Seems anyone who lives within traveling distance of Massachusetts is busy cleaning out their car to make room for every possibility and probability to be found at what hard-core salvage and antique hunters simply call, Brimfield. It's known officially as The Brimfield Antique Show (Sept. 6-11) and next week it will be a nice diversion from the lingering Irene news, and a great opportunity to stock up furniture pieces worthy of painting and repurposing. The deals and steals at Brimfield are plentiful, especially if you know what to look for--here's a short list of sound furniture buying tips to keep in mind.
Chairs Suitable for Painting
Brimfield is sure to be brimming with oddball chair offerings and sometimes even an entire set, table included. Begin your chair negotiations by wiggling the back a bit; if it wobbles at all, know that it will need to be re-glued. Sit on chairs before you buy them and do the wiggle thing again. Turn all your chair choices upside down before you close the deal. Often times, chairs are stuck together with metal brackets, gaffer's tape or copious amounts of construction adhesive to make them appear sound. Reduce your offer on shaky chairs, but buy any you really love. Wobbly or not, I'll tell you how to ready them up for a low-cost paint makeover.
Unpainted Wood Furniture
Experienced scavenger hunters can distinguish a solid oak dresser from a mass-produced utilitarian piece made of MDF from a mile away. Readers of this blog have the added advantage of knowing furniture of any provenance can be successfully transformed with paint. Big ticket mahogany and really good cherry furniture is better left to the refinishers, but that said, oak, maple, birch and all unidentifiable wood species are suitable for painting, irrespective of condition. Run your hand over tabletops, to rule out excessive water damage, especially if the top is a veneer. You can determine if tabletops are a "sandable" solid wood by looking at the underside. Cracked or peeling veneer can be glued, primed and painted. Buy low!
Don’t pass over mass-produced pieces at Brimfield if the size and line suits your style. Here’s a sneak peek at one of the many super-simple paint ideas I’ll be posting during the next few weeks.
Painting over Peeling Paint
I love this look, and even have a name for it: "Pleasing Decay." You can arrest the peeling somewhat with a coat of Benwood® Stays Clear Acrylic Polyurethane, but the results are iffy at best. Peeling paint needs to be removed before it can be re-painted, and that means stripping, otherwise it will continue to peel. In general, it's a safe bet that previously painted wood in this state of distress may pose a lead hazard, so think these purchases over carefully, no matter the price, if you have small children or pets.
during and after
I myself will NOT strip furniture, and I'll pay extra for good pieces when this work is already done. Good furniture strippers are as hard to find as good shoemakers, and nobody does this work cheaply anymore. Know that paint strippers will loosen the joints of mortised furniture, removing old glue right along with the paint. Not to worry--if you find an entirely naked table with it's legs falling off, re-gluing and proper clamps will return the most rickety looking pieces to soundness in less time than it will take you to peruse the Color Gallery for paint color options. Go ahead, put it in the car!
Painting over Metal
Anytime I see rust--even out of the corner of my eye--I'm reminded of an entire summer spent wire brushing my mother's iron railings. UGH! But who can resist repurposing vintage metal furniture? If reinventing utilitarian industrial metal stuff ranks in your top ten list of repainting obsessions, let's hope your car has a big trunk. I'll be adding and documenting the refurbishing of my pair of metal wagons to the September blogging to-do and to-share list, along with a car load of low-cost Brimfield finds. You can keep up with all things Brimfield, including my whereabouts at the show and Benjamin Moore sponsored Brimfield events, on Twitter, at #Brimfield.