How to Achieve a Smooth Finish -a Buffet using Latex Paint
I saw this buffet on Kijiji and couldn’t drive there fast enough, I didn’t realize it would need a complete furniture makeover. It was out on a farm in a big red barn with different types of old furniture. Its solid wood and I loved the French provincial style of it. Then I made the same old mistake that happens to me all too often, falling in love with a piece before you buy it? Please tell me that happens to you too?
Unfortunately, the light in the barn was not good and I had my instant love blinders on. I did not notice how horrible the black paint was. It was obviously spray painted and there were nicks and scratches on it. With the drawers removed you can see the horrible paint over spray that was throughout the interior of the cabinet. What was I thinking?
The buffet is solid wood and I love the bones of this piece so much I used it for over a year before tackling refinishing it. I had to be in the frame of mind to start as the finish I want on this buffet was going to take a few days to complete.
Latex paint is the only paint that I can get an icy smooth finish on with a paint brush. Here’s a test, go run your hand along the commercial finish of your dining table, or china cabinet. Then go run your hand along the wall? One is so much rougher than the other. Painting your furniture this way gives you that icy smooth surface of commercial finished products.
Stripping the Buffet
You will need the following supplies to strip and prepare the buffet for refinishing.
A paint scraper
Old or cheap paintbrushes
Goggles for eye protection
80, 120 and 220 grit sandpaper
The first step was to remove as much of the paint as possible with a chemical stripper. Follow the directions on the can. I put on goggles, gloves and a long sleeve shirt before using a dollar store brush to stroke on a thick layer of the stripper. Then immediately cover the buffet with plastic wrap.
The plastic wrap prevents the stripper from evaporating and drying out. You will use about half the stripper that you would use without the plastic wrap.
Leave for at least 10 minutes and if the paint is bubbling, use a paint scraper and remove the paint. Please be careful while working with the chemical stripper it can really burn.`
Once the majority of the paint has been removed, remove the remainder of the paint with steel wool., this works very well, especially in any dips and grooves. Dip the steel wool into the stripper and then rub the rest of the paint off. The next photo shows the difference the steel wool made on the top of the drawer.u
Strip off as much of the previous paint as possible.
Repeat the process for the buffet and all the drawers. I took my time and finished stripping the dresser over two days.
Sanding the Buffet
Thoroughly sand the wood, starting with 80, then 120, and finally 220 grit sanding paper. It is okay to use a sander for this but sand by hand to get in corners and grooves. This part took me three days to do, it is lots of work, but I am sure you can do it in less time as I needed lots of breaks.z
Repainting the Buffet
To refinish the buffet you will need:
White latex paint. (Benjamin Moore – Linen White)
Clean paint brushes
220 and 280 grit sandpaper
Once the wood is sanded, apply a coat of primer, then lightly hand sand with first 120 and then 220 grit sandpaper. Wipe the dust off with a soft cloth.
Repeat with three coats of paint, lightly sanding between each coat with 220 sandpaper. This picture shows how the paint gathers. It is so much smoother when you sand the paint layers.w
Before applying the next coat of paint, run your hand over all the surfaces and resand any rough spots with the 220 grit sandpaper. The rough portions from early coats transfer through to the next coat where you can’t sand them off.
After you have painted the buffet with three coats your buffet makeover is almost done.
Apply the Final Coating
This buffet is going to be used regularly so I top coated it with polyurethane instead of using wax.
Apply one coat of polyurethane and let dry very well. Sand with 280 sandpaper wipe with a soft cloth and then repeat. The shine is wonderful and the surfaces are so sandy smooth.
Updating the Hardware
Spray paint all the hardware with gold metallic spray paint. Apply it lightly on one side, check for runs and let dry very well. Flip the handled hardware over and paint any unpainted sections. Let dry overnight before reattaching to the buffet.
I admit this is a significant amount of work, but I love the outcome. This buffet is exactly how I wanted it, its bright, shiny and best of all solid wood. To me its worth every hour.
Have a great week and I hope I convinced you that working with latex is worth the final result.
Update: I originally finished the dresser before Christmas and it spent more than a year in the living room. Since then I have moved it to my grand daughters guest room and just love it there.
After using the buffet for another couple of years, I moved it to my little grand daughters’ bedroom. It looks so pretty in there with all their little girl accessories.