray. It is a very fine spray and pretty easy to control especially as I'm a complete novice. Good luck with all your painting. How good a pine furniture makeover! So sorry to hear about your mum. so very hard. sending love and take care

  4. When I saw your blog title "Painting Chairs the Easy Way", I chuckled and thought...yea, there ain't no easy way to paint chairs! :) You are so right about the pain in the neck they present....A spray gun makes absolute sense! So glad you cracked it open....because they turned out beautifully!

    1. Thanks Robin. I still have to finish the other four. The weather has been terrible in Sydney. We’ve had one sunny day and I was busy doing other things so they still remained only primed. Hopefully tomorrow is better!

  5. The finish looks PERFECT! (so now, everything is perfect about those chairs... esp. the claw feet!) I am so happy with your advice; I too like the brush-in-hand, but sometimes...

    Bosch to the rescue! I will be looking for this for Christmas for sure!

    P.S. I was under the impression that primer should not be diluted. Is it just for airspray, or is it okay to do this when brushing over details?


Thanks for taking the time to comment! Sorry if you have trouble commenting, you can always email me at