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Old 05-06-2009, 01:52 PM   #1
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Furniture painting - how to get that professional semi-gloss look?


I've just made a set of shelves for my friend's kid's room & she wants it painted red (we've chosen to go with Porter paint's Advantage 900 semi-gloss latex paint). I'd appreciate advice on how to finish the paint so that it looks and feels good (you know - the professional finish you get when you buy furniture).

I own a Graco Magnum X7 that I've previously used to paint my garage - but this is the first time I've tried it on furniture.

I have so far sprayed on a coat of Kilz acrylic primer & noticed the surface is less than smooth. It's not just that the Kilz raised the grain - it feels like the paint went on 'dappled' (kind of like the feel of an egg, or drywall - and not the smooth finish of well painted wood). So I went over the primer with a 220 grit dry sandpaper. That has helped some - but now the finish is somewhat uneven - a lighter gray where I've sanded & darker where I have not - and I don't want this to repeat when I paint the red. So I'm hesitant to proceed with the finish coats until I get some advice.

What is the best way to proceed?

Do I continue to sand between coats? ( I planned for two coats of the red) If so, should I use steel wool instead of sand paper?

Do I need to put a coat of wax over the paint when finished - or anything like that?

ETA - I'm using the 515 tip - should I go with a finer tip?

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Last edited by DyerWolf; 05-06-2009 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 05-06-2009, 04:30 PM   #2
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Furniture painting - how to get that professional semi-gloss look?


Wrong primer.. wrong paint. And professional coatings for furniture would not be paint, but lacquer. If you insist on paint.. Use an enamel underbody as the primer, sand. Then two coats of oil or enamel semi-gloss. Sand between coats. Latex cannot be sanded since it is too soft.

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Old 05-06-2009, 04:37 PM   #3
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Furniture painting - how to get that professional semi-gloss look?


I so totally did not want to hear that. This is what the paint store recommended.

Anyone else know whether I can save this project?
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Old 05-06-2009, 08:29 PM   #4
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Furniture painting - how to get that professional semi-gloss look?


Okay, here's the problem; I've already started the project, sprayed on the primer & bought the red paint.

So, I feel like I'm committed to finishing - at least making the best showing I can...

You're right - the latex primer doesn't want to sand (it pilled up on me) - but I got it smoothed out.

If I get another sunny day, I plan to spray on the red.

So two questions:
Should I be using a finer grit paper than 220 (i.e. steel wool?);

and

Presuming my final coat of paint looks good - would it be smart to finish it with a coat (or two) of polyurethane?
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Old 05-06-2009, 08:57 PM   #5
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Furniture painting - how to get that professional semi-gloss look?


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Originally Posted by Bob Mariani View Post
Wrong primer.. wrong paint. And professional coatings for furniture would not be paint, but lacquer. If you insist on paint.. Use an enamel underbody as the primer, sand. Then two coats of oil or enamel semi-gloss. Sand between coats. Latex cannot be sanded since it is too soft.
Exactly. I would do everything you can to get that primer off of there. That stuff is really nothing more than drywall primer. That stuff will start peeling off the wood in a few years. The professional furniture finishers will use a lacquer base and many coats of clear on top of that. At the very least get some high gloss lacquer or oil based paint.
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Old 05-07-2009, 02:05 PM   #6
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Furniture painting - how to get that professional semi-gloss look?


Matthew and Bob - thanks for your responses. Okay, so after some research I'm following your advice & sanding the project back down again (I was really disheartened to learn I had a bad plan AFTER I sprayed on a coat of latex primer...) - then borrowing my father-in-law's Turbineaire HVLP system to apply an oil based paint or lacquer.

So, based on this - will you guys give me a good primer on the best way to proceed? What paint or lacquer I should use (I'm not sure I trust my local paint store any more...) and what steps to take?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-07-2009, 02:57 PM   #7
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Furniture painting - how to get that professional semi-gloss look?


If you can find lacquer then use this. Post Catalyzed Nitrocellulose lacquer is the best to use and can be made in any color you want. Check with local cabinet finishers to see if someone can give you what you need. Sand with 220 grit in prep for coatings. Do not use a tack cloth, but clean with the air from you sprayer. Some lacquer are self sealing, others need a sealer. Two sealer coats and two top coats. Scuff sand (this means lightly) between each coat. This helps the new coat have a place to stick.

If using oil: Use an enamel underbody paint. this fills in the wood, seals and is very easy to sand to a perfect finish. Use something like Benjamin Moore's Impero paint for the finish coats. Thin the first coat 10% with mineral spirits. Dust bunnies can be removed in the final coat with a light hand sanding using 1000 grit wet paper.
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Old 05-07-2009, 04:10 PM   #8
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Furniture painting - how to get that professional semi-gloss look?


Since I'm new to spraying - am I less likely to mess up paint rather than lacquer? Or are they both about equal?

I've a pretty deft hand with most things - but noticed I didn't do the best spray job with the primer (although I do have a fairly good idea of where I went wrong...)
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Old 05-07-2009, 05:22 PM   #9
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Furniture painting - how to get that professional semi-gloss look?


Both will have issues if done incorrectly. Read up more on spray methods and problems. Especially the problems, since learning what causes them helps to spray correctly. Paint will be more forgiving but will yield a much less professional job which will not last as long as lacquer. Paint will require days between coats. Lacquer will allow the sealers and top coats all done in the same day with about 30 minutes time between sanding and the next coat. Lacquer's top coats will bond with the other coats and one new coat can "fix" problems with the other coats. Paint will only add more thickness to the film and each coat must be correct. Practice first. Post back your results and I can direct you as to what is wrong.
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Old 05-19-2009, 05:48 PM   #10
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Furniture painting - how to get that professional semi-gloss look?


I can take just about anything to my garage and spray paint it to get a clean smooth coat.

It kind looks like glass.

The trick is the right primer and then a thin coat of paint, then wait a day and hit it again with a thicker coat.

This makes me want to paint something !!!

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Old 06-24-2012, 08:21 PM   #11
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Furniture painting - how to get that professional semi-gloss look?


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Originally Posted by Christy-Spencer View Post
I can take just about anything to my garage and spray paint it to get a clean smooth coat.

It kind looks like glass.

The trick is the right primer and then a thin coat of paint, then wait a day and hit it again with a thicker coat.

This makes me want to paint something !!!

What primer and paint do you recommend to get a smooth coat? Also, do you use a clear coat?
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Old 06-24-2012, 08:35 PM   #12
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Furniture painting - how to get that professional semi-gloss look?


Cindy---that thread is three years old---

If you have future finishing projects---learn about HVLP sprayers--and catalyzed lacquer finishes.

Guitar makers--cabinet makers and others use that for a high gloss--

Also check out automobile finishes--Good luck--Mike---

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