I have had several people ask me about refinishing techniques... I will begin with a preface that I am just beginning this hobby so my technique may not be the best, and may change over time. However, I have been really pleased with the results.
Some of the frequently asked questions:
1. Where do you find your furniture?
Thus far I have been able to find some really nice stuff at our local thrift store (D. I.), through craigslist and our local newspaper's online classified ads. Because my primary goal is to develop a hobby, I plan to resell most of the furniture after I refinish it. And because I do not want a houseful of desks... I try to find items that are inexpensive, sturdy and have a more classic design style.
2. Do you sand your furniture first?
I sand the furniture first if it has a major dents or scratches, or if their is a heavy varnish/polyurethane finish on top. For the varnish I just do a quick sanding with a 120 grit sandpaper on an electric sander to rough it up a little bit. For scratches I typically use a 80 or 60 grit sandpaper to create an even surface and then 120 grit to smooth the top layer.
3. Do you prime your furniture?
Yes, I use KILZ latex primer... it is really nice and thick and will evenly cover most light scratches or dings.
4. What paint do you use?
I love Behr brand paint... I have used in several of my home over the years and have been very pleased. For my furniture, I just buy the mistinted or damaged paints in a neutral, latex base. I typically buy the premium plus because it is usually the least expensive. I do finish my furniture with a polyurethane so I do not worry about the gloss-style.
5. What sand paper do you use to distress?
Either a 120 or 220 grit sand paper depending on what I have convenient and how distressed I want to make it. For distressing I try to mimic natural use patterns... where ever hands and feet commonly touch I distress (i.e. the ends of arm rest, top of chair back, near the "foot rests" at the bottom). Also, I lightly distress all the edges and corners. I have found that I really like to show the original and primed colors underneath so I with distress with varied pressure to bring out different colors.
6. Do you finish with a polyurethane?
Yes, I use a clear (not color or tint added) water-based Varathane polyurethane for interior wood. I choose water-based for ease in cleaning up.
7. Do you use spray paint, an air compressor, paint-brush or roller-brush?
I usually paint with a hand brush... although I have heard really great things about using an air compressor... Maybe someday.
I have used spray paint on some of my picture frames and smaller pieces... but I didn't like the finish as well... probably I just applied it too heavily.