How do you paint pine furniture?
This is a long indepth article on how to paint pine furniture. It is written by professional furniture painters, and aimed at DIY who want to successfully prepare and paint waxed pine, varnished pine, bare or painted, laminate effect.
We have you covered.
You will learn about:
– The abrasives, cleaners and tools you need to effectively and efficiently prepare pine of all descriptions.
– Best brushes and best paint to use
– The steps to take for tackling various furniture painting projects using waterbased eggshell, oil based eggshell or chalk paint
The article starts from the beginning with pre-planning right through to the end. There is a lot to digest if you want to do this properly. There is no single magic bullet that suits all pieces of furniture.
By all means browse through to the end sections on step-by-step painting with oil paint, water-based paint or chalk paint. Take notes. You are welcome to print off or bookmark the full story for future reference.
The better prepared you are, the easier it will be to avoid wasting your money on unsuitable paint and kit.
Hopefully the advice will help DIYers finish a project efficiently to a high standard, so you can stand back and think, wow, that was worth the time and effort!
From one of many readers who has taken the time to read through our info
Thanks so much for recommending Langlows Patina. What a lovely finish. After using so many different products and being totally unsatisfied with the results, I won’t use anything else from now on.
I also bought an orbital sander as a result of reading the info on your site.
Am now researching eggshell finishes on painted furniture – am certain you will have something sensible to say !! More feedback from readers
Did you know, the information here is read on average
8000 12000 times a month. It is regularly updated to ensure it remains the most relevant information online on this topic.
Aim high: A professional approach is the quickest way to workI don’t subscribe to the idea that there is one standard for DIY and another for trade. Just because you aren’t a professional painter, doesn’t mean you can’t do a good painting job.
On the flipside, I have the experience to get over most problems, but I would struggle to use some of the cheapest brushes, DIY fillers and dodgy rollers on sale in big DIY sheds.
For best results, tackle furniture painting like the pros:
Plan, line up your pro quality tools, paint and sundry materials ready. Aim to be conscientious.
– If you have patience and determination and a somewhat arty touch, you can do it!
– The more you do, the easier it becomes.
– So often on forums I see DIYers who have lost their enthusiasm for a painting project, hit by the realisation that painting well requires some level of commitment.
– Often, those who think there is nothing to painting, (you just slap it on) are the ones who end up making mistake after mistake.
– Forget assumptions.
– Don’t follow partially correct tips and don’t take your lead from makeover TV shows, where best trade practice died long ago.
To get started, make sure you have time to finish!
Before you start the work, make sure you have set aside enough free time to complete this project. There is nothing more demoralising than completely underestimating how long a job will take.
The obvious question: how long to allow for painting furniture?
I can only give guidelines, but to give you at least some frame of reference, allow about an hour to paint one coat on a small bedside cabinet, 2 to 3 hours to paint a coat on a 2 door wardrobe, a good hour to paint a spindle backed chair. It could take 4 – 8 hours for each coat of paint on a pine dresser with drawers. On top of that is preparation and some filling and sanding between coats.
Don’t forget drying times
If you are a fast painter, obviously you will get through a lot of work, but you still need to allow for the drying times. Say you are painting one small wardrobe:
– if using oil paint (topcoats or primers) you will need to allow 2 to 3 days from start to finish, obviously only doing a bit of work each day
– acrylic eggshell you need to allow up to 2 days for drying times
– chalk paint projects can be completed in 1 day.
If it seems like an awful lot of work, obviously you can call in a professional furniture painter We can give you a fixed price, and at the end of the job, present you with a finished piece of hand-painted furniture that makes you smile.
Main points to consider before starting
1 – Find a piece of furniture to upcycle
Look through your house, there is bound to be some piece of wooden furniture to revive. Or go to the local second hand store. Or to the local emporium.
This client’s pine table had turned orange and was generally unremarkable. But it was paint-able.
The top was sanded backed and I applied 2 thin coats of the Patina product mentioned above. The legs and base frame were cleaned, and sanded lightly. In this instance I used an oil based primer, basecoat and Little Greene oil eggshell.
Any piece of old pine furniture that has gone orange or seems a little out of touch with current tastes is a good candidate for painting! With correct preparation and a few coats of paint, wax or varnish, you can update a grim 80’s fashion statement into a contemporary feature piece.
2 – Sort out some decent tools
Get the best you can afford. Best tools aren’t always dear.
I really don’t understand why anyone spends the money on rubbish tools from big DIY stores (or poor quality kit from trade merchants for that matter). For the same money or even less, you can find professional quality products that will make the job easier.
If the reason for DIY hell on earth is, “I don’t know what tools I need” or “I am not in the trade so I have no option but to go to B&Q”, then you came to the right site. We can show you how to invest wisely in some great kit and paints.
A good workman should blame their tools if the end result is affected by the poor quality of one of their tools!
3 – Correct sundries for the job
You will need sundry materials to prepare the work area, clean the surface, do same sanding, and some filling, before painting. I will go into detail further down for best masking kit, decorators’ cleaning products, abrasives and fillers.
If you haven’t followed this site before, I doubt you will have any, or many of the products we recommend. It may be tempting to use old paint, old filler, old masking tape, but, please resist.
It would be better overall to load up on the kit that gets the job done easiest and with best results.
4 – Correct paint for the job
All paint can be used with varying degrees of success on furniture.
I know of a furniture company that waxes the primed timber – that’s it, that’s the finish. Anything is possible, but each type of paint requires a different approach to preparation, and some paint is easier to apply than others. Some systems work better than others.
