Painting an Antique Wash Stand
I have amassed quite a collection of “project” furniture and objects waiting for a future date with my creative magic sessions. I worry that some of this behavior is bordering on packratness (I don’t think that is a word, at least my spell check says it isn’t. But, you get my drift, right?!) So, when a Wagner rep contacted me about trying one of their paint sprayers, I couldn’t reply “YES!” fast enough. I had visions of setting up all those projects and spraying them down in a line-up fashion. But, I reined in my “glass half-overflowing” mentality and decided to tackle one project at a time. Good thing too, because although the Wagner Power Painter Plus with EZ Tilt (affiliate link) did spray at lightning fast speed, there were a few drawbacks.
But, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I still want to give you a bonafide tutorial on how to fix, prep, paint and finish a wobbly yard sale find for yourself.
(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)
- Sanding Blocks – 60, 100 and 220 grit
- Gorilla Glue
- Clamps or rope to secure glued joints*
- Finish Nails (or brads)
- Baby Wipe or wet rags
- Paint Brush
- Primer (I used KILZ Clean Start)
- Acrylic Paint (semi-gloss or gloss preferred)
- Paint Sprayer*
- Power sander
- Wipe on polyurethane
*These items are purely optional. You don’t NEED them, but they help.
This wash stand had a $5 price tag on it. But, my neighbor gave it to me for $3. Is that robbery to talk someone into less than $5 for this antique?! In self defense, the stand was in pretty poor shape. It was VERY wobbly and had some big scratches on it. Can you forgive me?
Here is what you do when you find yourself as the new owner of a “this really should be trashed” purchase. Take it apart and rebuild it from the ground up. Having done this before with Daisy the Discarded Chair, I was prepared to tear this wash stand down to the ground. But, luckily it had some better joints than I had anticipated. So, I basically pulled apart anything that was not tightly joined.
The shelf over the drawer came off super easy.
As did a few joints.
I wiped the whole wash stand down with a wet rag.
Then, the side of the stand got some new glue and a few finish nails.
The joints got some Gorilla Glue and were set back together. And, I added a thin bead of glue and some finish nails to re-secure the shelf.
Next I sanded down the whole piece of furniture with these two 3M sanding blocks. I like to call them Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum because they are super easy to use. Even an idiot can’t screw up.
They work great for around spindly legs because they can bend and flex (I wish I could bend and flex like that!)
After wiping off all the sawdust, my wash stand looked like this:
Almost too pretty to paint, but it had some serious gouges, so I took a picture and said goodbye to the beautiful wood.
Here is where the race began. I decided to time myself painting on the primer with a brush. Then time myself using the sprayer for the first coat of paint.
Start your engine….paint brush and KILZ Clean Start Primer…GO!
After 30 minutes I had primed the entire stand from top to bottom.
After the primer dried, I gave the stand a quick, light sanding with a 220 grit sanding block and wiped it down with a damp rag.
I set up the sprayer, read all the directions (very important!) Then I filled the quart size reservoir and attached it to the sprayer. The Wagner Power Painter Plus doesn’t require a compressor, just a good old fashioned extension cord plugged into your household outlet.
Start your engine…Wagner Power Painter Plus…GO!
VROOOOOOM! The sprayer let out the loudest and most obnoxious noise I had ever heard (Note to self to wear ear protection next time.) I thought the sprayer was going to self destruct, so I let go of the trigger. Then I pulled it again and the noise returned, only to abate after a few seconds once the paint started to come through the nozzle. Phew, that scared me.
I breezed through painting the entire wash stand from top to bottom. I started with it upside down and quickly flipped it while it was still wet (I left a finger print underneath, but no one will know about that unless you squeal.)
And I was done. Then I looked at my timer and WHAT?!!! 5 MINUTES! Holy Cannoli! I had no idea a sprayer could shave that much time off a paint job.
I left the wash stand outside, while I took apart the paint sprayer.
To avoid emptying the paint canister, I covered the container with saran wrap and a rubber band.
Then I took apart the ENTIRE sprayer and cleaned out all the parts. It is soooo important to clean the sprayer thoroughly or you risk paint drying in your machine and ruining it. This is a look at the sprayer disassembled.
It is paramount to clean the tiny dual spray tips on the machine. They are small slits that can clog easily if the paint is allowed to dry in them.
After the wash stand had dried. I put the sprayer back together and screwed the paint container back onto the gun.
I was all pumped and excited to be done in 5 minutes! With dusk still 30 minutes away, I had no fear. BIG MISTAKE!
