I started with a table and chairs which my best friend generously gave me when I moved into my apartment. They were originally dark green, and my friend had spray-painted them blue and pink.
My first step was cleaning the table and chairs very well, using this trisodium phosphate, mixed with water according to the directions on the box. I made sure to wear rubber gloves while using this because it is very strong.
The next step was sanding everything down. I used this 100 grit sandpaper. I opted not to use a sanding block because I was going to have to get into a lot of small areas, like the spindles on the backs of the chairs.
Per my dad's suggestion, I cut one sheet into 3 equal lengths.
And then folded each piece into thirds. This made the sandpaper easy to manage, and when one side was worn down, I could quickly switch it to a fresh side.
After I was finished sanding, I sucked up some of the dust with a shop vac. Then I used a tack cloth to wipe down the chairs and table really well. The tack cloth is slightly sticky (so it feels kind of gross to hold it) but it works really well to get the surface as smooth and clean as possible before starting to paint. You can see that the tack cloth in the plastic is completely white, and the used tack cloth on the right is full of paint that came off from the sanding.
Next: finally time to get some paint on there! Well, kind of - primer first. The Sherwin Williams guy tinted the primer to a gray color. I used an oil-based primer.
I almost completely forgot to take pictures of the chairs and table after I primed everything - I remembered just before I painted the top of the table black. The top of the table is what it looked like after a coat of primer, and the table legs have primer and one coat of black paint on them.
After everything was primed, it was time for the first coat of paint. I also forgot to take a picture of the black paint I used, but it was a black latex paint with a semi-gloss finish from Sherwin Williams. I used a paint brush on the chairs and the legs of the table (the one pictured above with the primer), and a foam roller on the top of the table.
After my first coat of black paint, I sanded down some spots which were a little rough and uneven. It was difficult to paint around the spindles of the chairs, so this area needed extra sanding. (Which also meant more vacuuming and wiping down with the tack cloth - phew.) In hindsight, I should have gotten a smaller brush to paint these areas.
Then it was time for the second coat of black paint, and some additional touch-ups after that.
When I was satisfied with the black paint, and after everything dried really well, it was time to put a protective finish on everything. Per the guy from Sherwin Williams, I put on one thin coat of finish, then I lightly sanded it with very fine grit sandpaper, wiped it down with a tack cloth again, and then put a second (and final!) protective coat on.
It took a lot longer than I was expecting. Thank goodness for the NPR app on my phone and lots of entertaining podcasts like Weekends on All Things Considered, Car Talk, and Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! I think my dad got a kick out of seeing me spend so much time in the garage listening to Car Talk - I'm finally following in his footsteps :) Kind of.
My final step was hammering some plastic floor protectors into the bottom of each chair (I drilled pilot holes into the legs first so that they'd go in straight and the wood wouldn't split). I previously used felt floor protectors, but they didn't look very nice and tended to move and/or fall off. I'm happy with the plastic floor protectors.
I think the time was worth it, though - I love the results! And it's satisfying to see my table and chairs every day and know that my hard work paid off. I have to say, it's made me think about what other DIY projects I can take on to give some other things in my apartment a little facelift. I've got my eye on a VERY outdated brass lamp at the moment.
Song of the day:
Since it's December, I think I'm going to share some of my favorite Christmas/ holiday songs. This one is actually not much of a song, but it's a classic. "Santa Claus and His Old Lady" by the inimitable Cheech and Chong. Enjoy! "Once upon a time about, mmm, 5 years ago..."