Even in the trade, it is not unusual for painters to gravitate towards the paint type they feel most comfortable applying. A lot of painters won’t touch oil-based paint or chalk paint on principle, or avoid brand X, Y or Z because of one bad experience.
As a rule, if you are inexperienced and looking for a line of least resistance, go for premium “posh” water-based paints.
The above check list applies to any painting project.
Shabby chic or not shabby chic?Let’s take a quick look at shabby chic, which was really the trend that put furniture upcycling on the map.
Shabby chic is basically emulating the natural process of wear and tear on paintwork. It is the term “paint distressing” reworked.
There are a few misconceptions to clear up:
a – shabby chic means rubbish quality
You are trying to emulate wear and tear. It is way off base to assume that all old furniture and woodwork was painted to a rubbish standard before it started to wear off! Back in the day, furniture would have been painted by professionals and DIY, just like nowadays, and there would have been good and bad workmanship.
If you go round any stately home or museum, there are endless examples of fantastic painted furniture from yesteryear. The paint used by pros may not have flowed out as well as modern paint, but they would have had their tricks to achieve very smooth finishes. Eventually their paintwork would have worn off through wear and tear and looked distressed. It is a challenge to try to emulate good paintwork gone old!
In contrast, every homeowner had access to paint and a brush, and could be dangerous let loose on furniture!
“Just freshen it up for us with a quick coat”, isn’t a modern day invention! No doubt furniture was whitewashed by grandma, or odd ends of distemper wall paint were used by homeowners to tidy up old tables, none of which would have looked that great under any sort of scrutiny.
We can emulate the colour ways and the overall effect of old, badly painted furniture, but we aren’t here to show you how to work to the lowest common denominator. Aim for attention to detail, not the cheap and cheerful (long term expensive) approach.
If you want shabby chic, you have to use chalk paint.
Any paint can easily be shabby chic-ed ie distressed with a judicious use of the sanding block, layers of colour, wax, dust, bits of string…
Chalk paint has become synonymous with shabby chic. Chalk paint is definitely a very convenient and adaptable paint that lends itself perfectly to distressing. Because of its ease of use, it has made its mark in the home painting enthusiast market.
The reality though is that any paint (chalk paint, milk paint, egg paint, through to acrylic or oil paint) can be applied flat and even, in a block colour and then distressed.
This wooden headboard was painted with a conventional water based acrylic eggshell and distressed.
They could have used chalk paint, roughed up the edges to imitate wear and tear, and protected it with wax, to achieve the same effect. Or used oil paint and different tinted polyurethane varnishes or glazes.
The point is, if you want a distressed finish, you are not limited to only chalk paint. And if you paint furniture, you are not obliged to distress it.
To see what a professional can do with distressing, Lee Simone gives some brilliant advice on distressed paint finishes for furniture.
Don’t underestimate the power of colour. The right colour combination can elevate a really naff piece of furniture into a stunning feature.
There are many furniture paint options, but the basic starting point for non professionals to make a decision, I think, is one of three:
– Annie Sloan chalk paint
PROS: Water based, no petro-chemical odours. Pure colour mixing. Fast drying. Apply straight on practically any surface, no prep required.
Very flexible: It can be thinned down to act like a tinted lacquer, or be slightly thinned and applied for a beautifully smooth solid coat. It can be left smooth, or the smooth finish can be distressed. Alternatively you can leave the lid off till the paint thickens and then lash it on thick with a spatula or a brush, and leave it textured, or distress it, or wax it or everything in between.
Either way, you have options and chalk paint is forgiving. Skilled painters can work really fast with it, and those who have never painted before will achieve reasonable results in a short time!
CONS: Once painted, you HAVE to protect the chalk paint, usually with wax. Wax has to be applied in thin coats and takes a long time to reach full hardness. The coating is as durable as wax, which for some is not durable enough.
– Acrylic eggshell.
PROS – Modern waterbased paints for woodwork are low odour, quick drying, easy to clean up afterwards, and tough. They can be tinted to almost any colour. Once applied you can leave the solid colour, or you can distress it and seal it with a lacquer or wax.
CONS – Needs a solid clean base. Thorough PREPARATION is required. The surface has to be cleaned, prepared and primed, before the pleasurable part of painting can be done.
Water based paints for woodwork have quirks, and the biggest mistake is not applying it thick enough or playing with it too long, resulting in brush marks that will not flow out.
– Oil eggshellEggshell is traditionally a wall paint, but a long time ago, painters picked up on its durability and it was adopted for using on woodwork. And for painting furniture.
PROS: It is mid sheen, self-undercoating, excellent coverage and durable. The finished paint can be left flat or rubbed back in places and varnished if required.
CONS: It only works well over a thoroughly cleaned, prepared and primed surface.
I like oil eggshell, but if you aren’t confident in your painting abilities, it may be best advice to use a modern low odour water-based paint – acrylic eggshell or chalk paint. Generally the water based approach is favourite for paint effects.
(Almost everything you need to know about Oil v acrylic eggshell)
Best paint sheen and brand furniture paint
This is a much asked question with no silver bullet answer. One paint that does it all on furniture doesn’t exist.
Dealing with variables is the number one issue when painting anything. There are endless paint choices. It is part of the furniture painter’s skill to specify the right paint for the job.
But to keep it simple.
Go for an eggshell finish
Eggshell is mid sheen, and generally a durable finish. Traditionally it is self undercoating. So if you have bare timber, you only need a solid primer plus a few coats of eggshell, and you are good to go.