What was to ensue was a stressful 45 minutes of paint globbing, paint sputtering, my cursing, and frantic cleaning of the sprayer again. I finished spraying, but I had to use a different top coat color because I ran out of the first paint color. (Which ended up being one of those happy mistakes. You’ll see.)
I wiped off the big globs of paint and decided to give those areas a little “extra” distress in the morning.
After stepping back from the project, doing some research and having a twitter conversation with Shaunna (the furniture painting guru), here is what I concluded from my disasterouos 2nd attempt:
- The paint sprayer MUST have a full paint cup in order to work properly. When the reservoir gets down to less than 1/4 full any air that gets into the paint suction tube will cause the sprayer to sputter and discharge big globs of paint, instead of a nice even spray.
- The sprayer dispenses an INSANE amount of paint in 5 minutes and when it runs low #1 happens. I used a half gallon of paint on the first coat of paint on this small wash stand. Whereas, I normally would have used maybe half a quart to brush on two coats total. The drop cloth was so heavy with paint when I cleaned up, that I realized the majority of the paint was wasted in overspray.
- The Plus does not have a low paint level indicator. Therefore, it is very difficult to determine when you are getting low on paint until the sprayer starts to sputter and shoot out globs of paint onto your project.
- In the same vein, the paint canister only holds a quart of paint, and 1/4 of that isn’t useable unless you like Jackson Pollock style painting.
The next morning, I took out my power sander and gave the sink some character by distressing it.
This is where the happy accident occured. Because I had to use an aqua blue as the top coat on my sink, you could see the blue gray color peeking out! Which I think makes it look sweet, shabby and old.
Once I was happy with the amount of distressing, I sanded any chipping paint and rough spots with the 220 grit sanding block. Then, I cleaned off the wash stand with a damp rag. To protect the sink, I used Minwax wipe-on Polyurethane. I like the wipe-on Poly for speed. But, it doesn’t leave as thick a coat as the traditionally brush on kind. So, if you really want to protect a piece of furniture, use the brush on kind instead.
I added a cute little crystal
cheap acrylic knob to the drawer.
And my new/old dry sink looks right at home in the corner of my porch! Although, it needed something…hmmmm….
…how about a plant! I dropped in a plastic pot with NO holes in the bottom. I filled the bottom 1/4 with rocks for drainage. And my pothos plant. I used to have a chippy pedestal that sat there, but sadly I had to get rid of it. I’ll fill you in on the details next week. It is a sad story ;-(.
Here is my summary of working with the Wagner Power Painter Plus model:
- Pros – Saves time. $100 price tag. No compressor needed.
- Cons – Small Paint Cup, No Flow Speed Selector, No Low Paint Level Indicator, Lots of overspray and wasted paint.
I will definitely try the sprayer again. When I do I might add Floetrol to my paint, which is supposed to help your paint even out and give you a smoother finish. (Especially if it globs on you.)
- Wagner Power Painter Max has a two speed selector AND a paint level indicator. This model runs under $100. Have a great weekend and see you next week with some more DIY goodies.
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Hi Brittany =)
First time visiting and leaving a message on your site…. I LOVE all your projects and great tutorials.
I had to leave a comment on this particular post. Just this past weekend I returned my “used” Wagner Power Sprayer back to Home Depot. After trying the Wagner several times, each and every time it spit, splotched and made a huge mess. I’m now in search for a replacement. Thanks for sharing. It might give others a heads up when choosing a spray gun.
This was a great tutorial and product review! Thanks for giving such honest opinions!! I think I would paint my daughter’s corner desk (which I have yet to build).
Would love the paint sprayer, I have oodles of pieces that I want to redo. I’ve been considering purchasing one for quite a while, so to win this would be awesome!!
I just wanted to take a minute to tell you that you have a great site! Keep up the good work.
I rec’d my Wagner Power Paint Sprayer & the Deck Mate that I won from you today! Thank you so much!! I am so excited to use it and I will definitely blog about it when I use it! Expect to see a link back to you in my blog! Thank you, sweetie!!
Your blog is so inspiring!!
I have a dresser that I want to “shabby chic” and use for my dining room linens and silverware. I would give the deck stainer to my Mom. She has a huge back deck and likes to stain it herself. This would be so much easier for her to use.
I would LOVE to win! Have always wanted to try a sprayer
I love the job you did on your washstand…FANTASTIC. I can only imagine the amazing Jobs that can be done, I have a old 1970s dresser that i love, just not the brown speckled finish. I have been wanting to paint it for some time, but with all the decorative scrolling I didnt want to use a brush. This would be PERFECT for painting the dresser!!! Love your site and thanks for all the inspiration!