David and I try hard to preserve the wood of Mid-Century Modern furniture. I’ve seen him work miracles on damaged surfaces. But what happens when a piece has too much damage or would require too much time to salvage? It might be anathema in some circles, but sometimes a bit of paint does the trick. We base that decision on 2 criteria:

  • Does the piece have a distinguished pedigree, like Heywood-Wakefield or MCM Broyhill?
  • Is it worth the time and effort to bring it back to original glory?

If the answer is No to both questions, we consider painting. Here’s today’s contestant:
Mid-Century Modern ChestIt’s a good, sturdy chest. Faux burl wood on the upper drawer is the most interesting element about this chest. The slanted drawers a close second. You can see wood fill that we’d already begun using.

We’d previously painted another set using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Although I love Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and use it as my go-to paint, the process took forever. We slapped on 4 or 5 coats, using 320 grit sandpaper in between. All of that didn’t matter once David wiped polyurethane on the paint and sanded with a wet/dry 400 grit to keep the poly smooth.That’s what gave the pieces a super shine — and they sold quickly.
Mid-Century Modern Dixie chest and nightstand

I explained to my Ace Hardware man, Mike, that I wanted an easier method. He recommended Valspar primer and high gloss paint, along with smooth-surface rollers. Rollers! It’s been a while since I’ve used latex paint and rollers.

OK. Let’s go Old School on this. For the record, I never paint furniture with latex.
paint supplies

I wanted my color to look like Cream of Mushroom soup, so I opted for Beach Dune. Mike tinted the primer lighter shade.
Valspar Beach Dune
Here’s an example of why we elected to wood-fill and paint this piece: separating veneer. David handled the repairs.
MCM chest damage

Some things, like scrubbing with Simple Green, doesn’t change.
MCM Burl Chest no drawers

I taped the top drawer so I could apply paint to the wood accent strips and not the faux burl.
MCM Burl Chest taped drawer

By the end of the day we had two coats of primer covering the piece. I had some difficulty easing back into latex paint: did it always have such a thick hide? It felt so elastic, and not in a good way.
MCM burl chest primed

I was dissatisfied with the final finish. Our goal was straight forward, to achieve a lacquer finish. This didn’t come close, no mater what my ACE guy had assured me.

It looked bumpy, like I used a roller — which I did. I’m hoping you know what I mean because I didn’t take a photo.

David repainted it using a brush and it looked better. Yet another reason why latex paint is a pain: you can’t sand a spot and paint over it. You must repaint the entire surface.

I vow never to use latex on furniture again. With so many better choices out there — I’m looking at you Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Fusion Mineral Paint — why would I ever need to battle with latex?

David made it handsome enough to put into our booth. It’s a fun piece, especially with the African textile draped over it.

Mid-Century Modern Chest latex paint

MCM Chest latex paint

But this project reminded me of the issues with latex paint. I’m still searching for the perfect enamel or lacquer technique. Any suggestions?

I think I’ll try Amy Howard’s Lacquer next.

Thanks for stopping by.

Ann Marie and David

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4 Comments on Why I Won’t Paint Furniture with Latex Paint

  1. Susie from The Chelsea Project
    August 25, 2016 at 8:17 pm (5 years ago)

    I’m totally with you about the latex paint. I never use plain latex either. Now I do make a chalky-type finish using a mix in the latex paint, but never latex alone. But in spite of all your troubles, your piece turned out lovely. You always do great work and have a real knack for recovering if something goes awry. Kudos!! Thanks for linking to Friday’s Furniture Fix. We LOVE having you share with us. Susie from The Chelsea Project

    • irisabbey
      August 25, 2016 at 9:14 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks, Susie. What kind of chalky-type finish do you prepare? I’m intrigued.

  2. Mary-the boondocks blog
    August 26, 2016 at 10:09 am (5 years ago)

    Anne Marie this turned out great in the end despite the latex mess. I used to use latex and found it so hard to work with. I am so happy I discovered chalky type paint. And it is really hard to come by here in Greece in the boondocks. Now I can’t imagine life without it. It is so easy to use and so forgiving. I use DecoArt instead of the other one. But no matter they are all great in my opinion anything instead of that awful latex.

    • irisabbey
      August 29, 2016 at 4:01 pm (5 years ago)

      I agree, Mary. There so many excellent paint options today — and they’re all better than latex.


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