Furniture upcycling tutorial by @house_on_the_way

Sustainability is incredibly important and an increasing number of people feel a responsibility to become more efficient and less wasteful. This includes reusing furniture upcycling where possible instead of buying new. It’s cost-effective, as well as good for the environment, but it can be daunting to a DIY novice not knowing where to start.

This guide will take you through an easy 5 step process on upcycling your furniture.

FURNITURE UPCYCLING: TOOLS YOU’LL NEED 

For your furniture upcycling project, you’ll need the following items:

Before
Before

STEP 1: SAND IT OUT

Remove any furniture hardware and scuff up the surface of the furniture piece with a medium grit sandpaper (~100 grit). You don’t need to sand the entire top layer off, you just need to key it/take any sheen off in order to ensure paint adherence. 

Once complete, use a wet cloth to wipe off and remove excess dust.

Sand your piece of furniture
Sand your piece of furniture

STEP 2: PRIME TIME

Prepare to upcycle with some primer

Priming is critical to ensure longevity in your paint job. Use a good quality primer with strong adhesion (I recommend Zinsser 123) and don’t skip this step if you want long term durability (even for paints that say no primer required). The primer will stick to the surface of the furniture piece and act as a base for the paint. Use a roller to apply a layer to the surface and brushes for any hard to reach areas. This doesn’t need to be perfect and a thin patchy layer is just fine. Leave to dry.

STEP 3: LET’S PAINT

Paint over your primer base once the primer is dry and ready for recoat. You will probably need 2-3 coats of paint to get a full even coverage. Ensure you leave adequate drying time between coats as per manufacturer instructions. Do not be tempted to recoat when dry to touch, as this is often much shorter than the recoat time and will lead to a less than perfect finish.

STEP 4: WAX OR VARNISH/TOP COAT

Varnish your upcycled furniture

This step will really depend on the paint you use and how much extra protection it needs in order to prevent chipping. You may find a top coat or wax suitable. 

As chalk paint was used for this dressing table, a soft cloth was used to apply wax to seal the paint.

STEP 5: FURNITURE UPCYCLING FINISHING TOUCHES

Upcycling furniture: finishing touches

Replace any hardware, knobs, handles etc using a screwdriver to secure into place. If you are changing hardware and need to move holes as a result, fill any existing holes before the sanding step, then drill new ones in the required position before fixing in place.

Add your finishing touches and enjoy your newly upcycled piece of furniture!

I am Sushma Samonini, of @house_on_the_way. I live with my husband Shaun and 3 year old son, Avery and together we have been renovating our 1930’s semi-detached house in Buckhurst Hill for the last two years. We are fairly new to DIY, but love learning new skills and are quickly gaining the confidence to try new tasks and do more for ourselves, even pregnancy isn’t holding me back!

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