It was the best of paints, it was the worst of paints, it was a time of trial, a lesson learned, it was the hottest of days, it was a latex paint, it was aggravating, it was maddening, it was melting, it was the summer of change…
Learning the ropes of furniture refinishing has been a lot of research, trial, and error. I want to share with you two projects completed in the same week with slightly different methods, materials, and outcomes. We picked up both the desks at our yard sale haul of the year. Both older solid wood models, towers of drawers on the sides with a chair space in the center.
Finishing them timed out perfectly for us to take them to a one day flea sale for a friend to stage her quilts.
It was the first of June. It was hot. The sale was outdoors. We were in full sun.
The Tale of Desk 1: (pictured above on right)
Desk one was my husband’s $15.00 find. We cleaned it up and stripped and stained the top. The base was painted in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old White and sealed with wipe on poly. She traveled well and while she didn’t sell at the sale she came home exactly how she went.
The Tale of Desk 2:
Desk two was my find. She rung in at $35.00 and we loved the raw wood. Same as before we cleaned the desk up and started to paint the desk shell. The shell was painted in an olive colored latex paint. Since the wood appeared to be raw and dry we did not sand. The desk looked wonderful. The rich olive and wood tones similar to our olive buffet seen here and here. We should have been tipped off by what seemed like an extra long dry time. The finish seemed to stay tacky to the touch for several days which has not been a normal experience for us. Here’s how the desk looked before we packed it up for the sale.
On the trip to the sale some of the paint came off where the desk was secured with straps. Again we should have been tipped off but instead I simply thought “oh well, it chipped, grab the sandpaper and we’ll distress it a bit.” So that’s what I did. I grabbed some sandpaper we had in the car and distressed the desk a bit all around the edges like that was my original plan all along. Around lunch time while the heat was bearing down my husband said “what’s up with the back of that desk”. Upon further inspection it appeared that the paint was bubbling. Seriously!?! So glad the desk did not sell. As we brought it home, the paint, which essentially seemed to melt in the sun, stuck to the moving blanket and ripped off the top of the desk.
Even now after it should be fully cured you can use a putty knife to scrape up the paint like you’re scraping a bar of chocolate.
Now we’re left pondering what went wrong.
Was there some sort of oil rubbed into the wood that kept the paint from adhering and/or hardening?
Would it have made a difference if we sanded the piece before painting?
I thought wipe on poly was cool over latex paint. Was I wrong? We’ve used it before with no problems.
Is heat from the sun indeed enough to melt latex paint right off a piece of furniture?
If I had added a bonding agent to the paint (baking soda, Plaster of Paris, Webster’s Chalk Paint Powder, calcium carbonate) would it have made a difference in this case?
Needless to say we’ve made the decision to forgo latex paint for the time being.
If you have any tips or thoughts on using latex paint for furniture we’d love to hear them! No one wants to see their hard work and supplies melt away. So let’s help each other out!!