Which brand of eggshell paint is toughest? Just assume for argument’s sake that most trade eggshell paints are of decent durability, and a handful of premium eggshell paint brands are a bit more durable than most.
In other words, every brand of eggshell you can think of is likely going to be suitable for your furniture. If you apply them right, you will get a good end result.
For that extra few percent reliability, pro furniture painters tend to turn to Scandinavian trade brands like Tikkurila, Alcro or increasingly Benjamin Moore from USA. But as I say, it is so easy to go round and round in one-upmanship. There are always pros and cons. eg Tikkurila enamel isn’t so easy to apply well if you haven’t grasped the basic principle of these enamel finishes, that a solid basecoat is paramount to achieve a solid topcoat.
What sheen is eggshell?
Think 20 – 45% shine (emulsion is about 7% and gloss is 80% or thereabouts)
– trade brand eggshell paints tend to be closer to 30-40% sheen
– posh / designer eggshell paints tend to be flatter and closer to 20-25% sheen.
– Matt furniture paint is about 10%. That level of sheen provides the lowest durability for one pack furniture paints.
– Chalk paint finish is the sheen of the wax you apply over it.
– There really isn’t that much of a price difference between any of them. Costings are a moot point really, when you only need small quantities of paint for the odd piece of furniture.
– It is a fool’s errand me listing prices of paint and trying to say what is best value. Merchants change their prices with their socks and offer so many discounts and terms it is impossible to stay current.
Paint choice is not a perfect science for upcycling furniture
There is no definitive choice.
In my own place I have furniture painted with oil eggshell and acrylic eggshell and chalk paint. The Little Greene oil eggshell is super matt and distressed from excessive use; the Annie Sloan chalk paint is solid; the Fired Earth acrylic eggshell on a dresser is solid but to my eye looks a bit too perfect and plastic in certain light.
I could have gone with Tikkurila Empire satin oil paint instead of Little Greene, and maybe achieved a more durable finish on the cabinet, but I wanted a flatter finish so went with Little Greene. I could have gone with Tikkurila Helmi 30 on the dresser and it would have been even more “perfect” than the Fired Earth finish. I could have distressed the life out the chalk paint but I liked the understated character of a solid finish with a wax coating.
In other words, furniture paint choice can be distilled down to technical performance, but furniture painting veers more towards art. So take your pick and experience will make your future paint choices easier!
Later on, I have provided specific processes for each type of paint.
Here are some of these paint suitable for furniture . And
The overall work plan
Don’t be intimidated by preparation, it can be done quickly and effectively. If you know what you are doing, you can enjoy the whole painting process, knowing you have got off to a good start.
The basic principle is:
a) protect the work area, so your prized flooring and possessions are not damaged while you work on the furniture painting project.
b) clean the surfaces to be painted.
c) Sand to provide a key for painting.
d) Paint the furniture with glee
a – Protect the work area
Floor protection to keep the paint on the furniture not on the floor.
A roll of lining paper works well, or a sheet of One Tuff if you like your floor protection tuff and fluff free. Cotton dust sheets or newspaper, nooooooooooo – that is making life hard for yourself.
There are plenty of painting demos on Youtube where a few pieces of masking tape in the right place would have raised the standard from sloppy DIY to thoughtful professional.
Masking tape is generally graded by how long it can be left on a surface before it creates any damage on removal. 7 – 14 day tapes is plenty good enough for most situations if painting furniture over a weekend.
3M Scotch Blue 2090 is reliable and easy to get hold of. Dolphin is also a reliable blue tape used by Traditional Painters and about half the price of the 3M range. A trip to a Motor Factor will also throw up some good and cheap masking tape, if you are in the market. Tesa have a very good range of tapes for all occasions.
Don’t pay more than £3-£4 for a roll of tape.
Shop for tapes on-line for reasonable prices.
Don’t use old tape on delicate surfaces.
If masking tape doesn’t come off the roll easily, it is probably damaged and definitely should not be used on delicate surfaces.
If you use masking tape on floors, it is good to get in the habit of trying not to walk on it, as that seems increase the bond to the floor.
b) Preparation 101 – Cleaning pine furniture
If you are going to use chalk paint you won’t need any cleaning products. Just dust the surface down.
If you are going to use conventional oil or acrylic or waterborne paints, you will need to make sure the surface is thoroughly degreased, clean and keyed/sanded.
To remove grease, don’t use sugar soap. Try a modern eco decorator’s cleaner that doesn’t hurt or burn you or leave horrible scuzz on the surface.
Krudkutter Original is a good option.
We have successfully used Fluxaf Pro Clean too, it works very well.
It is biodegradable, a fraction of the price of KrudKutter, and most importantly is readily available.
To remove wax with Pro Clean, Fluxaf Pro Clean will serve you well. Mix it 1:1 with warm water, apply it through the spritzer, leave to soak and it will probably dry to look like tea leaves. This is the wax broken down. Go at it with a good kitchen scourer till the surface is clean.
Do wear gloves when using any degreaser. Even natural degreasing products are unable to differentiate between wax and your skin!
I cover abrasives next.
Sandpaper used to be sand bonded to paper. We tend to think of abrasives now, not sand paper! The options available ot you have come a long way since Oakey sandpaper, the stuff that used to disintegrate and stink to high heaven when it got damp!
Mirka Abranet is the way ahead, especially as it comes with such a simple starter kit that attaches to your Henry for instant professional dustless sanding!
Use 80 or 120 grade for rougher sanding.
