How to Clean Wood Furniture Before Painting
Learning how to clean furniture before painting is more than just dusting. To get furniture clean enough to paint, you need to be prepared for anything.
Whether you’re trying to flip some furniture or you want to breathe new life into that old family chair, you should always clean the furniture before painting.
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Think of your furniture as a canvas
As furniture ages, whether in use or in storage, it will pick up layers of dust, dirt, and grime. It can be tempting to paint on a dirty piece of your furniture, but getting the best results means starting with a clean canvas.
Like Rembrandt or Van Gogh, you’ll be working on your latest masterpiece when you start painting your chair. Why not start with the best available canvas?
Here’s why you should clean furniture before painting and how to do it!
Why You Should Clean Furniture Before Painting
We learn how to clean furniture before painting to get the best possible results on our finished project.
Yes, those rustic and DIY looks are still in style, but to achieve them you need to start with a clean piece of furniture. Although they look aged and weathered, you have to put in a lot of work to achieve these high aesthetic standards. Furniture that is still old and worn and furniture that looks rustic and charming is often judged by how clean it was when the furniture was updated.
Find the character of your furniture
Not only does cleaning the furniture before painting gives you the best possible furniture to work with, but it also helps you get to know the furniture you’ll be working with. Furniture has its character and unique quality, especially when it comes to vintage pieces. Even two chairs of the same make and model can have completely different roles when it comes time to restore them.
If you take the time to clean the furniture before painting, it will allow you to spot any cracks or damage, and give you a better idea of whether the piece of furniture is completely finished. What will be needed to restore?
Before we start cleaning the furniture before painting, we need to know what supplies we need.
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Your Furniture Cleaning Supplies
Before you can pick and choose the best paint for DIY furniture projects, you’ll need some cleaning supplies. This is the biggest step in learning how to clean furniture before painting.
The right cleaning products will help restore your furniture to its former glory, while the wrong cleaning products can damage the wood more than it had to begin with. Make sure you are cleaning the furniture before painting with the right stuff!
Cleaning solution options
Using the right cleaning solution is key to successfully cleaning your furniture. The right cleaning solutions will restore your furniture and make it perfectly ready for the rest of your project, while the wrong cleaning solutions can damage finishes and damage the wood itself.
Mild cleaning with water
The key to choosing the right cleaning solution is knowing what you’re trying to remove and how hard you need to clean it. If the piece of furniture in question just has some dirt and dust from years of storage, you can get away with using nothing more than a damp rag to clean the furniture before painting. Green cleaning solutions are also generally less harsh and offer a safer way to clean old furniture.
Heavy cleaning with cleaning products
If you have some serious dirt on your old furniture, you need some more scrubbing. Cleaners such as go-gon, denatured alcohol, and mineral spirits can tackle much more serious buildup in older furniture.
Keep in mind that those cleaners can be harsher on the wood than the first option. At the same time, they should be perfectly safe for some light to moderate cleaning applications.
Now that we know what we’re cleaning, we’re on our way to getting the right gear to get started.
Sponges, scrubbing pads, and brushes
A cleaning solution alone will not make your old furniture ready for paint. You also need more cleaning supplies to get the job done. You need to do some scrubbing to clean the furniture before painting.
You should be able to clean any piece of furniture with a few sponges, a scrubbing pad, and an old rag or two. Try to avoid using cleaning products that damage the wood. Unless you’re dealing with really stubborn dirt and debris, you should probably avoid brillo pads or other metal scraping tools.
Once you have your cleaning supplies and tools ready, we can begin cleaning the furniture before painting the piece.
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Think about your goals
What do you want to achieve with your painted furniture? Are you looking for a sleek and modern design that is ready to join today’s latest interior design projects or are you looking for that rustic farmhouse chic?
If you’re going for this style of barnyard, it’s okay to leave your piece a little rough around the edges after the first pass of cleaning. While you want the cleanest piece of furniture to handle, leaving a little wear will only add to that salvaged look.
We mentioned at the top of this guide that you want the cleanest canvas to work and that’s true whether you’re going for a modern look or a flaky milk paint style. However, if you want a real rustic style you can always keep some of these second-hand finds.
Remember that cleaning your furniture is part of breathing new life into it. It’s all about setting yourself up to win when you’re ready to develop your perfect style.