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Taking Care of Paintbrushes

Paintbrushes are one of the most important tools for furniture refinishing. Investing in quality brushes is essential as you use them everyday and they effect the finish on your work. There are many different paintbrushes out there and finding the ones that match your needs is much like finding the right paint to use. I use all kinds of paintbrushes for varying reasons such as size, type of bristle, shape, and cost. I still use chip brushes when I want a certain finish but I expect them to fall apart and shed bristles like crazy. They are basically disposable and not long term brushes. These I’m not too concerned with maintaining but what about the brushes you spend $30-$60 on a piece? You want to make sure you are taking care of your expensive brushes.

I’m not the best at taking care of my brushes or gently handling them. I’m the type where my paint brushes are covered in paint splatters and never look like new after the first use. For that reason, I invest in durable brushes that can withstand the occasional overnight with paint still on it type of scenario. I can clean them and get them back to serviceable shape. What do you do when the paint has dried on the bristles? What do you do when the bristles have hardened over time? What do you do when the bristles have bent out of shape being in the water and crammed with other brushes? There are a few tips and tricks you can use to get the bristles soft, paint free, and in original condition.

Murphy’s oil soap will remove dried up paint and condition the paint brush bristles. I soak them in a solution of Murphy’s oil soap and water for 12 hours and then use dawn soap and a scrubby sponge to clean off the dried paint. I’ve been able to resurrect many paint brushes because of Murphy’s oil soap. Another way to revive your brushes is to soak them in fabric softener. Use 1/4 cup of fabric softener to a quart of water and soak your brushes over night. If you’ve been using oil based paint or oil based products with your brushes, you’ll want to clean them with some mineral spirits and soak in some turpentine to get all the oily residue off. If you’ve been using the brush to wax, use mineral spirits to clean.

Cleaning my paintbrushes that have not been near death and are just dirty with wet paint, I love using Scrubby Soap. It’s made of biodegradable oils so not harsh on your hands and smells citrusy. Using dawn dish soap works mostly as well. I will also spray my brushes that get a lot of residue with Krud Kutter’s tough task cleaner. You can use denatured alcohol to clean your brushes but just be aware that it will dry out the bristles. There are better alternatives to alcohol when cleaning. There are also specialty paintbrush cleaning solutions you can use that work well like Krud Kutter Brush Wash-Cleaner and Renewer. I highly recommend the Krud Kutter brand because their products are non-toxic, biodegradable, and eco-friendly. Soaking your brushes in this solution will remove some of the more stubborn dried on paint/ primer from the bristles.

How you store your paintbrushes is just as important as cleaning. If you want to be extremely thorough you can wrap a wet paper towel around the brush bristles after it has been cleaned, put the brush in a zip lock bag or wrap with cling wrap and store it into your refrigerator. It will be ready to use when you need it. Never store your paintbrushes with the bristles down in a container as it will splay the bristles. I hang mine on my pegboard if I can or store them with the bristles up in a container. I just dampen the bristles with water before I need to use them so the paint does not go on too thick or dry quickly on the bristles. I use Cling on brushes a lot and those you store in clean water. Before I got the Cling On brush keeper my brushes would get bent out of shape with splayed hairs but now that I’ve been using the brush keeper it’s been a game changer. It’s a big fancy stainless steel bucket with 8 rubber holders to prevent the brushes from being crammed on the bottom. It’s also allowed me to easily switch brushes while I paint.

If your brushes are splayed and have the annoying stray hairs sticking out here and there, you can fix it by wrapping some twine around the clean and damp brush bristles loosely. Let the brush dry and the bristles should be back to normal. Making sure you don’t keep the brush bristles down so they rest on a surface while storing, will help to stop this from happening. Maintaining your paintbrushes is essential if you don’t want to keep replacing them. However, if you forget to clean them after each use, you can still revive your dried up paint brushes and bring them back to life.

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Why You Should Use Primer on Furniture

These days, a lot of furniture paints claim to be the perfect all in one that you need. No prep, sanding, priming, or sealing needed. We all love convenience and saving time. Companies are built upon making life more easy for their customers. Minimal hassle and effort are appealing especially for a beginner. There are ways to cut corners and save your time, but as we all know, quality is not something that is minimal effort. A little bit of extra work here and there saves you time in the future. I’m going to explain why you should prime your furniture pieces before painting.

Peeling latex paint

Primers help with paint adhesion and can cut down the amount of layers you need to use with the paint you’re using. If you’re using thinner paints, a primer will save you time in painting. When I use certain milk paints or enamel paints, I will prime so that I get better coverage. Some milk paints are more sheer than chalk based paints so primer helps with coverage. Primers help you to get the best foundation you need in order to apply your paint.

Depending on the type of paint you use, a primer is necessary, such as with latex paint. Traditionally latex paint is meant for walls and walls are not high traffic areas like furniture pieces so cannot be scrubbed or cleaned with chemicals. Additional products are needed to make it suitable for the use of furniture. Latex is however cheaper than most of the boutique paints you can find on the market and can offer more variety of colors so it may be more practical for you. If you are painting on glass or plastic, a primer will help with adhesion as well. With a high traffic surfaces that get lots of wear, using a primer will help the durability.