Sanding between coats
If you use acrylic eggshell, on flat surfaces, sand between coats with 240 or 320 grade abranet, wipe down with a tack rag and your finish will likely be nice and smooth.
On profiles like mouldings, use a spongy sanding pad, or if you have a lot to do, consider Mirka Gold Flex, which is a bit of a revelation for sanding edges without removing too much paint. (Mirka do provide many of the best sanding solutions on the market.)
Chalk paint can be sanded super glassy smooth, but really, there is no need to sand till you have applied the first coat of wax. That is the Annie Sloan way and it really is much cleaner that way if you have no dust extraction equipment.
Across the range, Abranet is used on the roughest woodwork to the highest class autos. It is part of a dustless sanding system. I got started for with an Abranet starter kit which back in 2009 was between £25-£40. I have adopted the whole power sanding system too, but I still have this starter kit, and would use it most days.
The system is a sanding block with a hose and a conical bung at the end of the tube that plugs into your vacuum cleaner, plus some abrasives. Without seeing it, I know its a weird concept, but honestly, it has revolutionised decorating across the board. And this is what the basic kit looks like.
So you use the sanding block for flat areas, the dust goes straight down the tube into your vacuum. For fiddly bits, there are a variety of specialist sponges and blocks available, but for DIY to get the feel for it, the simplest option is an interface pad.
A starter kit comes with an interface pad, which is about 1/2″ thick foam with velcro. I take this pad off the sanding block and use it for sanding profiles.
Don’t bother cutting corners with other brands of sandpaper, you will miss the whole point of Abranet and dustless sanding. (Dustless to the point that 90% + of dust should be captured at source. )
The primary job of an adhesion primer is to adhere to the substrate AND to the subsequent layer of paint, be that an undercoat or eggshell.
Therefore ensure the surface to be primed has a key ie make sure the timber or previous coat of paint is sanded so that under a microscope, there are hooks and nooks and crannies for the primer to soak into and cling to.
There is usually no problem doing the minimum sanding of clean bare timber. It is a good substrate for primer. Old previously painted surfaces usually need between 180 and 80 grade abrasives to be prepared sufficiently well.
Make sure the primer, when dry, is then sanded sufficiently to remove any nibs and imperfections, but without sanding so much that the primer is polished. Try and visualise the primer coat has hooks and you don’t want to sand off all the hooks that are in place to maximise the adhesion and grip onto the next coat.
Some adhesion primers also resist stains from knots and resin from oak. Stain blocker primers have really taken a hold! The industry favourites tend to be shellac based, but there are water-based and oil-based alternatives that will work well if used with a certain level of understanding, else they tend to fail miserably.
I would advise having the primer tinted to match the top coat. It helps on several levels: no white scratch lines if the finish paintwork is damaged down to the primer; matched colours throughout the paint layers improves the density of the top colour.
Oil based AND shellac based primers are very high in VOC content. No difference in fact. So when you see waterbased finishes and low odour, just bear in mind the path to the topcoat may be a smelly one. Keep windows open, wear a respirator ideally. Really, why not! I would keep a nice through draft going when using waterborne paints too, just to get them out the way as quickly as possible. They may not smell but they are still chemical products.
If possible always try to stick to one brand of primer, basecoat and topcoat. In the event of a problem, you are more likely to have the ear of the paint rep. The minute you say you used paints from 2 or more different companies, the buck passing will likely start.
Popular shellac based primer
Zinsser BIN is found in most decorator vans, in a tin or an aerosol can. Two thin coats seems to hold back most known stains. It can be tinted to match most light and mid tone colours.
Mathys Isofix This is a Belgian brand found in the UK. It can be tinted to match most light and mid tone colours.
These primers clean up and can be diluted with meths, so not a great aroma and not really good to be around if the room is poorly ventilated. On the upside they dry really quickly. For large panels, dilute the primer 50-5-ith meths and apply fast and even with a mini microfibre roller. The paint will level out surprisingly well on its own. Apply second coat for solid coverage and after about an hour of drying, you can lightly scuff sand the surface to achieve a nice flat solid base.
Popular oil based primers
Tikkurila Otex – Sold as a stain blocker primer. Not sure about that. I would have a pot of shellac based primer on hand to double coat obvious knots before priming overall.
It flows out to a superb finish, so definitely do not polish this primer when sanding it ready for the next coats. A light and thorough scuff with 180 grade abrasive (or Mirka Mirlon or Goldflex) should be enough to create a key. It can be tinted to match any colour topcoat.
Zinsser Coverstain – tends to sand down very easily to a glassy smooth finish, creates a lot of dust, so best to use dust extraction sanding. Can be tinted to match most light and mid tones.
Tikkurila Unica varnish – this is a long standing product, but I wager very few have ever known about its stain blocker abilities on oak. We certainly didn’t know that a thorough coat once dried is going to hold back tannin. Second coat would be Otex and away you go.
Popular water based primers
Classidur Extrem Swiss firm Classidur were ahead of the game for decades with stain blocking paints. Extrem is their 21st century water based stain blocker primer.
Tikkurila Otex Akva is the waterbased version of Otex. It has a full body and offers high adhesion on prepared surfaces. Definitely do not rely on it to hold back any stains though.
Dulux QD primer The chances are this is a re-branded Sikkens primer, so it will work well. Not a stain blocker though.
Zinsser Bullseye 123…It always gets a mention, personally I avoid it, it is a bit too hit an miss for my liking.
