When life begins to lack its luster, which typically occurs in month nine of winter, I find myself searching for something, in fact, anything to do other than watch even one more snowflake fall.
One of my favorite creative projects is going on a treasure hunt to garage sales, second-hand shops, and my personal favorite, digging around in mom’s basement. When I set out on my mission of mystery, I only have one goal. I am in search of a masterpiece disguised as a piece of junk. I comb through the rubble collecting dust and imagine it as a piece of art. It can be an old coffee table, coat rack, broken jewelry case, light stand or even several candle holders I think will make a perfect water feature glued together just right and adorned with something I haven’t figured out yet. Remember, foraging is fun. All you need is an imagination and a zip-lock baggie full of quarters!
Sooner or later when I least expect it, I find that one long forgotten perfect gem in the middle of the clutter waiting there, just for me. That magic ‘something’, ever so sadly discarded having served its current usefulness; like an old Circuit City flyer. The trick is in having no preconceived plan; also like Circuit City.
Then I go about the challenge of bringing it back to life where it will become; I’m always convinced, ‘The Feature Piece of a Room.’ Then when people ‘Oooh’ and ‘Awe,’ I can say nonchalantly, “I bought that at a garage sale for two dollars.”, Secretly pleased with myself. Or my mom will say, “Oh My Cynthia, that is simply amazing! Where did you come up with that?”, and I can say, “I found it in your basement behind the old rock climbing equipment nobody ever used.” Still delighted and beaming.
Admittedly, at times I choose items that are so dated and worn that even the lady putting on the garage sale has the unmistakable look of guilt and shame as she takes my money. On one occasion, I returned days later and presented her my masterpiece. The lady’s look of guilt and shame was replaced immediately with sheer delight; with a side of regret which I assumed was for only charging me two dollars.
Over the years I have discovered through trial and error the best products for the job at hand. Today I am going to talk about which primers I use for among other things, hand-painted furniture. I primarily use two different primers depending on the project. My overall number one pick is KILLZ 2 MULTI-SURFACE STAINBLOCKER indoor/outdoor water-based primer. It also comes in an oil-based version.
These days there are many choices, but I’m partial to the KILLZ 2 because I already know it works on everything including wood, metal, and glass. It seals in rust, covers painted surfaces, drys in thirty minutes and has little to no odor. As a bonus, it comes in a spray paint, which is ideal for hard-to-paint shapes, but the coverage isn’t as good, and frankly, I suck at spray painting. I’m also a big fan of the less expensive KILLZ Original version if I’m working on wood or any easy to cover surface.
The other, ZISSER B.I.N PRIMER, is a miracle in a tin gallon container. It’s more expensive than KILLZ 2, so I use it exclusively for impossible surfaces such as covering the dreaded oil-based paint, or even more vexing, laminate furniture; i.e., the divorce maker, marriage breaker, relationship buster, ‘put ’em together yourself’ Ikea furniture in a box.
Believe it or not, primer and a protective finish top-coat to seal the surface of your piece of majestic magnificence are the most critical products required to produce a finished piece of quality with endurance. It’s worth noting they will likely cost you more than your paint and used furniture combined. Having said that, if you are going to invest the time and talent hand-painting something, it’s an amateur mistake to skimp on these two products. You may as well use erasable markers. I mean, you don’t want the paint to bead-up or peel the first time someone sneezes in its direction, do you? So you can see why this decision deserves your utmost attention.
I like to prime everything be it metal, wood or glass. I believe it’s much easier to paint onto and leaves a smoother surface. If it’s a wood surface, I still lightly sand first, to rough it up and create some ‘grit,’ so the primer really sticks. Just to be safe, if it’s already painted I use a little more elbow grease and remove most of the paint. Although using a power operated hand sander is ideal, you can just wrap a piece of sandpaper around a brick and sand by hand. What you are going for is a rough surface for which to apply the primer.
