House For Six

Tutorial: A Fresh Coat of Paint for a Wood Bed

Deme Crinion6 Comments
As promised, here is a step-by-step of the painting project we just completed as our son moved on up to a "big boy bed"!   This was my first attempt at painting furniture, so I read several online articles and blog posts about the topic.  I finally just went for it following 4 basic steps.  It was an easy and completely worthwhile venture - Sully loves his new bed and so do I!

So let's get to it!  We started with these great, solid wood bed frames from my husband's childhood:

They had a great shape and I knew they would be perfect for our boy's shared room.  However, they did have a good deal of wear and scratching from the years, so a new finish was definitely in order.   We opted for paint instead of a stain and followed 4 basic steps that can be applied to any similar project (whether it's a bed frame, cabinets, table or wood trim):


In most cases, you'll want to use a medium grit sandpaper (80-120) or fine (150-180) depending on the damage to the piece and the type of finish that was used on it.  I intended to use 150 but 220 is what we had on hand, so I made that work.  Since I really should have used something a little more coarse, it took a bit more elbow grease.
The inside of the foot board was probably the most damaged area, so I took extra time carefully sanding until it felt mostly smooth to the touch.
My goal was not to completely remove the varnish but to smooth out the imperfections and create a good surface for the primer to adhere. 

After sanding down each piece and wiping off the dust, it was time to paint. I debated between using a standard paint with brush or using a spray paint. Since these pieces have several grooves, notches, etc. I settled on a spray paint...and am so glad I did!

I used Valspar's Indigo Blue in a satin finish and their interior white primer.  I could have gone with a darker primer since I was using a dark paint but I planned to use any leftover primer on another project involving white paint. 

When using spray paint, the key to getting a beautiful smooth finish without drips is thin coats. So I began with two thin coats of primer, allowing ample drying time in between (about 1 hour).

Next it was time for the color!  I was so excited to see it go on the boards that I began to lose some of that patience required for multiple thin coats.  My first coat was probably a bit too thick.  I didn't think I had any drips until I realized they had dripped down to the underside of the piece.  They were still minimal and I simply sanded the drips smooth once they were dry.  Then I reigned in my excitement to slowly finish the job. 

Now, if you were using a paintbrush or roller that can lend itself to more streaks and paint lines, then you might want to do a light sanding between coats.  The spray paint gave me a smooth, even finish so the only in-between sanding required was for the few drips.

I did 2 coats of the Indigo but 3 thinner coats probably would have been better.  Despite my rush, we are completely happy with the result!  It looks fresh and new and works perfectly in their room!

The big man sure was excited to try it out!

Now I did mention a 4th step: sealing your piece. For the most scratch-resistant finish, you'll want to finish with a clear coat of protective polyurethane.  These come in many forms and finishes (including a spray) and whatever finish you choose for this step (matte, eggshell, satin, glossy, etc), is truly how your piece will be finished, regardless of the finish you chose for your paint. This step is really important, especially for a piece that will get a lot of surface wear....and I did not do it. 

I forgot to pick up that key supply at the store and was just so excited to get the painted bed in the room that I opted to skip it.  The bed will not get the same kind of wear that a buffet or table would so I'm hoping it won't be too much of an issue down the road.  Only time will tell if skipping that step will be a huge regret later!  I'll keep you posted ;)

So if you been tossing around the idea of painting an old piece of furniture or giving something a face lift to fit your current style, don't be afraid!  Get out there and paint something!  It's totally worth it!  Any little mistakes along the way, and I had plenty, are all just lessons learned for the next project!