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Refinishing A Painted Armoire & Dresser



Do you have painted furniture you are thinking of refinishing,  but not sure where to start?  If so, you should enjoy this episode. We'll strip and refinish this painted Armoire in a really nice glazed and distressed French walnut finish.  This is no small job to tackle, but if your up to it you will find this episode invaluable!


To begin, we need to strip off the paint. Sometimes this can be a real chore...sometimes it's not so bad.  We got lucky on this job, and the paint stripped off fairly easy. We did all the stripping by hand. You can find more detailed information on stripping throughout the site, but here is a slideshow showing you the stripping process.


Armoire Refinishing Slideshow.....Part 1 : Stripping  



Now, before we get into the finishing, let's first go over what we are looking to achieve.  Here is a picture of the final results, so in this episode I will teach you how we create this finish.


We've already skimmed over the stripping process in the slideshow, and our Armoire is ready for sanding. Since it stripped pretty clean, I am not going to do a lot of sanding.  I'll hand scuff all the surfaces with 120, and use the orbital sander on the top and all the flat surfaces. We will shave many hours of  time off this job by following the steps outlined below.


After sanding, we are ready to apply a base stain. Below, I am applying a medium walnut oil base stain.



Below: After applying stain to the entire surface, wipe it clean going with the grain. Allow the stain to dry thoroughly. Repeat over the entire piece, one section at a time, until all surfaces are stained.



Below, you will notice that there is still white paint in the crevices on this drawer. I don't worry about that, because it will be covered and we will show you how in the video below. You would spend forever trying to remove all the paint from the cracks and crevices. I make sure all the flat surfaces are void of all traces of paint, but it's OK if there is a little in the corners like below. More on that to come....




 In This Video, Rod speaks in depth about glazing previously painted furniture such as this armoire & dresser. He'll show you how to deal with the paint that was left in the crevices and pores. This is an important process to understand.  and it will save you countless hours in prep.  Not only will it save you time, you will be able to achieve final results that will look like the Armoire pictured below. 




Below, one coat of burnt umber glaze has been applied and you can see the finish already taking shape.  This has helped us mask some of the paint residue that we were unable to remove through the stripping and sanding process.




Continue the glazing (working in small sections) until the entire piece is glazed. More detailed information on glazes & how to use them are or will be available in our resource section and within other feature episodes. Be sure to allow the glaze to dry according to the manufactures recommendations before sealing it in. In this case, we are using water based glaze and finishing with Pre Cat Lacquer. I will allow the glaze to dry 24 hrs before sealing it in with lacquer sealer (Below)



My next step (pictured below) will be to add some distressing.  Here, I am adding what we call "cow tails" using my Burnt Umber glaze and an artist brush.




After adding my distressing and allowing it to dry, I am ready to add my next layer of color. I'll do this by making a shading lacquer (toner) and using this to shade all the edges and carvings darker. This will be another aid in hiding some of that paint we were unable to remove, as well as creating highlights and depth.


Below, you get an idea of the color and clarity of my tinted lacquer. If you don't have the product and ability to mix and apply your own tinted lacquer, you can achieve similar results by using Mohawk tined aerosol lacquers. There is a good article in the resource section devoted to this subject.




Below: Using  a spray gun with the fluid adjustment cranked in on the spray gun to better control the rate of application, start slowly spraying the tinted lacquer on the areas you want to shade. I always adjust my fan pattern on my spray gun also when shading. I want to spray my tint in a tighter spray pattern as opposed to the wider spray pattern you would typically use. You can find more on spraying lacquer finishes in the resource section.




You may need to repeat this step twice, depending on the effect you are looking to achieve.  When you are happy with the shading effect, apply a finish coat and allow this to dry. Below, you can see the final finish. A far cry from where we started, wouldn't you say?




The final step on this armoire is the interior. I did not strip it, as that would have been a huge messy job and the results would have been sub par. I decided to tape it off and cover the interior with paper.  Now that I am done finishing the exterior, I will remove the paper and paint the interior with a matching custom brown paint (below). This saved me about one full day of labor, maybe more. It also gave me a very clean looking interior. 




I hope you enjoyed this tutorial...and learned a few tricks along the way!



Happy Finishing




Your Hosts,

Rod & Jen Keyser

Owners of The Restoration Studio LLC


“Our goal at The Furniture Refinishing Studio Learning Center is to help empower you to step beyond the realm of ordinary, and assist you so that your furniture restoration projects become extraordinary. We are passionate about furniture,and we understand the importance it plays in everyday life.”

Rod & Jen Keyser The Restoration Studio LLC