I’ve had many people ask me how to start out redoing furniture for other people, what tools and products I use. Let me tell ya, like everything else I do, I’ve tried to figure out how to get the biggest bang for my business buck. I’ve spent the last year finding the tools and products that allow me to put forward the best possible product for the least possible overhead, and thus maximize my profit and make the most for my precious time. I started doing this with practically no money, and you can too! If you’ve been asking yourself (or me) what you need to start doing what I’m doing, then this post is for you. 🙂
1. Furniture – Obviously the first thing you will need to start furniture upcycling is furniture.
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Don’t be lured into taking every ugly, free thing that may come your way. (Not that I’m knocking free things or ugly things, by an means! The above dresser I got for free and it certainly was ugly and turned out to be a jewel!) But make sure the pieces you’re putting your valuable time into are worth making over. Keep an eye out for solidly built pieces. I’ve learned the hard way that rickety chairs are just not worth the time and headache.
From the get-go, I’ve set a per piece spending limit of $40. YES, it’s true, every single piece you’ve seen on this blog was purchased for less than $40. Part of the fun (for me at least) is the challenge of trying to find things that are interesting to make over for $40 or less. 🙂
How do I get the screaming deals? I’m a compulsive-Craigslist-checker, yard-sale-rubber-necker, thrift-store-frequenter. In order to snatch up the super-great deals, you need to be the first on the scene (so to speak.) If you’re getting into this as a money making avenue, you need to look at the treasure hunting as part of the job. If you are on top of it, you will get the best deals and you will make more on your pieces when you turn them around.
2. Primer – First, I’d like to say that you should NEVER skip the priming step (unless you’re using a paint that has primer in it or, like chalk paint, doesn’t need a primer.) I generally use a water-based primer in my sprayer. I’ve found very little difference between Kilz and Zinsser. Both are good. Kilz Clean Start is Zero VOC, which is especially good when pregnant, so it’s been winning my vote for a while. 🙂
I also keep some oil based spray primer on hand for pieces that need more stain-blocking (heavilly knotted pine, or dark-stained pieces will sometimes bleed through the water-based primer) or odor covering (musty or smokey smelling pieces.)
3. Paint – When I first started out, before I had a sprayer, I primarily used canned spray paint for furniture makeovers. I still use it a lot for smaller redos that I don’t want to use the sprayer for or for quick hardware updates. My preference is for Krylon brand. Krylon has SO many wonderful colors, and I love their nozzle and the consistency of the paint. Some of my favorite Krylon colors are:
And, of course, I always keep some oil-rubbed bronze and ivory on hand for hardware updates.
The key to adding a hand-done and time-warn finish when using canned spray paint is the addition of distressing and and glazing. Even though the spray paint make for a quick paint application, I always put a lot of time, energy and attention into the distressing and glazing. I’ll talk more about those later.
Another tip to furniture upcycling on the cheap is to keep an eye out for mistints at Home Depot, Lowes, Ace, or paint stores. You can get great deals on some great paint because someone decided the color wasn’t exactly right. The sample paint pots are usually just the right size for a project. I painted the Chevron Dresser with one sample paint pot.
I generally keep an eye out for the sample size pots (50 cents) and quarts ($2.00). I will generally pass by the gallons ($5.00) unless it’s a color that I know I’ll use often, like a shade of white.
I’ve also found the Habitat Restore a great resource for paint mistints. Many paint stores donate their mistints to Habitat to move them along.
In part 2 of this post I plan on talking more about the actual tools I use; brushes, sprayer, sander, etc. I have a lot to share, so this may turn into a 3 part post. 😉
Please comment below if you have any specific questions you’d like me to address in the next addition!