The Magic of Stain over Paint
We have had a lot of support from our great neighbors as we continue to embark on this entrepreneurial journey. Sometimes we tend to lose sight of all of the great people that have helped us, believed in us, and entrusted us to work on some of their treasured possessions. In many ways, this project was a nod to all of those individuals and the amazing family that allowed us to work our magic on this project.
Our sweet neighbors collaborated with us on this project. They had a dark bedroom suite, and it was time for a refresh. Their goal was to brighten it up and match the color to some other grey pieces in their bedroom. Since the furniture was made from a combination of materials, we weren't able to sand it all the way down to do a new coat of stain. So, we opted for a stain-over-paint option to give them a faux stain look that has color and depth. They were inspired by some of our other stain-over-paint work, like our Drexel Dresser or our French Provincial Dining Table.
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This project was a little different for us because it featured a bedroom suite that was already in good condition but just wasn't exactly the style that the owners desired. The owners had purchased a beautiful picture frame (pictured below) that featured a combination of gray and brown, which created a warm and inviting tone. The challenge for us was to try to match the bedroom suite with the picture frame as close as possible.
Due to the veneer on the bedroom suite pieces being fairly thin, we had to get creative on incorporating the gray and brown tones to the pieces. We had tried a stain-over-paint process on another project in the past and absolutely loved how it turned out, so we thought that a similar process with this project would yield a similar result.
After deciding on the process, we had to determine the right tone of paint to use as the foundation and the right color of stain to apply over the top of the paint. As pictured below, we utilized four 2 x 4 pieces of lumber to test out the different combinations of paint and stain. With the help of the owners of the furniture, we determined that the best combination was Valspar's Cinnamon Sugar paint and Varathane's Carbon Gray stain.
Due to our hesitancy to sand the thin veneer, we added a coat of primer to the pieces to provide a better surface for the paint to adhere to. We also wanted to make sure we blocked out the original wood tones as much as possible.
Primer is thick and, in many ways, different from applying paint. We recommend using either a cheap paintbrush that you can dispose of after the primer process.
We applied several coats of primer and used a 220-grit sandpaper in between each coat once fully dry. This helps to remove clumps or dust particles in between coats. Make sure to wipe off the dust between each coat. Follow the instructions on your can of primer if needed.
After the Primer Dried, we moved on to painting the pieces. We used Valspar's Cabinet Furniture Paint in a Cinnamon Sugar color for this project. The tone of the paint was important because it created the base brown tone needed to achieve the desired grayish/brown blend.
We used Purdy paintbrushes to apply the three coats of paint. Three coats of paint were needed to completely cover the primer applied in the previous step.
We then applied the Carbon Gray Stain to the pieces. Sydney applied the stain using Scott Paint & Stain Cloths. We decided to apply the stain with cloths so that we could have better control over the amount of stain being applied, and it allowed us to create a look that we thought worked for this project. We made long swipes with the cloth to give it a faux wood grain.
Since the color combination that worked the best to match this family's framed art, we had to use an oil-based stain on top of the paint. This meant that we had to do thin coats and it took much more time to cure on top of the paint between each coat. We did 3 coats of stain total.
Also, a little warning, make sure you know where the stain can is at all times so that you don't trip over it and knock it over; lesson learned on this project after spilling it all over our living room floor.
We have had pretty good luck over the years with using polycrylic finish. It is a water-based finish, and it is much more forgiving than oil-based finishes like polyurethane. We love it because it is easy to apply with a brush, it dries quickly, it offers a matte finish, and it does not yellow when it ages. We used 3-4 coats of matte finish on these pieces. After the 2nd coat, we used 220-grit sandpaper in between the 2nd and 3rd coat and between the 3rd and 4th coat. This leaves a smooth finish in the end.
As with any project, we had some hiccups along the way. We learned several lessons and continue to practice patience with ourselves. Each piece we complete challenges us in new ways, driving us to be curious about techniques and the artistry of furniture refinishing.
Staging our photos in a variety of spaces helps individuals find their inner designer. Every person's preferences are different. You can use these in a rustic environment, with a modern setup, or with some boho vibes. Check out some fun options below.
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Josh and Sydney are life adventurers that love to learn and create. We are exact opposites and enjoy gaining new perspective. Our home is where our varying personalities shine, and we use it to gather our friends and family together.