One of the hardest things for me when I started this business was learning how to properly refinish and refurbish furniture. (Side note: my business started as a refurbishing service. I no longer do it for clients but I still do it for fun!) I spent so many stinking hours researching online to see what other people were doing and what products they preferred. Well after a solid 4 years of experience I now have my own list of preferred paints, stains, and finishes that I’m going to share with you today!
I cannot recommend spray paint enough! I always use spray paint instead of a brush because the finish is smooth and ultimately looks more professional.
Rustoleum is an excellent spray paint that dries quickly and has a good hold. I usually stick to black and white but they do have a variety of colors available as well. Always use a primer first and then apply your paint second.
If you’re working with a surface that is really smooth or shiny (like laminate furniture) I recommend using Zinsser primer. This stuff is incredible and sticks to literally anything. After giving your furniture or decor a good sanding, spray the primer on and apply a couple coats if necessary. Sand it smooth with a fine grit sanding block and then apply your paint. Your finish will have a better hold (won’t scratch or peel as easily) because Zinsser primer has a strong bond.
Side Note #1: I recently discovered the critter spray gun which makes painting a breeze! The best part is, you can use it with any liquid paint so you’re no longer limited to the spray can colors in the store. Read more about that here.
Side Note #2: If you struggle with spray painting or if you have a hard time getting a flawless finish without drips, I’ve got a detailed tutorial explaining what you might be doing wrong and what you should do instead so you can spray paint like the professionals. Check out that tutorial here!
When staining I typically stick to two colors by Minwax. Minwax is known for being the leading stain and finish brand and they’ve proven to have excellent quality products. Although the colors will vary depending on the wood you’re working with, Puritan Pine adds a touch of color to the wood but remains fairly natural. Provincial is a great middle range color that richens the wood tones without getting too dark.
I get a lot of questions regarding whether or not you need to seal/finish your painted or stained work. I almost always recommend applying a clear coat for protection. When it comes to painted surfaces, they can easily get scratched from everyday wear and a clear coat over top will protect your paint from fading or scratching. For stained surfaces I highly recommend applying a finish over top. Unfinished stain will fade in color over time due to sun exposure and normal wear. Also if your stained piece gets wet you’ll see an obvious water spot which will be very difficult to get rid of. In general, a clear coat will protect your work and keep it looking beautiful longer.
Minwax is my go to brand for finishes. For painted surfaces, I always use Polycrylic in clear matte. It’s a smooth, clear finish that protects the paint from scratching or fading. I recommend applying three coats for full coverage.
For stained surfaces, I use Polyurethane in clear satin. This is an oil based finish so it takes longer to dry but the finish is incredibly smooth. It is basically clear, but it does add a little amber color to your wood. I personally like the amber effect because it richens the wood and gives it a vibrant look.
Side Note: I didn’t photograph this product above, but when it comes to exterior doors, or any wood that will be outside, I recommend Helmsman Spar Urethane by Minwax. It’s specifically designed for indoor/outdoor use and will protect your wood from sunlight exposure (which can fade the wood color), rain and moisture (which will cause early wear), and temperature changes (which can cause wood and glue to crack). We used it on our front door and it has held up wonderfully!
There you have it! My go-to paints, stains, and finishes. I hope this information is helpful to you!
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