Friday, 9 November 2012

Pitfalls of painting pine...

The dawn of Annie Sloan chalk paint has turned everyone into a furniture painter. And that's a good thing. I think creativity is to be encouraged and up cycling is good for the planet. There is one type of furniture however that requires a little more forethought than just slapping a bit of ASCP on it.

The knottiness can ruin your work as the knots continue to seep resin for years and this will eventually discolour your paintwork and spoil your piece.

Traditionally you would use Knotting solution to seal the knots, but this is only suitable when being over painted with an oil based paint. Most modern furniture painting is done with water based paints like emulsion (latex) or chalk paint.
So what's a girl to do?

It's generally safe to assume a factory lacquered modern pine piece will have had the knots treated and should be okay to paint if you're not sanding and removing that treatment. But if it's waxed pine, untreated pine or you're just not sure, then a stain sealing, high adhesion super primer is the answer. It's water based so you can over paint with water based paints, no problem.

I use Blackfriars Problem Solving Primer. One coat over the knots and another coat over the whole thing. 

No they're not paying me to write this. It's just great stuff.

This is a large old pine chest that sits in my hallway. It's the most useful piece of furniture as all the bedding for the sofa bed fits in the top section, and the drawer at the bottom fits the dressing up clothes in. I think it's called a Mule chest.

This floor is NOT staying!

But I don't do pine. I'm totally with the Scandinavians on this. Orange as a colour is wrong and must be obliterated.
So, two coats of Blackfriars on every knot. ( I know I said do the whole thing, but I want to distress back to wood here not primer, and I'm using chalk paint next so I don't have to prime the whole thing.)

Then I chose three paint samples from Wilkinsons, only £1 each and they have some lovely colours.
I turned a few samples of a mid grey 'Mineral Stone' into home made chalk paint with plaster of paris dissolved in hot water then added to the paint. The ratio is 3 parts paint to one part plaster of paris and as much water as you need to make it the right consistency. Because this is a huge thing I had to keep adding more and more water as I went, as it kept on thickening up. Then what happens is the ratio of the paint decreases and the chalk paint becomes less and less opaque as you go. No matter, I did two coats of transparent grey chalk paint then finished with a coat of pure paint so I got the coverage I was after.
This piece of furniture has been previously waxed and that's why I wanted to use chalk paint. That's the beauty of chalk paint, you CAN paint over previously waxed furniture. All I did for preparation was sugar soaping and removing the handles.
Once it was all grey I rubbed the corners, edges and mouldings with candle wax. My chosen top coat colour was 'Coastline' from Wilkinsons. It's a gorgeous expensive looking cream. Now the piece had been primed with the chalk paint undercoat, I could just use pure paint without adding anything to it. Those sample pots go a long way, even on something this size.
And that's as far as I've got. I'm hoping to finish it this weekend. I want to add some embellishment to the panels on the front...

I've got paint all over the floor, but that's okay as I'm on the verge of ordering our new wooden flooring and these nasty tiles will be covered soon. You might think that after a four year wait I would know exactly what I want for the floor. Well, I did but when the samples came, I decided the grey washed oak I had wanted, looked a little too frantic. I've had to go back to the drawing board, you can only order 3 samples at a time and they take 5 days to come so it's a long process. It's a huge expense and I don't want to make a mistake! I was about to place an order yesterday, when I became paralysed by fear and ordered more samples instead. This could take some time...

You can see how the chest turned out here.


  1. Aha, you've made chalk paint! Yay, I knew about the emulsion/plaster of Paris combo. And it works? Hurrah, can't wait to make my own ( I've got a few projects in mind) and I can't wait to see your chest in all it's glory. Mmmmm, that sounds a bit wrong!

  2. Haha! Yes it works! It has to pass the fingernail test to be successful. And at one point I was having a little freakout as it was scratching off, but in my impatience I had tested it when the paint was soft. Once it was fully dry it was totally bonded.

  3. Can't wait to see the finished article.

  4. I have a Victorian blanket box that I'd like to paint with homemade chalkpaint, so I now feel a bit braver about doing it - although I will probably get heaps of criticism for painting an antique, but it has become more shabby in the few years we have had it then in all its decades before! I blame the kids and the fact that I let them use it as a toybox :-( Look forward to seeing your finished chest!


    1. I know what you mean! I'm hoping mine isn't a valuable antique! Thing is, it's got to fit with your decor and I've always preferred painted wood than wood. Pine is pants! And traditionally it would have been painted anyway. In the eighties everyone had it dipped and waxed.

      There's an overpowering stench of wax in the air tonight and my husband wants to know why we can't just buy 'finished' furniture like 'normal' people...

  5. Thanks for the useful tips! i cant wait to see the finished result! i bet it's gonna be gorgeous! i'm with you with the scandinavian hehe

    x susan

  6. LOL..Oh God! You would hate our house then, as nearly everthing is pine but not a horrible orange pine and its all bashed and battered from over the years. I attempted to paint our diniing table in chairs but it went horribly wrong and I have been stripping it back off for the past 6mths (not a priority project) I do have a small blanket type bx at the top of the stair that i fancy have a go at, but yikes!

    You do make it sound & look so easy, so I might pluck up the courage, especially if Chalk paint really is that good.

    Can't wait to see pictures of your finished piece x

    1. Oopsie! How to offend new friends! I'm good at that! Well, it'd be boring if everyone was the same eh? x

  7. Having cut my teeth many years ago in the local pine workshops (my local town is/was the largest pine furniture manufacturing place in Europe), I've never known a manufacturer to treat the knots in pine, either prior to, or during manufacture. This is the same with new or reclaimed timber. The furniture is either varnished, or waxed, depending on the current fashion and a resin bleed isn't considered a problem on unpainted furniture. It produces a rough texture to the varnish/wax, but no-one seems to bother about that.

    What was a problem... pine furniture made in a cold Victorian workshop, then placed in the warm NEC for the Furniture Show = cracked pine wardrobes left, right and centre:-) The manufacturers used to hide glasses of water inside the furniture to stop it drying out during the show.


    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      This is where I heard it. Factory lacquered pine has a built in stain blocker for the knots!

    3. And this guy is the GURU of painting wood!

  8. That looks brilliant, I love the aged look to it, a million times better than the way it started. Call me weird (most people do) but I'm rather in love with your doormat. x
    PS Having hated it the first time round I don't get the 1980s love either but I know people of my age used to say the same thing to me about my 1970s fetish when I was a teenager!

  9. Love your blog! I've been doing a lot of home improvement work and just invested in some beautiful pine furniture. Can't wait for it to be delivered.

  10. whats this about scandies?? we went through quite some years with untreated pine being the big thing, I personally cant stand it anymore, actually gonna paint this ugly dinning set I have, and reupholster the ugly checkered country seats lol

    1. I think they paint it all or at least white wash it! Good luck, sounds like a big job!

  11. We are currently shopping for a decent sized workdesk for our office.
    Just not sure if I should go for a standalone desk or something
    that is integrated with our houses Keira.

  12. Yipee this is great, I am looking to get a desk table come dressing table for a growing teen to take her through secondary school and I know that it will have to be big enough as a work arts table too, I think I have got the right furniture but was worried about meeting the cost of the refurb from orange scuffed pine, thanks for the advice on the plaster paris and Wilks samples, my only outlay will be the sample pot and handles yay! Its is such a relief really as teens have a habit of heavy usage and spoiling stuff, so this is great.


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