In general, staining is caused by a reaction between the pigment in a waterbased paint and an oily or alkaline substrate. Therefore to hold back a stain, a) let the first coat absorb the oil or resin b) let the first coat dry thoroughly c) apply the second waterbased stainblocker coat without fear of reactivating the stain. That is the theory, and it can be hard to implement in practice on small projects where time is of the essence. If you can wait a day between coats you are probably safe, but 4-8 hours (same day recoating) is pushing it and you may be lucky, you may not. Hence why the trade tend towards shellac quick drying stain blockers.
Types of filler
Fill any obvious holes with a Toupret TX110 or 2-pack filler or wood stopper, but not a DIY “poly” filler which is generally too soft.
If using oil based paints, and you want to stick to old school, you could stop nail heads with linseed oil putty or a plastic wood. Wipe any excess putty or plastic wood off the surface with a rag. Putty skins over sufficiently overnight for painting. Use a chisel to level off plastic wood.
For cracked joints, I use acrylic caulk sparingly before the first top coat.
The extent of your filling is very subjective. I could skim and fill the grain of old pine furniture with Toupret Gras a Lacquer till it had a porcelain blemish free finish, but often it is pointless going that far and a perfect glassy smooth finish may detract from the fact it is a piece of pine. I fill obvious nail holes, and then make a judgement on where I stop. Judging by customers’ responses to the quality of my paintwork, so far, so good! Fillers and primers are getting quite complex bedfellows these days.
If this has been of use, why not keep informed with updates by email. I don’t spam, just send out more tips and ideas that you can use yourself.
Get a decent brush – Why use a decent paint brush?
Your surfaces are prepared, it is getting close to painting time. How are your brushes looking?
When I once asked about the point of buying a bike that fits, the reply was “Would you buy a pair of running shoes that are 2 sizes too small?” Point taken. And the same applies to the logic of buying a cruddy brush! Better brushes hold their shape, hold lots of paint without running, release paint evenly and are well balanced to hold. This combination makes for productive painting and increases the chances of a fine end result.
Synthetic bristle brushes are the way to go for oil or water-borne paint.
Before painting with waterbased paint, always dunk your brush into water so the bristles are wet. Shake it out so there is no water left dribbling down the handle! Wrap in a paper towel if it is too wet.
This pre-priming of the filaments will help the paint flow better and will make it easier to clean out the brush afterwards.
What is the best paint brush?
Just as with “best paint” there isn’t a single brush that does everything 100% well.
There are different paints with different amounts of drag, so a soft bristle brush will leave few marks but may not be strong enough to push paint around.
Sometimes you need finesse on mouldings, sometimes you need to get maximum paint on, so a thinner stock v thicker stock brush comes into play.
And everyone has different size hands, so one handle style won’t suit everyone.
In other words, there are certain brushes that do certain tasks better than others. Every painter has their favourites.
Best brush for acrylic eggshell
The American brushes pictured above are very popular, found in many a pro painter’s brush box, all tried and tested by contributors to this site, and will do you proud in acrylic eggshell.
Looking for a brilliant all round brush, made in the UK, that is a good price?
That would be the phenomenonal brushes – the Fox.
The Fox Paint brush, Developed and Used by Traditional Painters
Traditional Painter and our Trade Corner associates know a bit about brushes.
MyPaintBrush commissioned a traditional paint brush for modern paints. Martin Guest our trusty kitchen and furniture painter in the W Midlands worked with a local brush-maker to develop what are now known as the Fox brushes. In a year, the group produced and tested a revolutionary paint brush range that ticks many many boxes.
The bristles are super fine. The shape has been formed using literally new technology. Other brush makers can achieve the same shape, but with chemicals, which cause bristles to wear out prematurely. The Fox bristles are very robust and also seem to hold a fantastic amount of paint, but still cut a sharp straight line.
Although they are fine and soft, the bristles hold their shape and work in water-based, oil based and heavy shellac based paint. That is phenomenal. Full story on the Fox paint brush here.
As a range, they are genuinely a superlative all-round brush for anyone into painting – suitable for highest quality kitchen painting, furniture painting, super fast emulsioning, and they keep on working well in oil based eggshell, gloss… in chalk paint they are a 9/10.
Can you tell, we are proud of the Fox! And being made in the UK, they are very reasonable prices too, especially in bundles.
Best brush for chalk paint
Annie Sloan sells nice round chalk paint brushes and waxing brushes.
I think the Wooster FTP is one the best conventional brushes for chalk paint. 2.5″ straight cut.
And this a * pure bristle brush for chalk paint AND wax.
Paint brush care
I have updated this section, there is too much water pollution for the good of our long term health, and even occasional cleaning out of water based paint under running taps is not helping.
To minimise washing brushes, and reducing waste and dirty tap water
Treat yourself to a Brush Vest to keep the brush safe and protected overnight
Pros use them to keep their brushes safe while in transit.
Or use the * Paint Brush Cover
Don’t clean your brush every day. Instead, at break times or overnight, place your brush in the cover.
It is designed for protecting bristles and keeping water based paint soft for a few days. It works well, designed for skinny brushes though. That is a Rembrandt, the stockier 2.5″ Fox won’t fit.
This pot of gel will keep your water based AND oil based brushes in perfect condition for months. When you want a break or at the end of the day or at the end of a job, literally wipe off excess paint and dunk the brush into the gel. You can leave it an hour for lunch or with the lid on, 6 – 12 months, and when you come back, scrape gel off bristles into a scrap pot and carry on painting.
Paint doesn’t leach, it can’t.
Under £20, so much hassle saved, very eco friendly, the water savings are massive. What’s not to like! Read more here
Here is a series of videos showing the clever Dutch cleaning systems.
