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aerolulu 09-04-2013 11:14 AM

How to finish the paint on a coffee table?

This is my first post on this forum. I'm a complete novice in everything related to manual work... :$

I recently decided to build a coffee table.

I've used a 3/4" plywood which I cut. I then used a trim router to round the edges and sanded it (all this in consultation with staff at home depot...).

My idea was to paint the whole table in a single color. They recommended that I use the following paint: Berh, oil-base semi gloss with enamel (medium base). They told me that the primer was included and that 2 coats would be fine for my project.

I've now done 2 coats with a semi-smooth to semi-rough roller and I'm disappointed that the paint did not turn out smoother. I would like the final product to be very smooth (almost perfect smooth). I was wondering if I did something wrong or whether I should just sand it with a very dense sand paper at this point. Or maybe apply a transparent coating on it?

Any advice would be welcome. Thank you!!

RoyalAcresRod 09-04-2013 11:27 AM

You are rarely going to get a smooth surface with a roller. Use a good quality paintbrush, such as a Purdy. Or roll it on first, then back brush it with your paint brush.

I've heard one can get a fairly smooth finish with a foam roller, but I haven't any experience with them. Someone may come along here and chime in.

You can sand what you've already painted ... I'd probably use about a 175 grit, maybe 200 ... Before brushing on your next coat.

Next time, though, go to a real paint store such as Sherwin-Williams or Benjamin Moore. Higher quality of paint ... although Behr is getting better than they used to be.

The real problem at the box stores is getting experienced advice. Many of us in here have cringed listening in on conversations with employees who have no idea what they're talking about.

One minute they're in Paint, the next in Plumbing. Many times the employees are minimum wage with no real-world experience in the subject they're advising.

I've heard some dangerous advice. But I least no one's probably going to get hurt with wrong painting advice.

aerolulu 09-04-2013 11:42 AM

Lol. True about no getting hurt here. I had no idea a brush would give me better results than a roller (table is about 30x40"). I figured the roller would cover more surface and get the smoother results. I did do the sides with a brush but it's not amazing either... The other thing is that I've never really painted much before so for me to notice the difference in quality between to paint types is kind of tough...

aerolulu 09-04-2013 11:43 AM

When you say sand it before next coat... does that mean that I'm not supposed to sand the final coat at all? I thought that this is how I would get the smoothness eventually? Might be completely wrong here though...

RoyalAcresRod 09-04-2013 11:56 AM

There are circumstances where sanding the final coat is something you need to do : like when one is painting a car with certain types of paint.

But this is not such a situation. There are high-quality paints that have flow levelers that make brush strokes disappear almost entirely.

It's not too late to go to a real paint store and get the good stuff. You've done all the hard work building your masterpiece. Top it off with high quality paint.

Talk to them at the paint store and they'll steer you to the right stuff. Is it expensive stuff? Yes. But you don't need a gallon for your table.

aerolulu 09-04-2013 12:02 PM

I'll check out Sherwin Williams tonight. They might be able to steer me out in the right direction. Thank you!!!

Jmayspaint 09-04-2013 12:30 PM

You don't want to sand the final coat because it will scratch the finish.
But, after you are done and the paint is good and cured (1-2wks) you can polish it with a piece of cardboard or a paper bag. This won't hide andy stipple/brush strokes you may have but it will make it very smooth to the touch.
That's an old painters trick to smooth up a finish coat.

RoyalAcresRod 09-04-2013 12:41 PM

Thanks, jmays. I'll have to try that sometime!

joecaption 09-04-2013 04:29 PM

#1 The last place you want to be taking advice is from a box store!!!
Plywood with a routed edge will always end up with a rough edge and take the paint differently.
A foam roller and a splash of Flotrol would have given you a sprayed looking super smooth finish. No way is a brushed finish smoother.
How about a picture?

jeffnc 09-04-2013 07:13 PM

I don't like the idea of routing plywood at all. I also don't like the idea of finishing a coffee table with a nap roller cover at all.

ToolSeeker 09-04-2013 07:27 PM

Plywood is great for projects like this but usually they install a edge of real wood to hide the plywood edge this is because of the way plywood is made the edges do not finish well. Oh well that's for next time. If you can find a 1/4" nap roller it will help. I am going to use pro classic because that is what I would use. Roll out the top using the 1/4" roller then take a soft Purdy or Wooster brush and very lightly with just the tips of the brush drag it from one end to the other, do not stop. After doing this you will see slight brush marks. Leave them alone this paint has levelers in it. When it dries the marks will be gone.

jeffnc 09-04-2013 10:53 PM

OK let me rephrase. I don't mind plywood as long as you veneer the edges, or attach a solid wood routed trim edge. I don't mind rollers as long as you finish it with a brush.

ddawg16 09-05-2013 12:07 AM

As the others have suggested....sand it....

But I would use a foam brush for the final coat.

And....another suggestion....get a piece of glass cut to match the top....and put that on it....

Another trick I have seen....if you like the glass idea....paint the backside of the glass and then put that on the table....then it looks perfectly smooth.

aerolulu 09-06-2013 01:33 PM

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This is a lot of great advice. I haven't had time to touch it since last time I posted... So I'll try to take as many of these tips into considerations.

I'll be careful where I get my advice from in the future. However, what is done, is done.

I've attached a pic of the piece I cut and I'm sure that will help understand why I did what I did (at least some of it). The router worked ok on the plywood I think. Looked consistent and smooth. I had to finish the edges in the sharp corners by hand, but it looks great overall.

So far, I've painted the back and the edge (2 coats with 24h dry time in between as recommended on paint box).

I've purchased a high density foam roller (rather than the semi-smooth to semi rough that was originally recommend). I have two problems as it is:
1. back surface is far from perfectly smooth (although I love the glass idea, you'll see that it's complicated here).
2. the 2 coats are not enough on the edge as we can still see the different layers of plywood (some much absorb paint more than others as I had sanded it beforehand. texture must be a little different too.)

I'm thinking of doing the following:
1. sand the back surface and apply a 3rd coat with the foam roller (finish it with cardboard or paper bag as needed)
2. sand it and apply a 3rd coat with the brush I have (small 1in brush).

If someone thinks I'm doing it wrong, please let me know and I'll adjust. Thank you!

ddawg16 09-06-2013 01:46 PM

Wow.......yea.....forget the glass idea.....

With something like's just going to take time.

I don't think 24h is enough time between sanding and more coats...I'm thinking you want to wait a couple of days....then sand. Those edges are just going to take a lot of work.

If I was staining something like that...the stain would have needed a week to dry....then it would have been one coat of clear each day.

Can you post pics of what you have painted so far?

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