How to stain chairs with high gloss finish

angeldogJuly 25, 2008

I have six ladder-back chairs w/rush seats from Pier One. They are beige wood and I want to stain them a dark wood or maybe paint them black. I have no idea where to begin. The glossy finish should be removed first for the new stain or paint to adhere, but I dont know how. Can anyone advise what products to use and how to apply, etc.?? Even good stain products or the right paint advice too. Thanks for the help!

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Materials to refinish furniture can add up quickly. How much is this chair worth? It will cost you at least $50 in materials unless you have a cheaper source than Home Depot. Anyway, Home Depot or any paint store sells this green gel/paste that works great to strip old paint varnish. Then you sand to bare wood. Apply new stain. Apply several coats of high gloss polyurethane. Trick here: After each coat of poly, lightly sand using steel wool (look in sand paper isle at Home Depot or Lowes.) That is all it takes; money & time. If I were you, I'd look around for a chair already like you want it.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 3:38PM
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The chairs were almost $100 each. I wouldn't mind ditching them and starting over, but was trying to save some $...did you mean $50 per chair or for the whole set? Sounds like a lot of work, especially the sanding since there are almost no flat surfaces. Do you know of any sanding techniques other than by hand? Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 6:13PM
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Figure at least a day's time per chair. There is a chance that the finish on there is one that cannot be stripped easily (I have encountered a few of these and they are bears).

Rough costs:
Stripper (gal) $20
Sandpaper $5
Stain $8
Varnish $10
Brush $10-30
Thinner/brush cleaner $8
Rags, gloves, wire brushes, etc. $10

Of course, you can power sand, if you have a sander. If not, figure another $80.

Check around. You may be able to find a finisher who will spray lacquer on them inexpensively if you do all the prep work.

You may be able to paint them over the existing finish, assuming you rough it up, clean it up and have compatible finishes.

Do not use Latex paint for furniture.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 8:02PM
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No one has mentioned the difficulties of reworking a chair with a rush seat...
One splotch of stain and the rush will soak it up like a sponge....and there is no removing it from rush. You will need to mask very well.
As I see it, you have 2 choices, do it quick and dirty, just sand the existing finish enough to rough it up and and wipe on a dark paint...and call it good. I mean after all they are not expensive chairs and even if you do put an heirloom finish on them, they are still Pier One chairs.
Or you can sell them to someone who likes that color and start over again.
But I wouldn't put the time and effort into cheap chairs to "do it right".
Oh wait....there is a third option...learn to love the light finish until you buy something else.
Linda C

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 9:03PM
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The quickest easiest solution is to paint them. First paint with BIN or KILZ the paint you want will then adhere to the primer. again be very careful of the rush seats, I would tape them off with plastic covering that area.

also if you do go the remove finish, sand stain route. Min Wax makes a good product that is stain and polyurethane finish all in one step and it works very well.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 11:02AM
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When using BIN or KILZ, is it still necessary to sand first? I'm furnishing my son's college apartment and he wants black furniture. The varnished pieces I've got to paint are vintage mahogany dining chairs with lattice backs, a golden oak pedestal dining table and This End Up solid yellow pine occasional tables. I've never painted furniture before and could use some advice, such as how to best prep the wood, apply the BIN and what kind of paint to use over the BIN. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 12:50PM
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I find myself agreeing with LindaC, on all counts. I believe the expression is, "Putting lipstick on the pig."

I have done a bunch of chairs to black and it takes me about an hour to mask off the rush seat before applying any finish. I take lacquer (green) masking tape and lots of sections of newspaper. I normally spray on pre-cat lacquer for this.

I do not like Polyshades, and I'll leave it at that.

If you are going to paint, do not use latex paint. Use either an oil-based enamel or high quality acrylic if you are going to brush or a lacquer if you are going to spray.

Here is a link that might be useful: sample

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 4:58PM
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I have two turn of the century rush seat chairs that have been in storage for years. I want to clean up and use them! Both are black stained frames with natural rush seats. It looks like the seat has a shiny varnish on it. The chairs are in excellent shape, but the seats have dirt wedged between the cracks. Research on cleaning these seats states that they should be vacuumed, and a moistened toothbrush should be used to get into the ridges.

Do you agree with these methods? I'm not sure this is going to be enough to really clean the seats. Also, should I attempt removing the varnish on the seats or will it be detrimental to the chair?

Please help! Thanks in advance...

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 5:08PM
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Here's how I would do it. First, I would get some cheap plastic drop cloths and fold these to the shape of the seat and tape the rush off as explained above. Then, I would wash all surfaces with warm soapy water. Then I would wash it down again with paint thinner. Next I would get some of those 3M sanding sponges and sand down the total chair to knock off the gloss. Next I would blow off the chair with a vacuum and then wash the whole thing with TSP. Check again for any glossy spots and knock off with the sanding sponges if any found. I forgot to say you need to dry the chair as you go along so the water doesn't soak into the finish or wood. This is important.
Finally, I would go to an auto paint shop and buy some aerosol spray in the color and gloss that I want. Could be water based or oil based lacquer. Don't buy paint from a home store. Then I would mist on a light coat to see if the new paint is going to lift the old. Paint one leg with two or three coats of light mist and wait a couple of days to see if the new paint is compatable with the old. If it is, carry on.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 9:09PM
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