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Is it okay to have my furniture painted?

Ultimately, that really is for you to decide. But a little careful prep can go a long way to preserving your furniture for the future.

Painting furniture can add an element of customization to a preexisting piece as well as keep an otherwise 'unwanted' piece of furniture from ending up in a landfill. It is hard to dispute these as good reasons to grab your paint brush (or hire us to use ours) and turn your chair, chest, or table into something uniquely yours.

One way we approach furniture painting is to liken it to having something upholstered: you get to chose a design element (fabric material, color, pattern, etc.) to enjoy but as times and tastes change, it will undoubtedly one day be redone. There are ways to prep your furniture for painting that allow it to be returned to its unpainted state should you chose to do so without permanently damaging the wood or veneer involved.

The internet is full of many DIYers and small furniture 'upcycling' outfits whose process starts with a powered sander (orbital or otherwise). The existing finish is either scuffed enough or is sanded through down to the wood via sanding. (Sometimes these finishes are removed chemically instead, but sanding is typically the next step.) Admittedly, we don't endorse these sanders as without careful and focused technique it is extremely easy for those sanders to add damage to the wood in the form of cross grain scratches or swirl marks. These types of damage can reduced with further hand sanding or scraping, but at the expense of not only more time and labor but also available material. Sanding irreversibly removes material which is something we try to limit as much as possible. Sanding by hand (parallel to the direction of the grain) drastically reduces the chance of damages and removes much less material.

After the existing finish is either scuffed properly or removed, applying a few coats of shellac is a great way to seal your furniture from your primer and paint layer. Subsequent layers will still adhere to the shellac, but these shellac layers are easily removed with alcohol or acetone. This makes the most difficult part of paint removal process much easier: getting the primer and paint out of the pores of the wood. By sealing everything in first, paint has much less chance of hanging around should you change your mind.

By following some of these steps, you and future generations will be able to enjoy your furniture painted or unpainted. We're happy to help guide you if you have further questions on this topic.

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