Simple cleaning ensures a really nice synthetic paint brush will last you a long time and it will be a joy to use, and there should be some sense of peace of mind too, knowing that you are using the same kit that pro painters are using, rather than using cheapo brushes from B&Q that pros wouldn’t have much luck with either!
Paint conditioner in water based paints
Acrylic paint on woodwork gets a bad rap because the old generations think it goes on stringy and you can’t get rid of brushmarks. That applied perhaps, back in the early days, but paint technology has come a long way and nowadays, that criticism isn’t true. Acrylic eggshell can be applied to a perfectly flat finish!
Conditioner for acrylic eggshell paint. Try tap water first. If that isn’t working for you, you can add up to 10% Floetrol, instead of water. It is a colourless pure acrylic fluid, so does not diminish the qualities of conventional acrylic paints. Also use a best brush!
IF USING COMPLEX WATER BORNE PAINTS JUST ADD WATER. If you are using a HI TECH PAINT, such as water-borne acrylates, please ask if it has been tested by the manufacturer before adding anything other than water.
Paint chemists will tell you that the Floetrol does extend the drying time of paint, which extends the curing time. This is sort of a moot point. New paint even if dry, needs to be left for about 4 weeks or so before it reaches full hardness. The small margin of extra time to be touch dry / cure overall, because of a conditioner, shouldn’t be cause for concern, just allow a bit longer.
Some decorators will tell you all conditioners are a waste of money! Thinking it through, at worst, if you add 10% Floetrol to most water based paint, you create 10% more usable paint. At best it will give you time to work the paint. And it will help the paint to lie flat with fewer / negligible brushmarks.
XIM Latex Xtender is / was a marmite product. This is an alternative conditioner which some decorators are getting quite attached to. A few drops, keep topping up, turns the paint slippy and improves flow nicely. It has been shown to discolour white Eico Alterior 100% acrylic paint. Floetrol has been proven not to do the same to the same paint.
XIM also contains an alcohol, which technically is anathema to the durability of acrylic resin! It can be made at home, but that’s beyond the brief of this article
Paint conditioner in oil based paints
If you use oil paint, you can add Owatrol oil, up to 10%.
Again, with a bit of technique, the conditioner will help brushmarks flow out nicely. It does extend drying time, but there are a couple of observations here:
Little Greene oil eggshell dries quickly anyway, so extended drying is not a problem.
UK trade oil paints seem to be relatively slow drying, so the root of the criticism about Floetrol retarding drying excessively may well come from the trade.
Come on, come on, how do I paint pine furniture?
There are thousands of blogs and forums that talk about painting pine and painting pine furniture. I see a lot of misconceptions floating around, and home DIY painters especially, are getting in trouble, unnecessarily, following duff advice, or not understanding a few simple principles.
Painting pine properly is not super easy, it is not something any kid could do without thinking. However this isnt rocket science either, and with a few thoughts in the forefront of your mind, any keen DIY painter can achieve excellent painting results.
Paint a pine table with Little Greene eggshell paint
Below is an article I wrote that outlines the fundamental principles for painting pine furniture:
When you have read the article, you should have a clearer picture in your mind of the practical steps and the principles behind painting any pine furniture.
However, there are lots of combinations of primers and paints for different surfaces, so by all means come back here, and below is a series of step by steps to paint varnished pine furniture, paint waxed furniture etc
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Alternative specifications for painting pine furniture the professional way
When deciding which primers and finish paint to use on pine furniture, there is choice. Oil based or water based, or a combination of the two.
All the paints and products mentioned, I use them and stand by them (unless I say otherwise).
Armed with the knowledge above, plus a good paint brush, abranet abrasives, vacuum cleaner with brush attachment, decent paint, a few bits and bobs, and the stages below, you are good to go!
Paint pine furniture with an oil based eggshell finish
I think the combination of water-based primer, oil based undercoat, oil-based eggshell is the solution numero uno that ticks all the boxes for the most durable and, in my opinion, the most beautiful traditional paint finish possible on timber:
Clean the pine
– If woodwork is fairly clean, get your rubber gloves on and wipe it thoroughly with a lint-free rag dampened with white spirit or meths. (Not dripping!)
When the cleaner has evaporated off, sand with 120 or 180 grade Abranet abrasive paper, using a foam sanding pad for intricate areas.
– If the woodwork is waxy or filthy,
I degrease and de-wax with Liberon Wax Cleaner and steel wool. Krudkutter Original with scourers achieves a quicker and cleaner end result. Leave to dry overnight and then sand as above.
Prime pine – Prime with Classidur Extrem which historically adhered to any surface better than any other primer available to the decorating trade.
A similar proven high adhesion water-based primer is Tikkurila Akva. It has a lot of body too.
Mythic Universal primer is on a par with the above, but because of its consistency, I would specify 2 coats of Mythic primer on new timber versus one of the Blackfriars.
For water based primer, you can use a Fox, Wooster Silver Tip, Proform Picasso, Rembrandt or Corona Knight brush to give yourself the best chance of a nice finish.
Is any staining coming through?
Pine has knots and may exude resin and react with the pigment in the waterbased primer and leave a brown stain. If so, touch in the stains with 2 thin coats of clear shellac or Zinsser Aerosol.
Continue with the next stage of basecoats and undercoats after about an hour.
Undercoat – If using Little Greene oil eggshell topcoats, stick with Little Greene and apply a coat of oil-based Little Greene oil undercoat tinted to the colour of the top coat. It has body and dries as expected.
