The Day I Got Carpal Tunnel

I took on a rather ambitious project this past week: refinishing old furniture. Besides doing a shoddy job of painting an old nightstand about 10 years ago, I have fairly limited experience with this. Well, not to boast or anything, but I am pretty much the expert after tackling this project.

These were the chairs to begin with:
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As you can see, they are scratched and cracking all over the place, missing arm rests, and the seat cushions are pretty manky. I thought they would make a fairly dramatic before and after.

Prepping The Chairs

I began by removing the seat cushions. I then gave the chairs a thorough washing with warm water and T.S.P. and let them completely dry.

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Sanding, Sanding, and More Sanding

I began sanding by hand, using sanding sponges instead of paper because the sponges are better at getting in all the nooks and crannies; however, the cracks and damage on the handles meant that I needed to use a power sander, according to my father-in-law who is an expert in the area of refinishing. So I started the process over with an 80 grit sandpaper and then moved to a 120 grit. I then went back to the sponges and used a 180 grit, 220 grit, and finished off with a 320 grit sponge . Because I was painting them and not staining them, I did not have to strip all the previous stain off. The goal was just to get a smooth surface. A smooth surface is  important when you want a high gloss finish because the gloss will showcase all the flaws and unevenness (again, according to my father-in-law). This is what they looked like after several rounds of sanding:

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Primer Time

I then sprayed each chair with Rustoleum Primer. I did two coats of primer and let it dry for an hour.


Painting the Roses Red

Errrr….I mean the chairs blue! I did 4 coats of paint – Rustoleum’s Satin Aqua . The trick was light, continuous sprays, never spraying one area too hard or too long otherwise the paint runs. I  finished off with 4 coats of high gloss lacquer. My poor index fingers were worked to the bone that day!

The Cushion Recover

Those damn seats were covered in staples! I think I removed about one million staples and that was only half of one cushion! I would have recovered right over the old fabric but it had a piping detail that would have left the seat bumpy and uneven. At that point, I decided to work smarter, not harder and ending up cutting off the old covers!

I used this fabric that I purchased from about a year ago that was just waiting to be made into something fabulous. I attached the new fabric with my staple gun. I then screwed the seats back onto the frames.

And here are the chairs now:

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They are now living in my makeup room and I pull one up to my vanity every morning to do my makeup. I have caught the chairs looking at themselves in the mirror a few times and can you blame them? They’re so darn pretty!

So I would say my first refinishing project was a success! Am I itching to do more? We’ll see – it was a lot of work!

Thanks so much for reading!

5 comments on “The Day I Got Carpal Tunnel

  1. says:

    Good Job! Love your blog!
    Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

  2. Mrs Huntsburger says:

    Wow Sharah, dare I say you are becoming quite crafty? I love how 2 chairs with 1 missing arm each can look so cute sitting beside each other! like an elderly couple holding hands :). where did you get the chairs?

  3. Wendy says:

    Wow – looking really good!

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