Paint vs. Stain: The Outcome

As anticipated, the weather was absolutely glorious and sunshine-y all weekend, leaving me fresh out of excuses to schlep the little side table from this post outside to sand the bejesus out of it. I should preface this entire post with the disclaimer that aside from one other table and a few rooms, I am by no means a skilled painter. In fact, I’ve never sanded or primed anything in my life. However, looking at the grossness of the table, I knew sanding wasn’t up for debate. It had to be done, lest I live forever with scratches of “CK” etched into the front of it (Calvin Klein? Crack Kills?). Someone was kind enough to leave me a wad of chewed gum on the front, too. Yummy!

First, a quick trip to Home Depot was in order. I picked up a sample can of Behr’s “Fountain Spout”, a mini paint tray, and a 6-pack of 100 grit sandpaper. Total cost: $8.70. Bonus, I ran into a kid I went to middle school with that I hadn’t seen since in the paint department (hi, Vance!). Don’t ask me how I settled upon this particular paint color. I had Behr’s “Monet Lily” in mind, but it turned out to be too lavender-y in person (weirdly), and this one jumped out at me while I was standing there.

My sand-paper-virginity became apparent as I was standing in the aisle looking at all of the various types and sizes and grits of sandpaper, my mouth agape. What is the difference between 80 grit and 100? Why are some sheets the size of 8.5″ x 11″ paper and some are little sponges? I know I was standing in a home improvement store, surrounded by knowledgable staff who could have easily answered my questions and pointed me to the right product for this undertaking. Instead, I grabbed the first pack I saw that said “Wood” on it and called it a day.

After giving it a good, quick cleaning with a few wet rags, I got ready to sand. I figured I would just hold the sandpaper in my hand and scrub away at the guh-ross yellow/orange stain and various scratches and indiscriminate globs of junk. Little did I know this would have been much more easily accomplished if I had bothered to read the back of the package in the store; I would have seen that I needed a hand-sander. You know, an actual machine that would do this for me. Sigh.

saying goodbye to the gum…

Oh, so halfway through I realized how flimsy the top rail was on the back of the desk. It was stuck on with two nails, and had an accumulation of gunk and crud in it that I was never going to be able to sand or clean properly if I didn’t just take the whole thing off. So I did. I don’t regret it at all.


see all that dirt? Yuck.

I used all 6 pieces of sandpaper, whether due to my own incompetence  with the process of sanding or  because this thing had about 12 layers of mismatched varnish and dirt on it. I wiped it down with some more wet rags before bringing it back in. And let me tell you, the stuff that came off on those rags was disgusting. And yellow. Getting as up close and personal with this guy as I did made me realize it wasn’t as “cute” as I originally thought, and the lingering guilt I had over not staining it a rich, dark brown and restoring it to its original glory was quickly dispelled when I realized that this thing never had any original glory. Fug Since Day 1.

Now, I know the smart, fume-conscious choice would have been to keep the thing outside and prime and paint it in the open air, but I live on a main street, and I didn’t feel like squatting in awkward positions in my oversized painting-designated-t-shirt and gym shorts will wielding a paintbrush. Believe it or not, I do have some dignity left. I also tend to talk to myself while painting or working on a project (or just like, sitting there) and didn’t want to scare the neighbors.

I found this can of primer in my storage unit in my building. I know it’s mine, that I didn’t steal it from a neighbor, but I can’t tell you why I have it, especially since at the beginning of this post I swore I’d never primed anything. It’s a mystery! I slathered on 2 coats of primer, waiting an hour in between coats to let it dry fully. I can follow some directions! Plus I had to stop and have a bowl of corn flakes.

first coat of primer

Despite the primer claiming it was a primer and sealer in one, I was worried that the yellow-ish tint of the wood was still showing through even after the first coat of primer was on. The second coat, however, really covered everything nicely.

After this coat I was able to really notice how ugly and un-help-able the knob on the little drawer was (no picture, because again, the grossness). While I waited for the second coat of primer to dry so I could begin the fun part (I know it’s basically the same premise, painting primer and painting paint, but I don’t consider priming “fun”), I walked over to Anthropologie (swoon!) to pick up one of these little glass knobs. Obviously I could have found something cheaper than this one, which was almost the same price as all of the supplies I bought at Home Depot combined. But then, this would be someone else’s blog, and I don’t know if you’ve picked up on this yet, but if I like it, it doesn’t matter how impractically priced it is. I will buy it.

first coat of “Fountain Spout”

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t all that thrilled with the color as I was applying the first coat. I know I chose it for how icy and pale a shade of blue it was, but it just seemed too pale, too white. But after a second coat, and some last minute hole filling (someone had made some pretty impressive pencil-sized holes on one edge of the desk), drumroll please….

And of course, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to decorate it a little bit:

And there you have it! I’m really, really pleased with the final result. All in all, it took 5 hours of painting and waiting for paint to dry. Here’s the budget breakdown, if you’re curious:

Desk: $10, Craigslist
Paint & supplies: $8.70, Home Depot
Glass knob, $8, Anthropologie

Total: $26.70 and totally worth it.

This was probably the most productive weekend I’ve had in a while, and now I have the project-bug: I want to tackle as many things as I can! This is also the longest post I’ve ever had. That’s what she said.

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