Before I go any further, I am blowing the lid off a well-kept secret to the novice painter. I mean, trying to figure out what ‘based’ paint or primer you need can make your head spin around on its axis until it twists right off your body and bounces down aisle 27 of Home Depot until it lands in an overpriced paint bucket. Are you ready? The terms Water-Based, Acrylic, and Latex are the same things. You heard it here!
I could go into why there is such a drastic price difference in paint such as the more acrylic resins in a paint, the better the coverage, which is why it costs more blah blah blah. Instead, I will tell you the only thing you need to know about the price of paint. Everyone that’s ever painted an entire house learned THIS the hard way, I guarantee it. You will one day find yourself standing in a plethora of paint cans that all look the same, but one is $10.00 a gallon, and another one $46.00. You will find yourself thinking, “Well it’s only the staircase to my mother-in-law’s bedroom, I’ll just get the cheap stuff.” It will be on coat number three that you will be hating yourself and everything you stand for. This is the one time that price matters; as does size, by the way. Yes, it’s essential to measure the room first.
Here’s the deal, you can paint over latex paint using either latex or oil-based paint. However, you cannot paint over oil-based paint with latex paint. When it comes to primer, it doesn’t matter if the primer is oil-based or latex, either paint works. Yes, that includes latex. Are you still with me? In short, you can use oil-based paint on anything except your spouse. Unless of course, you’re having a bad day. In that event give it a try and let me know how it turns out. Did it do the trick or is he still over your shoulder giving you advice you didn’t ask for and don’t need? Having said that, this might be a good time to point out, you can’t fix everything with a coat of paint.
Latex paint, on the other hand, will work over either primer, but will not work over oil-based paint. It will bead up like sweat on a lumberjacks forehead. I use latex paint, so I generally use a latex primer; I prefer it, and I live life by the KISS rule. Keep it simple stupid.
The oil-based primers have superior adhesion, and stain-blocking but take longer to dry, clean up requires turpentine or paint thinner and man-all-mighty do they have a nasty odor. Trust me; if it’s forty below zero and you’re forced to paint in the basement, guaranteed somebody will be yelling disparaging remarks down the staircase at you before you finish stirring it.
If you are working with a painted piece, but not sure which type of paint you’re dealing with, here’s a little trick. Soak a Q-tip or cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and swipe it across the painted surface a couple of times. If some paint color comes off, its latex; so you can use latex paint or primer. If no paint color comes off, it’s oil-based; so you must use oil-based paint or primer. VOILA!
Unlike painting walls, which do require top quality paint, when hand painting I use the inexpensive acrylic paint. You know the little 2oz containers that come in hundreds of colors and cost about fifty to seventy-five cents with names like Princess Purple, Honeysuckle Pink, and Ripe Tomato. I never know ahead of time what design or color I will be using. That entirely depends on my whimsy. The great thing is, they’re so cheap I can buy armloads of colors, and it still costs less than one Mango Martini at the Cosmopolitan Chandelier Bar. Having said that, if you’re ever in Las Vegas, you absolutely MUST have a Mango Martini at the Cosmopolitan Chandelier Bar.
I can get by with such cheap paint because unlike a wall; I will be applying three coats of polyurethane topcoat which will preserve it hard as a rock for several hundred years. (Note: I will save topcoats for an exciting upcoming addition.)
I hope this saves you some time standing in aisle 27 with an icepick-in-the-eye headache googling “What’s primer and why do I need it?” Instead, grab your primer, a piece of sandpaper and skip back to the craft paint aisle with a big cart. Next thing you know you’ll be off to create your pièce de résistance!
Word of Caution: If you ever invite me over to your house, lock the basement door and nail the attic shut. I won’t go into the most brutal winter in the history of mankind when I painted everything in my mom’s basement that wasn’t locked down.
Note: The opinions stated above are mine alone. I was neither sponsored nor paid for the product recommendations.