If using Tikkurila Unica eggsell as a topcoat, use Tikkurila Otex oil based base coat that can be tinted to any colour.
Fill – When the u/c has dried overnight ideally, do any filling of dents over the undercoat; sand smooth. 2-pack filler or Toupret TX110 “polyfilla” are sensible choices that sand well and dry strong.
Eggshell finish – Apply 2 coats of Little Greene Oil Eggshell or Tikkurila Unica, sanding between coats and cleaning with a tack rag. Prior to last coat, sand with 240 or 320 grade for a lovely finish.
Brush tip! If this is a one-off project, just buy one 2″ Fox brush, for the whole job. Clean it out after priming in water-based so it is ready for oil painting.
Finish with the undercoating, then use a scraper and piece of lining paper to get out as much paint as you can. Then work the brush in to the eggshell. By the time you are onto the second coat of eggshell, the brush will be perfect.
When you are not using the brush between coats of oil paint, place it in the Store n Go gel pot. There’s no need to clean the brush out.
If this has been of use, why not keep informed with updates by email. I don’t spam, just send out more tips and ideas that you can use yourself.
Paint pine furniture with Water-based finish
On unpainted timber, a combination of oil based primer, and water-based eggshell will get you very close to a beautiful “oil-based” finish on pine. It is based on what I have picked up from the most knowledgeable residential painter online, US painter, Jack Pauhl.
When starting from bare pine, please bear in mind that a complete water-based system of water-based primer and water-based topcoats has little body and will do little to disguise the grain of the wood. The finish will be tough, it is low odour and nice to apply, but you will see the grain, big time. That may be acceptable.
If you want to reduce the grain, start with 2 coats of a quick-drying oil-based primer like Tikkurila Otex or Zinsser Coverstain. Although rather smelly, is the best start to a more solid water-based finish.
Prepare pine– Preparation is same as above ie If woodwork is fairly clean, wipe it thoroughly with a lint-free rag dampened with Krudkutter Original or white spirit or meths. (Not dripping!) Sand with 120 or 180 grade abranet, using a foam sanding pad for intricate areas.
Or, if the woodwork is waxy or filthy, Krudkutter Original with scourers achieves a quick and clean end result. Leave to dry overnight and then sand as above. (See Annie Sloan chalk paint below if you cannot stand the prospect of too much preparation of waxy pine.)
Knot and prime pine For a belt and braces approach, use Zinsser Aerosol to seal knots and then prime with Zinsser Cover Stain or Otex (oil-based paint) These are superb trade products that dry quickly. On small projects, you can have the surface sealed and primed twice in a day, ready for finishing the next day.
Fill over first coat of primer Now you can see the blemishes, do any filling, and sand smooth. (2 pack fillers or Toupret TX110 are good bet.)
Re-prime Apply second coat of Zinsser Cover Stain or Otex.
Prepare for Acrylic eggshell finish Here is where you will see the difference between Coverstain and Otex.
Coverstain, will sand down easily to a glassy finish with 180 abranet. It creates dust.
Otex only needs a light rub over with 180 abranet. You do not want to make it glassy smooth as this affects the adhesion of the topcoats!
When prepared, apply 2 coats of acrylic eggshell, sanding with 240 or finer Abranet between coats.
If using Farrow and Ball Estate eggshell, which is an oil-water-borne hybrid, the correct approach is to apply one coat of Coverstain or Otex, then a coat of F&B primer-undercoat over the first coat of coverstain or Otex!
If you paint F&B eggshell straight over Coverstain, or any primer other than Farrow and Ball’s, they will not entertain your complaint if there are any issues, such as slow drying, no drying, flaking, to name but 3 potential issues from incompatability.
As you can see, this approach with oil primer plus acrylic topcoats is a bit more thorough than the slap-it-on-quick technique that many people are lead to believe is the advantage of using water-based eggshell. Of course the acrylic topcoats are nice to use!
You need a really good technique to avoid brush marks in acrylic eggshell. I cover this elsewhere on the site under Brushes.
If this has been of use, why not keep informed with updates by email. I don’t spam, just send out more tips and ideas that you can use yourself.
Paint pine furniture with 100% water-based products
100% acrylic water-based primer, brushing filler and water-based eggshell With patience you can achieve very close to a beautiful “oil-based” finish on pine using water-based products only! I developed this system on a 2011 project where absolutely no oil paint was allowed on site, and the finish on the woodwork had to be 5 star.
Apply one coat Classidur Extrem Primer or 1 coat of Tikkurila Akva or 2 coats Mythic Universal primer to seal surface.
Check for any stains from knots etc.
Apply 2 heavy coats of artists Acrylic Gesso, leave 24 hours and sand smooth with 180 grade Abranet.
Apply 1 acrylic primer undercoat, and 2 topcoats of acrylic eggshell – keep to one brand for the basecoat and topcoats
The acrylic gesso is used by artists who prime canvas to create a super smooth substrate before painting. It is water-based and the consistency is like a cross between liquid filler and oil-based undercoat. ie it has body and builds up the surface to give a nice hard base for the rest of the water-based paints. It involves more work than priming with just an oil primer, (2 extra coats, extra sanding, extra time) but where customers with high expectations for quality require zero/low VOC, no/low odour paints, this is the way ahead.
Painting over previously painted furniture
Repainting over old oil paint, I would have no hesitation in recommending waterbased primer and water based topcoat.
The reasoning is that all the hard work for preparing a solid surface has already been done by the old oil paint. As long as the paintwork is solid, you can achieve a really solid and durable finish, slightly more plastic sheeny than oil eggshell, but very acceptable in 95% of cases.
