Happy Monday. Truly. I know Mondays are hard, but I just love my job so much that I look forward to the first day of the work week. Today’s post is an important read for those of you trying to find a way to perfect your furniture finishes. Even if you are working with water based products – keep reading.
Orange peel is the bane of any high-gloss painter’s existence. Or at least it should be! Two years ago when I was rolling paint, OP was just part of the deal – I expected it because that’s the kind of texture a roller leaves. At the time, I didn’t really notice it and certainly wasn’t bothered. But once you spray, my friends, you never EVER go back. If you’re rolling (and hence, getting roller textures/OP) and want to switch over to spraying – spraying has its flaws too. Sometimes the stars align and it sprays really well, but 99% of the time, not every contributing element is perfect and the result is OP or other issues with the finish. For example, if it isn’t thinned quite right or a warm climate keeps the paint from flowing out perfectly, the result is OP. Or, all those little specks that land in a surface before it’s dry (especially oil that takes two days to fully dry) – all that can be fixed!
I will warn you that if you adopt this technique for your own furniture business, prepare yourself to be an ultra critical furniture finish snob. You will judge every piece you’ve ever painted and probably cringe. You’ll notice all the flaws in furniture you purchased new. In fact, on Friday I was looking at my son’s crib as I was changing the sheets. The crib is from Pottery Barn Kids and has the original factory finish…and I noticed ORANGE PEEL all over that thing. Over the weekend we went to Room & Board which I consider to be pretty fancy and their brand new lacquered dressers don’t hold a candle to the finish I’ve been able to get; even factory furniture is NOT AS GOOD as what you’ll get with my friend Kayla’s technique that I’ve linked to below.
Here’s a picture of a crib at Room & Board:
Here’s a picture of a dresser at Room & Board – I set some books on it to see if I could get it to reflect like mine:
Not even close, even though the lacquer on the furniture was a glossy sheen.
Rubbing out a surface certainly isn’t anything new, but this is the first time I’ve seen anyone in my circle of furniture friends doing – and sharing – such skilled work. It is a regular part of the process for automotive painters, but I’ve always considered that to be something that requires tools and skills I will never have. I’ve observed perfection in very high-end furniture stores like Jonathan Adler and I can guarantee they’re using a similar technique because you just can’t get that flawless look without a process like this.
You may be thinking – I don’t paint with oil, so will this work for a water based finish? The answer is: I think so, but I haven’t tried it quite yet.
Last week I was talking to my friend Crystal at Team Sutton Designs because we were trying to troubleshoot some finish issues with a water based gloss polyurethane surface she was working on. I use gloss poly quite a bit over my water based pieces, so she reached out for help. I made a few videos for Crystal showing her the tools and demonstrating the rub out process and explained how I thought, in theory, it would also work over a water based topcoat using a dual action sander (aka: DA sander – one of the tools Kayla recommends in her post that I linked to below) and micro mesh, a product recommended to me by an employee at Woodcraft for rubbing out high gloss poly. It’s basically super fine sand paper that starts at 1,500 grit and goes up to 12,000 – you just work your way up to first get rid of any surface imperfections and then bring back the shine! With this process you would skip the buffing stage and just continue with the micromesh. I haven’t personally tried it yet because I haven’t used gloss poly on my last few projects, but I will be trying it soon. For those of you that want to know how it worked out for Crystal, send her a note to ask.
So without further ado, it’s time to leave OP in the dust (no pun intended!). The new standard for high gloss for the DIY furniture restorer should look something like a sheet of glass with a mirror-like reflection. Kayla tells you all about it on her blog in this post. Stop by, read it, and subscribe!
Here is some photo inspiration of what I’ve personally been able to accomplish using her technique:
My before | after for this Stanley piece will blow you away! This one was about to head in to the booth for a 5th repaint, but then I called a local automotive painting shop and asked for helped. The guy told me that they rub out their surfaces by hand using the same sandpaper grits that I use on my sander. I was actually able to rescue this one from repaint using the automotive guy’s technique and it turned out beautifully. The reason I had problems in the first place was because the 1000 grit sandpaper I was using on my DA had worn down and I couldn’t get the sheen to come back using worn sandpaper. I immediately ordered a box of 50 off amazon to avoid this problem in the future!
This Drexel piece was really nice right out of the sprayer, but trust me when I say – it CAN be better!!!
This Long Legged Dixie was my first finished piece in Fine Paints of Europe and the first piece I rubbed out.
I fixed this Broyhill Saga several times, but the final result was dang good.
Stay tuned! I have several more posts coming with tidbits about painting your own pieces in oil enamel. Thanks for stopping by!