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Green DIY: Reclaiming old chairs

 Posted by on August 6, 2012
Aug 062012
 

From Green Right Now Reports

Our kitchen chairs were a sturdy forest green, solid and enduring after 17 years.

Check out the chair at the right. Perhaps you have one that’s similar, a solid serviceable chair that you bought some years ago.

We acquired this one, and three like it, in 1995. I remember the year because we were adding a child to the family and needed a full set of sturdy kitchen chairs.

Wow how they lasted! Toddlers couldn’t destroy these chairs and neither could teenagers. I’m glad for that, but I’m way over forest green.

We decided at the behest of another child in the family to redo them in a bolder palette. A lot bolder. The reveal in a moment. But first, here are the steps we took to make this reuse project work.

STEP 1. We selected a low VOC paint, which is easy to do these days now that paint manufacturers have all responded to consumer pressure for less toxic ingredients. We chose a high gloss paint, which is a good durable choice for furniture if you like a little sheen, though a satin matte finish also would have worked.

A sanded and deglossed chair, ready for a new coat of paint.

STEP 2. After removing the rush seats from the chairs (they’re screwed in) we scuffed the entire surface with a light sanding, the goal being to dull the surface, not to remove the underlying paint (we want to avoid that chemical-laden, unnecessary step).

STEP 3. We further prepped the surface with a de-glosser. The one we used was low VOC and biodegradable, a greener version of other chemicals you can use to dull pre-painted surfaces, such as mineral spirits. You can find a de-glosser at most large hardware stores. Wear rubber gloves, dampen a rag with deglosser and spread it on every painted surface. The result should be a smooth, but matte surface, that’s ready to accept new paint.

The newly painted chairs were immediately distressed by dragging the brush back over selected areas.

STEP 4. Get ready to paint by spreading a drop cloth and assembling your supplies. It was important for our project that we be poised to paint quickly, because we wanted to distress the paint before it dried to give the chairs a “shabby chic” look.

STEP 5. Paint! We used 1- and 2-inch brushes, applying the paint quickly so we could distress it by dragging the brush back through the tacky, drying paint. You can see the effect in the picture to the right. (We let about 20 minutes elapse from the time we brushed it on before we distressed the finish.)

STEP 6. Let the chairs cure for several days before putting them back into daily use. Enjoy the awesome change.

Refinished chairs collaborate with our mission-style table for an updated look.