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Tuesday, July 25, 2023


I have gotten in the habit of bringing home all different kinds of items to paint.  I don't just shop all the sales at stores.  I make lots of trips to thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets. And I bring the car to a screeching halt to check out promising piles of discards on the curb. I have snagged canvases, frames, lumber, and furniture.  LOTS of furniture.  Upcycling is fun to do, and can turn someone's trash into someone else's treasure while making me a little money. (art for art's sake is nice, but the electric company still expects cash)

Painting on any surface that already has a finish in it can be very tricky though.  While your painting may look nice, if it won't stick to the surface you wind up with a finished piece that cannot handle any kind of use.  Who wants a chair or a table that loses its paint with every casual touch?

I paint mostly in acrylic, so I need a reliable way to cover a previous finish. I have sanded a couple. But sanding a large piece before painting is horribly time consuming.  I want to find a quick and easy alternative.  Sure hope there is one!

I tried using housepaint once.  BIG mistake!  It did not bond to the wood, so the primer plus all my painting peeled off in large, floppy strips.

I ran across a good product from Dixie Belle paint that is called "slick stick". 

This primer coat was developed specifically to allow decorative artists to paint over glossy finished surfaces and adhere the paint.  I was impressed with the results.  Unfortunately it is a little in the pricey side, so I have had to save it for really special projects.

One tip for using Slick Stick by Dixie Belle paint: always cover the mouth of the jar with plastic wrap before you screw the lid back on.  When they say it adheres well, they are not kidding.  It will adhere to both the lid AND the jar, making getting the jar open next time a real workout.

I tried using DecoArt's paint adhesion medium, with some good results.

 It is easy to mix with your basecoat paint.  But it comes in little bottles.  To tackle a large piece of furniture you would have to have a LOT of those little bottles.

One good thing about using Dixie Belle and DecoArt products:  you are dealing with good, reputable companies that specialize in decorative painting products.  One thing you DON'T want is an unpleasant surprise. (No, I don't get any kickbacks from these companies--I just like their products for this.)

I asked the manager of a local paint company if he had a primer that would work.  He advised me to read the label carefully, and always look for the words "bonding primer" in the title and description of the product.  I have tried several out--with mixed results.  Some have left a lot of brush marks or sponge marks no matter what tool I used, others have not had good adhesion to the surface. I was often not sure what type of finish I was covering up, (oil based? water based?) so I don't know if that impacted results or not.  

I also tried spraying pieces with a matte varnish, but sometimes this just caused bubbling or crackling of the original finish.  Wound up making more work for myself.

So I am opening the floor for discussion here.  Have any readers found a good solution?  Please share it in the comments.  I would love to find a dependable, affordable, step one for upcycles!!

Here are 3 of my successful upcycles of curbside browsing.  I am currently taking on a huge one--a dining table with matching chairs.

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