Saturday, June 29, 2013

adventures in polyurethane: painting my creative studio desks

adventures with polyurethane

having my own space to create is really important to me
not to say that it is cleared off well enough for me to use my own space
somehow there always seems to be some half completed project out
but isn't that what my own space is for

i received these two great shaped desks
i'm sure Amy from Commona-My-House could tell me what sort of style they are in
but i just know that i love them
even in their raw form
great lines

upon moving into our current home, #14 in our 15 years of marriage
i knew that i wanted a large surface for my creative studio {carries a nicer ring to it than craft room}
to lay out fabric and other project needs
i decided to paint both of the desks and then place them back to back to create a beautifully large space

somehow i have lost the first 'before' shot of the desks
but even without drawers you can get the picture

briefly i wanted to go over my first steps that i took to refinish these awesomely aqua desks and then give some tips i discovered when learning to use polyurethane for the first time.

1. TSP: trisodium phosphate - to clean off all the dirt, grease, and residue left from years of storage. helps the primer to adhere to your furniture.

2. Oil-Base Primer - to eliminate the sanding step and to paint on a laminate surface top

3. Paint - 2 coats of paint - stop rubbing your eyes. yes, this is a different desk.  
two desks. same steps.
i also used metal spray paint to lightly spritz my handles and legs to give it an aged metal appearance
psst...i'm sneaking in to tell you that i missed a step, well probably a bunch, but i just wanted to tell you that i taped off the metal lock on the drawer because i wanted to keep that punch of metal

polyurethane finish

4. Polyurethane - to protect the surface from repeated use
sooo glad i did this step.  having been using the desk for awhile, i can see that this step was absolutely necessary to preserve the top from major nicks and dings
oh those sewing and crafting tools are vicious
applying this stuff takes some serious practice
don't hurl yourself into the sea if you don't get it right the first time
{like my little far & away reference - oh they were good together in this one, tom + nicole}

here are some tips i discovered for using polyurethane:
*use the widest sponge brush you can find
you want to have to do as few rows of strokes as possible
*do not shake the can or stir it too vigorously.  gently or you will create bubbles
* i sloooowly poured some into a slightly wider mouth bowl to use as my supply
*get a good amount of poly on your brush to begin with and have your hand in place where you want it to go.  you really get one chance with each stroke.
*to apply the poly, hold the brush at approx 30' to the surface and drag the poly with the brush across the surface in one long steady stroke
*resist trying to go back and restroke through what you missed.  if you must, try and only reapply where needed.  don't go back over your stroke a second time.
*to start the next stroke, begin it just barely back into the end of the previous stroke, so as to cover the streaky end of the past stroke
*there will be bubbles, you can try and pop the larger ones, but it will really just create lots of little bubbles
*don't do this in direct sunlight.  it will dry to fast for you to work with
*avoid doing this when it is even the slightest wind because whatever lands on it will stick.  i have a few encapsulated gnats on my desk
*once you completed the entire surface, let dry as per instructions before starting the next coat
*i recommend 3 coatings
*get some good tunes going because this takes forever but its totally worth it

i also used the spray polyurethane for a light coating around the front, sides, and back

by now you are saying,
oh my word, why in the world would i even go through this much work??!!
if you are planning to use your furniture frequently and want to protect that paint or stain that you took hours to do, its worth it
if you want it to feel smooth and look pretty on top
or if you dusted furniture, this might be make it easy to dust...i wouldn't know but i've hear it from some friends over here and here

here is a visual of the supplies that i used for each step:

for step #3 i also used valspar's brilliant metal spray paint for the handles and legs

i adore how they turned out
they fit quite nicely in the center or the room
right next to my perfectly rusty lockers
now what to do with all that surface
let me tell you it fills quickly

i'd love to hear about your adventures with polyurethane
what did you find worked and didn't work?
what tunes did you jam to while working?


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