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Sanding, Priming & Prep Work – Part 1

          Without sanding, priming & prep work, chances are the finished product isn’t going to be very good…no matter how much paint you layer on.  Case in point:  This antique dresser that was purchased on Craigslist for $35.  Why was it so cheap?  Because it was a mess.  Someone else had already tried to paint it, and I inherited their shoddy work.  But a lot can be learned from it, so I’m going to use it to show you why sanding, priming and prep work are so important.


I loved the shape of the dresser, but it needed LOTS of work. (Unfortunately, I never took a decent “Before” picture other than this one on it’s side.)


Not only were the legs seriously rotted, they were painted only on 3 sides. I guess they figured nobody would notice. WRONG!!!

          When I first saw this dresser, I absolutely loved it.  I loved the shape, the legs, even the color.  But, my goodness, what a DISASTER it was!  The bottom of the legs were rotted, it didn’t sit level, it was missing drawer handles, and it was painted HORRIBLY.  Just notice the back of the dresser and the legs.  They didn’t even bother to paint the back of them because they probably figured nobody would notice.  Well, I NOTICED!  I always do.  These are the things that drive me crazy!



Sloppy painting is my pet peeve.

          First things first.  If you’re going to go through the trouble of painting an old piece of furniture, make sure it’s worth it.  Ask yourself, Is it a sturdy piece of furniture? If it rocks back & forth, is that something I can fix? In this case, I knew the rotted portion of the legs had to be cut off, but we could build it back up with a new piece of wood.  Ultimately, this piece of furniture was well worth the investment.


The rotted portion of the legs was cut off and replaced with new, 2×2″ wood.

          Once structural issues are addressed, you can take on more aesthetic problems.  Look for nicks, gaps and gouges that you can fill in with wood putty.


          Now, you’re ready for sanding, and this is the perfect example of why you should sand in the first place.  Paint should never peel off, yet look how easily this one does.  The paint had nothing to hold on to. When you sand it, you rough up the surface a bit, and suddenly the paint has something to adhere to.  So, again, Lesson #1 is Always Sand.  You don’t have to get carried away.  A little sanding goes a long way and prevents messes like this in the future.


This is what happens when you don’t sand before painting.


I was peeling and sanding at the same time.


Then I sanded over the parts I filled with wood putty to make the surface nice and smooth.

With the new legs added, and other loose parts tightened and glued more firmly together, this dresser now sits level.

With the new legs added, and other loose parts tightened and glued more firmly together, this dresser now sits level and is ready for painting.

          I actually take things a step further and prime before I paint.  This isn’t always necessary, especially since you can now buy paint with primer already in it, but I do find it looks better in the end.  I’ll pick up where we’re leaving off in Part 2 of this Blog.  Stay tuned to see how this piece turns out.

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Painting children's rooms, exterior murals, exterior paint, faux finishes, interior murals, canvases, holiday canvases, wooden plaques, beds, cabinets, dressers, furniture, party decorations, props, and other DIY crafts!