If you are a painting with a light color such as white, a primer is your best friend. It will block staining which happens when wood tannins seep through the paint causing yellowing and bleed through. It will also cut down the amount of layers you need to get a full white coverage on furniture. Make sure you get the type of primer that is stain blocking as not all have this property. Primers can also block odors which you will inevitably encounter when refinishing antique and vintage furniture.

Many paint brands offer their own line of primers now. Wise Owl has an excellent primer that will save you a lot of extra effort work to get the perfect finish. There’s an abundance of choices out there. Just remember, primer helps with coverage so if you are wanting the color underneath to peek through or for the paint to chip, then you would not want to use primer. There are spray can primers and primers you use a brush or roller to apply. I like using the spray primer’s such as Rustoleum’s painters touch ultra cover for ease of application.

Spray primer used on desk before painting.

Metallic paints need a base such as primer to help with coverage. The nature of metallic paints makes them a bit sheer so using primer first will save you money with using less layers of metallic paints and give you a truer shade of the metallic paint. Modern Master’s has their own primers for warm tones and colder tones of their metallic paint colors. They come in beige and gray with customizable levels of darkness. It helps with adhesion and also helps enhances the shade of metallic paint you are using.

It may seem like an extra cost and effort to apply a primer but overall it actually saves you money and time. You can rest assured that your finish will stand the test of time as well with the proper prep which is the foundation for lasting durability. Do you need to prime all furniture pieces? No, it depends on the look and style you are wanting to achieve. If you are painting over an already painted piece then some scuff sanding will suffice unless the paint peels off easily just by scraping your nail on it. In that case, you will want to strip off the paint and just start with a clean slate as the proper prep was not done to begin with. If you are distressing and want the wood underneath to come through or going for a shabby chic look, primer may make it harder for you to get that rustic look especially if you are wet distressing.

Distressed chest of drawers.

If you are painting over metal, a rust blocking primer is wise to use such as the kind Rustoleum carries. Metal corrodes and a primer will help protect it from corrosion due to the paint you apply on it and natural elements. Not only does it protect the over coat but also what is underneath as well. If painting over raw wood, definitely prime first before painting.

Don’t take shortcuts when you are prepping your piece of furniture or surface. It’s like putting lipstick on a pig and hoping for the best results. Certain steps should not be skipped no matter what the paint brand advertises. For long lasting results, taking a couple extra steps saves you the hassle of having to repaint in the future.

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Redesign with Prima’s Summer Release

When I saw the new redesign with prima’s summer release products, I was over the moon. It has diversity, variety of styles, and improved quality. There’s no doubt redesign with prima is innovative and listens to their consumers. As a brand ambassador, I have the privilege of trying all of their products. Having been with them for 3 years, I have seen the beginning and the evolution of their products over time. They offer the most rub on transfers from any company out there and it just keeps getting better and better. I’m proud to be a part of their team that is also a small, woman owned business that supports many minorities. It’s reflected in their designs of the products.

I worked tirelessly for a month straight to complete 8 pieces for the release. That’s how much I loved the transfers. I could see each one fitting a certain piece and the style that I could create for the transfer and decoupage papers. The part I was most excited about was being able to reflect my Asian heritage and culture. My parents are from Taiwan so I have Chinese and Japanese influence in my heritage. There is a lot of symbolic designs used like the crane, other birds, nature, and flowers. You might have seen the black lacquered furniture with pagodas, birds, fisherman, and elegant court ladies painted that is typical of Chinese furniture.

I love chinoiserie art and the transfer Postal Birds from immediately brought that to my mind. Not only was I inspired by the Asian like designs, I also love the nursery and baby themed transfers. I have a one year old son so that was a perfect reason to redo his furniture. My daughter is 3 and the butterfly dance transfer was a big hit with her. She asked me to paint her dresser and use that transfer.

In Asian cultures the crane represents good health, longevity, truth and fidelity. To be compared to the crane was the highest compliment. It is said a crane lives a thousand years.According to Japanese legend, folding a thousand paper cranes results in one wish. Most famous to undertake this challenge was Sadako Sasaki who at 2 year olds was exposed to atomic radiation from the bombing of Hiroshima. As a twelve-year-old girl she was diagnosed with leukemia. Suffering from the deadly disease, she learned the ancient tradition about the 1,000 paper cranes called senbazuru. Inspired to follow the legend, Sadako folded paper cranes in her hospital bed, praying for world peace. She managed to fold 644 cranes before passing away within the year. Touched by Sadako, her classmates folded the rest of the 364 paper cranes and buried all 1000 with her.

Following her death, a statue of her was erected at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in remembrance of all the innocent lives taken by war. Today, her memory serves as a symbol of hope and her story continues to inspire people to wish for a better future. One of peace, love, happiness, healing, and community. During this turbulent time when there is so much division and anger, when I see these cranes, I think of Sadako and her wish for world peace. I think of how much better the world would be if we were all folding a thousand paper cranes together in harmony.

I was inspired to go bold, using many different colors on all of my furniture pieces. I did a classic black to boho, fantasy, metallics. I wanted to show all the different kinds of styles that the transfers and decoupage papers can create. Redesign with prima decoupage papers are the easiest decoupage papers you’ll find. No worries about bubbling, tearing, wrinkling with these sturdy papers. They are more fibrous and like dryer sheets in texture. I have used spray adhesive, gesso, modge podge, and top coats to apply them. They allow you to use a variety of products without worry of botching up your decoupage. The new designs are amazing and so versatile. You can find the new products and other redesign with prima products here