Faux Aged Wood Table and Chairs (or How I Ruined My Grandmother’s Kitchen Set) Part 2

If you want to have any idea of what’s going on in this post, you really ought to read this one first. Part one illustrates how to achieve the über trendy burned-up-in-a-fire look. In this post, I’ll tackle another aging technique: making brand new paint look old, cracked, chipped…and awesome.

To refresh your memory, I started with this:

01 original table

And ended up with this:

24 finished project

If, for reasons passing understanding, you still think this a worthwhile project, then by all means, read on!

Materials: 

  • A bunch of regular paintbrushes in a variety of sizes
  • Flat black acrylic paint
  • Turquoise blue acrylic paint
  • Elmer’s glue (Avoid the bottles that say, ‘New Stronger Formula’ on the label. Apparently it doesn’t work as well as regular old school glue.)
  • Sealer/Primer (This was on the recommendation of Paul from Home Depot who we’ll soon learn never to trust again.)

[Note: I’ve learned (the hard way – on several occasions) that it’s far better to have too much paint than too little. Especially when it means leaving a half-finished project to dry while you frantically drive to the craft store to buy more paint. Because that’s super annoying.]

Prep:

If your arm isn’t ready to fall off from sanding furniture, you’re doing it wrong.

Step 1: Paint the base coat

  • Using a medium-sized brush, apply the black acrylic base coat and let it dry completely. One coat should be sufficient.

14 base

Step 2: Apply Elmer’s glue

This is the fun bit because playing with glue is awesome.

crackle paint[Note: Initially, I tried using the Martha Stewart Crackle medium specialty finish that Home Depot Paul (in whose judgement I was rapidly losing faith) told me to purchase.

Two words: epic fail. Worst six bucks I ever spent. When I explained to Paul how I wanted to age the paint (a process that involves a lot of time, glue and overall mess) he assured me that I needn’t bother because Martha had come up with a handy-dandy, no-mess, one-step process!

Me: She really does think of everything, doesn’t she?

Paul: (Insert Boston accent here) I mean, she had all that time in jail to come up with this stuff, right? What else was she supposed to do?

Touché, Paul. However, I think it’s a crappy product and I do not recommend it.]

Instead you should…

  • Squeeze some glue onto your painted surface. The more glue you use, the larger the cracks you’ll get.

16 glue

  • Brush the glue along the grain of the wood, but don’t worry too much about applying an even coat, as cracks don’t usually appear in an even, uniform manner.
  • Allow glue to dry a little bit. Five minutes or so should do it. You want it to be tacky, but not wet. I found that when the glue starts to lose some of its shine it’ safe to paint over it.

Step 3: Apply your topcoat 

  • Brush on your main color, making sure to paint with the grain. Again, one coat is plenty because you want to see the black underneath.

17 turquoise paint

  • Be aware that the paint will stick and pull a little bit, which shouldn’t be at all surprising cause there’s a lot of glue under there. If it does start to pull, avoid the temptation to apply more paint. A little bit is okay to fill in big gaps, but I was a little too liberal with my topcoat application on the chairs and it was a huge pain in the ass to fix. It involved a good deal more sanding and a lot of cursing – enough said.

18 painted base

  • Let dry. Like, really dry. Like, wait until it’s so dry that it couldn’t possibly be any drier, then wait five more days, dry. Then it’ll be almost done. I’m kidding, mostly. Naturally, I chose the hottest, rainiest, most humid week of the year thus far to paint (not my best idea), so it probably took a bit longer to dry than it normally would have.

Because I was largely making this project up as I went along, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the chairs until after the table was finished. That meant repeating some of the process from part one once I decided that I wanted the seat of the chairs to match the table top and the back/legs to match the base. Also, since it was raining I wasn’t able to stain the seat before painting as I would’ve liked. I mean sure, I could’ve waited for the rain to stop so I could go outside to apply the evil-smelling potion that I used to stain/burn the tabletop, but I have no patience for such things so that wasn’t going to happen.

Fatal error in judgement. Okay, not fatal, but certainly not helpful.

So, I painted my chairs, used way too much paint (and glue) and had to re-sand parts of them and start again. It was awful. And since I was way too preoccupied with cursing my own stupidity and impatience to take any pictures, there is, much to my chagrin (and yours I’m sure), no photographic evidence of my shame. At least not this time.

20 taped and steel wool stainAfter a few miserable days of non-stop chilly rain, I finally got a break and took my (mostly dry) chairs outside to stain.

I was afraid of getting stain all over my freshly painted (and re-painted) rungs, so I covered the bottoms in wax paper. It worked okay. Some of the stain seeped through, but I felt that it added to to overall distressed look I was going for, so I left it there.

[In reality, I was way too fed up to even consider trying to fix it, so telling myself that it was a happy accident is how I’m able to sleep at night. (Though all evidence suggests otherwise, I’m a little bit of a perfectionist and I have a hard time letting go of my mistakes.)]

Anyway, I tried to recreate the accidental process I stumbled upon with the tabletop, but it didn’t quite turn out as I’d hoped. I don’t know if it’s because I was using the same steel wool/vinegar mixture from my previous exploits and it went bad, or if I just did an even crappier job sanding the chairs than I did the table, because it wasn’t good. It turned out very patchy, especially around the rungs where it was difficult to sand. In those areas, the stain didn’t seem to want to stick.

I tried re-sanding and re-staining those spots to no avail. Then I tried brushing a very small amount of black paint on there and immediately wiping it off in order to darken it at least a little bit. That kind of worked but, true to form, I quickly grew impatient with the process, started brushing on way too much paint which naturally wouldn’t come off.

So I sanded some more.

Then I painted/stained some more.

Then I gave up.

This is what I got for my efforts:

23 oops

It’s not pretty, but I think I can hide the worst of it with a chair pad.

Step 4: Apply clear coat?

Then, just for the hell of it, I applied a coat of the leftover sealer/primer from the tabletop. It made it super shiny, which I suppose isn’t in keeping with the aged look I was going for, but I really like shiny things so shut up.

You might be able to skip this step. This was more advice from Home Depot Paul, so take it with a grain of salt.

So here it is again – my finished table…tada…

24 finished project

And to think, it only took me two weeks to completely destroy this charming little kitchen set. Imagine what I’ll be able to accomplish with an entire summer, a giant Ikea bookshelf and a hacksaw. I can already tell it’s gonna be amazing.

Here’s hoping I don’t lose a limb!

– S

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