You’ve probably seen these before, so if you’re not interested knowing a bit about the before, prep and process, I totally get it – skip this post and move on to something else. In fact, if you missed the other posts that had an “after” picture of these dressers, those posts contained significantly more substance and may be worth the read (the “after” was shared as part of my DIY Retractable Spray Booth post and in my Break Up with Benjamin post). In this post, I will be going into a bit of detail on thinning Advance and HVLP spraying….but other than that, this is just your standard furniture reveal post.
I usually get to blogging my before/after posts within a day or two of finishing a project, but I finished and sold these about 1 month ago. I’m not sure why I’ve been dragging my feet on this? I made time for other posts that require significantly more detail. Maybe it was the fact that these pieces drove me completely insane while painting them – so by the time I was done – I never wanted to think about them again? Not sure. Regardless, I’m ready to write about them now.
If you want to know more about the origin of the pieces and how I found vintage replacement campaign hardware for them after all 13 pulls had been stripped, please see this post about the nightstand pair I painted from the same lot of Dixie dressers.
We started with these:
Good functional condition, wear and tear consistent with age, and totally hideous, in my opinion.
I knew from the start that I wanted to use BM Advance as these were the second of two summer projects that I decided to test Advance on as a topcoat-free glossy paint. This was also the first time I would test spraying Advance since I had just put the finishing touches on my spray booth and was ready to put it to use.
For prep, I basically stuck to my usual method. I did quite a bit of bondo-ing and sanding prior to priming to help prepare for a smooth surface. One major improvement to my process that started with these pieces is my new pneumatic disc sander. This tool has been so much easier on my hands than a palm sander! Highly recommend!
Here is a photo of the dressers stacked in the spray booth. They are primed and ready for paint …
For paint, I knew I wanted something neutral and modern. I chose a color from the Benjamin Moore line called “Silver Fox” which I describe as greige or a warm gray.
I had the color mixed in Advance High Gloss which is a waterborne alkyd – meaning it is waterbased, but has similar qualities to an oil based paint.
When I was finally ready to paint these dressers, I further prepped my spray area by laying down wet towels to catch dust and debris.
Without going into too much detail, I will tell you that I had several less-than-acceptable spray sessions before I finally decided it was as good as it would get. I had drips, orange peel, pinholes, fisheye – you name it! (BTW, I have not had most of these problems with normal latex/acrylic paint. Drips – yes, but other texture issues – no). One of two pieces was finished rather quickly – the second piece took an additional two weeks because I had to redo it so many times.
Thinning Recipe: The final ratio that seemed to work for me was to thin by about 10% with the hottest water I could pour out of my tap. I thoroughly stirred the paint with the hot water in a separate container then poured into my HVLP gun.
Spray Gun Calibration: For this paint job, I used my 1.4mm needle (I tried the 2.2mm and that resulted in another redo) and set the PSI on my compressor at 50. Once the paint is in the cup, I always test my spray pattern on a scrap surface. I start by fully opening the air flow valve and nearly closing the paint valve. I gradually open the paint flow until I get a spray pattern I’m happy with. I’d say it’s always safer to start with less paint and adjust as needed.
Angle and Coating: The angle for spraying was also important. Horizontal surfaces are relatively easy to coat, but avoid the temptation to paint too heavily as it seems to create pinholes in the painted surface (sorry the gloss is hard to photograph). When this happens, you either have to sand all the way down or patch with Bondo and sand smooth before painting again. .
When my booth is full, it’s hard to move around without wreaking havoc on freshly painted surfaces…especially with the compressor hose dragging behind me. Because of this, I found myself painting vertical surfaces from awkward angles and sometimes with my not-so-dextrous left hand. This was a big mistake that led to many redos. Make sure that when painting with your HVLP sprayer that the furniture is positioned in a way that allows you to approach it as ergonomically as possible.
Pace & Distance: The best advice I got in the middle of this mess was from my friend Diana at The Collected Eclectic Home; she said her husband, Justin, who paints with Advance for their furniture business, tries to approach painting ‘like a robot.’ For whatever reason, that resonated with me, and after I got the thinning recipe figured out and set up my furniture to approach it from the correct angle, I adjusted my technique to operate like a robot, and it helped so much!
To me, being a “robot” means I am spraying with my right hand using a consistent pattern, maintaining a consistent distance from surface, a slow and steady pace, minimal overlap, etc. Thin coats are better than heavy; less is more! This may seem obvious, but I constantly have to remind myself of all of these things as I’m spraying to stay focused.
Sanding & Recoating : Sanding between coats normally requires 320-400 grit sandpaper. The purpose of this is to remove any minor surface imperfections and rough up the surface just a little bit so the next coat sticks better than it might otherwise. With Advance, I would recommend that you wait a full 48 hours before sanding and between coats in general. I know the can says 16 hours, but I don’t think that is enough. For my smoothest surfaces, I used sandpaper on a sanding block to prep for the next coat. Because I had so many issues, I found myself power sanding down several times with heavier grits of paper, particularly on the sides where it was so hard to get a smooth finish.
My final result for these pieces was good. Maybe my standards are low, but while not totally perfect, I thought they looked great. I was never able to make the sides as smooth as the top or drawers fronts, but I was happy with the gloss and as they cured the finish hardened and appeared to be durable.
I think they are perfect, side by side, as a double dresser!
Honestly, I am getting so tired of campaign, but I will never tire of how beautiful brass looks when freshly polished.
For reasons mentioned in this post, I kept staging very simple.
So there you go! I’m all caught up and hope that those of you just starting to experiment with sprayed furniture learned a bit from this post. While some of the advice is specific to my experience with Advance, I would say you can’t go wrong applying the tips to your other water based sprayed furniture projects.
Have a great week!
58 Waterstreet | Friday’s Furniture Fix