Chalk paint for painting waxy pine furniture with minimal preparation
Try Annie Sloan chalk paint on your pine furniture. This is a very clever product that thrives on wax and grease. Minimal preparation required except on knots, which you need to seal with a couple of coats of
aerosol Zinssser BIN clear shellac primer.
Then apply 2 coats of chalk paint and seal with clear wax or varnish. This is how boy decorators use Annie Sloan Chalk paint.
You can tint the wax, or wipe on / rub off to reveal the backing colours, distress, age, or keep it conventional. See Cait at Carte Blanche for the full inside story and Annie Sloan supplies.
Sometimes furniture is made up of different materials. If the interior of a pine cupboard has an easy wipe finish but you want to paint it, you need to know how! Here is how to paint a laminate finish.
Furniture painter specialists to do the painting for you
If you would rather have a professional furniture painter transform a piece of furniture for you, contact one of these specialist furniture painters in your area. Trustworthy and switched on, they have their own slightly different approach to their work, but fundamentally, we all sing off the same hymn sheet. Correct material choice and thorough workmanship is the way to go.
For ready-reckoner budgeting, think in terms of £150 for a chest of drawers to £250 for a good size wardrobe for a flat paint finish. Most offer decorative paint finishes. If you have a suite of good quality furniture, it usually makes sense on every level to employ a pro, as you would be hard-pushed to replace one piece for the cost of the painting of the suite. If you have a one-off not-so-special piece of furniture, then experience says that it is probably a DIY project.
The ideal surface is new, unpainted timber. However, unpainted second-hand pieces will accumulate dirt and layers of wax etc which can fatally affect the adhesion of most paint. As a rule of thumb, don’t skimp on prep, as all your good work could be for nought. Even though the primers available nowadays are really high performance, I don’t skimp on prep, and regardless of the primers I use, I try go the extra mile to get timber surfaces clean.
As an alternative cleaning agent to white spirit or meths, or Langlow Wood Reviver or Liberon Wax Remover, which are all very high in VOC and noxious fumes, try Krudkutter Original, which is an eco friendly biodegradable cleaner which decorators use to clean really dirty or waxy surfaces quicky. Wipe on with a scourer, leave for a few minutes, and while still damp, scrub down. Wipe with a lint free cloth like a Mirka microfibre. Repeat if necessary.
Once cleaned down, the surface is ready for sanding. The aim of sanding is to provide a key for the paint, so 180 is minimum grade roughness you should use to prepare with. At the other extreme, don’t use coarse 60 grade – you don’t want to create ugly gouges and scratches. That doesn’t add character, that screams poor workmanship! Abranet does it all.
kps – knot, prime stop
If you have knots, (which can continue to exude resin for years afterwards) the text decorating books say to “knot” them ie traditionally you would seal the knots with shellac knotting (brown) or clear styptic knotting.
That works best for sealing knots under chalk paint, but it is a very old hat approach for sealing surfaces prior to applying conventional oil or water-based paints. There are alternatives.
Classidur Extrem, or Mythic Universal Primer or shellac based Zinnser BIN or Mathys Isofix
These are high adhesion water-based primers that prime AND seal knots and stains. If a stain comes through the first coat, leave it 4 hours for the paint to dry and then recoat. If you touch in the stain too quickly, the wet coat will draw the stain through again!
Be aware that if surfaces are in direct sunlight, knots can leak through any sealer. If in doubt, Zinsser BIN is about the last resort and if that fails to seal a knot, there isn’t much left to do except drill out the knot and fill it
Tikkurila Unica varnish is another option being recommended for sealing resinous, knotty surfaces, followed by Tikkurila Otex basecoat.
Zinsser Bullseye or other quick drying primers are user-friendly and have good stain-blocking abilities, just not as good as the 2 above options. However one option that has worked for me is to prepare and paint the whole surface first with a water-based primer. The dark shadow of knots will show through the white primer, and you seal those with a couple of sprays with aerosol Zinsser BIN.
If you are priming over clear factory lacquered pine, don’t sand it down till you break through to the timber. The lacquer coating should have had a stain blocker added to it, so knots should have been sealed in for good. So lightly sand to provide a key.
If you are not confident about the knots being held back, spot spray 2 coats of Zinsser BIN over visible knots.
All the above primers dry within minutes and can be overpainted the same day.
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Looking for an oil-based eggshell finish? Eggshell is self-undercoating so after priming, you have an option – either undercoat once or apply first of 3 topcoats
Next day, sand down well with 220 grade abrasive, clean off with vacuum/tack rag; apply acrylic caulk to joints, let it dry (2 hours is enough) then apply another topcoat of oil eggshell
Leave to dry overnight, sanding between coats with 320 grade abrasive, cleaning with vacuum and tack rag, repeat. Done.
I am a big fan of tinting the undercoat as close to the top coat colour as possible. Buy the undercoat and topcoat in same brand. (Mark at Broken Cross Decorators Merchants in Macclesfield or Holmans in Swindon, or other merchants heavily invested in tinting machines should be able to tint primers and undercoats to match whatever you need for topcoats.
Beware painting furniture in white oil paint
The 2010 VOC regulations threw most of the UK paint industry into a tizz and they are still having real trouble formulating white eggshell and gloss. White oil paint always yellowed but gradually. There is lots of evidence that white oil paint is prematurely yellowing. Drying times have also extended.
To be safe, go for acrylic paints if you want a bright white finish.
I hope that has helped.
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