Painted furniture has been popular for centuries because of the endless possiblities it provides to add color and texture to a room. A well constructed piece of wood furniture with an average grain and texture can be transformed into a piece that creates a stunning visual impact with the use of paint.

If applied properly, painting provides a durable surface that resists moisture, stains, chipping and marring. Paint is an applied pigment, as opposed to stains which are rubbed into the surface of the wood. Therefore, minor imperfections in the grain are not as critical. The surface is prepared in the same way as with other finishes. It is sanded smooth and should be free of dust or grease. Paints with different properties are applied in layers to form a strong, protective surface. A primer is applied first to seal the bare wood. Next, one or two undercoats are applied, which are lightly sanded after they dry. This is followed by one or two top coats of clear varnish. When dry, the varnish will have a glossy, matte or satin finish. As with all good quality wood furniture, the backs and undersides of pieces should also be sanded and painted.

Many unusual effects can be created with paint in addition to solid colors and geometric patterns. Painted motifs can create elaborate and elegant pieces that border on works of art. By using paint in combination with colored oil glazes many interesting effects or illusions can be created, especially if the glaze is applied with items such as sponges, combs, feathers or cloth. Antiquing, color washing and highlighting are accomplished by applying a glaze and then wiping it down with a cloth or other item to create different textures. Combing through the glaze creates a checkerboard effect, and a sponge will create a marbled effect. Distressing or spattering is the result of flicking glaze from a paintbrush. Painted furniture provides and endless variety of decorative finishes.

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