How to Paint a Table

 I got a couple of questions about how I painted this World Market table from an earlier post (here) . Sorry I don't have step by step pictures, but I can tell you how I did it.

1.  Priming and prep is key.  What really determines how well a painted finish will hold up is how well the piece is prepared to take the paint.  If it's not properly sanded, cleaned, and primed, no amount of paint or finishing topcoats will keep the paint from chipping and peeling.  For the best adhesion, I always use oil-based X-I-M primer tinted either a dark grey (for dark colors) or tinted as close to the color of the final finish as possible.  X-I-M is an adhesive primer.  It literally glues itself onto the surface, and by making it's color as close to the final coat as possible, it's easier to get depth of color and hide minor scratches in the painted coat. 

I've used other primers, including Sherwin-Williams' adhesive primer and had overall good results, but I find X-I-M is far superior.  It is obnoxious to work with:  it smells awful, it dries so quickly that it can be hard to avoid brush strokes, and clean up is time consuming, but it is worth it.  It sticks to anything, including glossy, hard to prime surfaces like laminate, melamine, glass, and tile.

In this project, I had the primer tinted to dark gray.  This table has a rough finish, so I didn't have to do any other prep rather than wipe it down with a rag dampened with mineral spirits. 

2.  Sand.  I usually use extra fine steel wool, with a fine grit sand paper used for any stubborn drips or blobs.

3. Paint.  I wanted to have a "stained" look in gray, so I next applied two sheer coats of paint.  Since this is a table that will get heavy use, I used oil paint.  I have found that oil paint just seems to hold up better to regular use and handling, so that's what I prefer for cabinets or any furniture that will be handled often. 

To replicate the look of a wood finish, it's important to make sure that your painted surface has some variations in color, just like wood.  To do that, I actually mixed two tones of gray (sorry, I don't remember the names), a medium charcoal and a lighter taupe.  You could do the same thing with browns if you wanted a dark wood finish, such as an espresso.  In that case, I would use a dark brown (i recommend Sherwin Williams Black Bean) and a lighter one (SW Kaffee).  What I do is set up three containers:  one each for the colors I'm using and one of paint thinner.  Keeping the colors separate, but using the same brush keep wet with thinner, I'll alternate colors, brushing until they are blended on the surface but enough that you can see some variation.  To replicate a wood look, it's crucial to only brush in the direction of the wood grain.  And I do recommend brushing as opposed to rolling.  And, these need to be thin, thin, thin coats.  For a natural, translucent look, we want layers of sheer color.  This is where the tinted primer becomes so useful.  Since it is also a gray, I can allow bits of it to show through.

 3.  Highlight graining. This table has a rough, heavily grained surface.  To highlight this, I brushed on a top layer of thinned down oil paint, again using a mix of color, in this case, I used pure black and SW black bean, an extremely dark brown.  I was mainly trying to get the glaze into the crevices and crannies.  If the top wasn't so textured, I would do a simliar top coat; however, I would dry brush the darker colors on, mimicking grain lines.  Again, it is crucial to brush and wipe in the direction of the grain.

4.  Topcoat.  This table will be used often, so I applied oil based polyurethane in a matte finish to the top, two sheer coats.  I prefer waxing, but it's not as heavy duty a finish.

I hope this helps.  If you have any questions, please email me at:  hms70119@me.com