Or, How Glaze Saved Me from Having a Complete Meltdown.
My family and I recently moved from a small town house to a much larger home. The move brought many welcome changes, the first and foremost being the space we now have. Huzzah! This new house includes a small nook in the kitchen. The nook is too small to fit our regular dining table, but I knew in my heart that we needed a table there. I wanted a place for the kids to snack or where I could sit to down a quick breakfast without needing to eat in the formal dining room. The problem? The table needed to be really small. I was hoping for a round one, too. And apparently really small round tables are hard to come by, and even harder to come by inexpensively. I scoured Craigslist and thrift stores in search of the perfect-fitting table and I finally found this little beauty:
Oh yeah. I bet you’re green with envy, right? The top is laminate and the base is plastic. I told ya’, I’m a class-act here.
Nevertheless, I saw potential in this little table. The main attraction was the size: 29″ in diameter. Perfect! The next most attractive quality? The price tag: $20. It was definitely the cheapest table I’d found anywhere. I snatched it up immediately.
Here she is from another angle.
I know I’m late with the furniture makeover craze. A few years ago my sister-in-law introduced me to furniture makeovers and with her help I even made over an antique vanity I had inherited from my great-grandmother. But the size of my old house and its lack of a yard made such furniture makeovers next to impossible and I abandoned the idea. Until I moved. Suddenly, a whole new world was open to me. And so I decided to take on the challenge of fixing up this table. And let me tell you, it was a challenge.
I did lots and lots of research before starting. My biggest concern was painting the laminate. There seemed to be two camps of opinion regarding this: those who thought that it was better to sand the laminate before painting, and those who thought that priming really well was better and that no sanding was necessary.
I went with the sanding camp. The reasoning was that sanding makes the primer and paint adhere to the surface better. And as I knew this table would be getting heavy use, I really needed that paint to stick.
And this is where I failed. I failed to take pictures because I was in a rush to get a lot done in as short a time as possible! Sometimes a mommy on the loose knows her time is going to be limited, so there’s no time for pictures. I hope to give a more thorough tutorial when I show you what I’ve been up to with the chairs to go with it. But here’s a basic breakdown of what I did:
- I sanded the table top. Here’s the deal with the sanding–you can’t really sand laminate. It is basically just plastic, after all. But I used an electric sander to rough it up and take the sheen off.
- I primed it with Kilz Odorless spray primer.
- I painted the top with Krylon spray paint in Burgundy (glossy) and the bottom with Krylon Fusion in Burgundy (glossy).
- I glazed it with Rustoleum Transformations Decorative Glaze in Java Brown.
I got through all of those steps and then ran into my first batch of problems. The table top looked splotchy. Not splotchy like it was painted or glazed unevenly, but splotchy in that some parts looked glossy and some parts looked dull. I’m not sure what happened exactly but my theory is this: the sanding that I had done on the top wasn’t completely even. I think I sanded down some parts more than others, some spots were rougher, some were slightly smoother, and so on. The other problem was the glossy spray paint I’d used. I got glossy because that was all they had in the store.
I wasn’t sure how to proceed, but I decided I wanted to try re-painting it with a satin finish instead of glossy. Using a fine, 220-grade sandpaper, I sanded it down so the glaze and several layers of paint were off. I realized as soon as I did it that this was a good thing and that I probably should have sanded earlier. I got the table top nice and smooth and even. The next thing I did was buff the table. I made sure I got all the dust off it and buffed it really well with a dry cloth. Things were starting to look really good. So at that point I found the paint color in satin and re-painted it. Once it was dry, I could see that it looked much better. I re-glazed it and left it overnight.
The next morning it looked beautiful. I was so proud! I decided it I’d give it a final coat of Polycrylic to help protect it. I happily got out my spray bottle of Polycrylic and sprayed my first coat on. And then, things went awry. The bottle stated that three coats were recommended and that I should sand between coats. I was tentative about this, afraid that it would scratch my beautiful paint job. But I went ahead with it, using the 220-grade sandpaper (as recommended on the bottle). And what do you think happened? Yup, my beautiful paint job got all scratched up. Big time. No matter how gentle I tried to be, my table just looked scratched. I tried dusting it off and re-buffing it and then I sprayed it with another layer of Polycrylic. It helped it look a little less scratched, but the scratches were still apparent.
And then, I admit it, I lost my mind completely. I can be an unreasonable hothead when I’m upset and this was one of those times. (Have you seen How I Met Your Mother? There’s the episode where Marshall and Lily get married and Marshall ends up shaving the top of his head in frustration. That part always makes me laugh out loud, and, well, that was me in this case). Before the second coat of Polycrylic was dry, I decided to try buffing it again. HUGE mistake. This time it made a huge smudgy mess out of things. And that just made me more upset which caused me to try to buff harder which of course made things worse. And now my table looked smudgy AND scratched. It was a total disaster.
This was the point I called my husband in tears. He gently and lovingly talked me down. I talked about needing to start the whole process over again from scratch (sanding it down again and re-painting and re-glazing) and assured me that all would be well and that I wasn’t a loser (can you tell I don’t handle failure well?)
I took a break from the to take care of mommy duties. By the time I got back to the table, I was feeling more level-headed. I looked at it and looked it over again. And, suddenly, it didn’t seem completely terrible. It was dry now and although I could still see the problems with it, I wondered if I couldn’t fix it by glazing it some more. I figured it was worth a try. So I glazed it. And glazed it again. And again. And again. Basically, I glazed the crap out of that thing. And, finally, I was happy with it again. By this time it looked less red and more brownish. But guess what? I liked it! It was a small miracle. And I was so thrilled that I didn’t have start over again.
Here’s a picture of the finished project:
No, this is not my little kitchen nook. It is my garage. That is where the table is and that’s where it will stay until I feel comfortable that the paint has cured for long enough. I read somewhere that a month is recommended. I’m not sure I can wait that long!
What I learned:
Where to begin? First of all, I learned to try and avoid completely freaking out when things seem to be going haywire. Secondly, I did like how it turned out after I sanded it down after I’d already painted it once. It really made the table nice and smooth. Along with this, I learned that I really like buffing between paint coats. It helped make it smooth and shiny. BUT, the paint (or whatever coating you’ve most recently applied) has to be really, completely dry! Don’t jump the gun and buff something that isn’t totally dry because otherwise you’ll end up on the phone in tears. Like me. I also learned that I need to learn more about Polycrylic. I will definitely need to do some more research and experimentation with it. I’ll keep you updated.
And last but not least, I learned that things don’t always have to turn out the way you expected. They can still be great even when things don’t go as anticipated. Here’s a little secret that I didn’t mention earlier and that you can’t see in the pictures: the particle board on the side of the table top is exposed. When I bought the table, the laminate on the side was coming off and pieces of it were already gone. I decided it would be best to just rip it off completely. I sanded and sanded the particle board but I could never get it really smooth. At first after I painted it, it drove me crazy. It was about all I could look at. But I sanded it some more, re-painted it and glazed it repeatedly. You can still see it. But it doesn’t drive me as crazy as it used to.
It was a $20 laminate and plastic table and I think it looks pretty great.
I know a picture in my garage isn’t the most attractive. I’ll definitely post an update once the table is all set up in my house along with more information about the chairs. Stay tuned!