What is UP my friends and fellow busybees. I hope you are doing well and if you’re in Canada and listening to this when it first airs, I hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving weekend filled with some great people surrounding you, and obviously some great food, too. Also, pumpkin pie. You gotta have pumpkin pie, with like, WAY too much whipped cream on it. There’s no other way.
I actually just got back from a great trip out west with my husband, we went to Vancouver, BC for a few days and then did an Alaskan cruise which was INCREDIBLE. If you are someone who has ever expressed interest in taking one but didn’t know if it was worth it, this is me telling you that you absolutely need to do it. And do it sooner than later- the glaciers will likely never be as big as they are now in our lifetimes. It was so gorgeous, and it was just absolutely wild to know that that kind of beauty exists on the same ground that I walk on every day. This world is crazy. Anyways, I’ve been travelling since I was young and this was the first cruise I’ve ever done and I totally have the itch for more, so if you have any recommendations please feel free to send me a DM on Instagram @MelDidItHerself or send me an email at Mel@MelDidItHerself.ca.
So after being able to relax and rejuvenate and indulge in so much food and drink and being waited on hand and foot, I came back home so invigorated and ready to serve YOU. And because I always want to give you the best tips and tricks to save you time, energy and money on your furniture flips, today I thought we could go through 6 products that will help your furniture makeovers go more smoothly from my trial and error-tested experience.
You can certainly perform a great furniture transformation without the use of any of these, so don’t ever feel the need to get them, but if you ever find yourself running into some of the problems that I’ll discuss, then these are some of the things that might help you out to save that time, effort and frustration. I will be linking all of the products in the episode show notes so if you are interested in checking any of them out for yourself, feel free to click through to see them in all their glory.
Okay first up is painting pyramids. They’re inexpensive, nothing too complex, but they serve their purpose and I use them constantly. Essentially, they are little plastic pyramids that you get, you buy them in a pack of like 10, and you use them to elevate your pieces off of the floor when refinishing them. Elevating the piece is key because there have been times when I was newer to furniture flipping where I would just work on pieces while they were sitting on the garage floor, and this poses a couple of issues.
First, if you’re painting, you’re more than likely going to end up with paint on the floor as you try and get right down to the very bottom of the base of the piece. Second, if you are painting and trying to get that very bottom of the base, in addition to getting the paint on the floor, if there’s any dust or dirt or anything else on the floor, chances are you’re going to snag that with your paintbrush and it will either end up in the finish on your piece, or back in the paint when you go to put some more product on your brush. Either way, that means added texture and it will impact the quality and durability of your finish. And third, if you don’t elevate the piece and you’re sanding the piece, chances are you will end up with a bit of finish left on the bottom that you missed because you just won’t be able to get your sander close enough to the ground to be able to get it all.
You can use things like paint cans or, if you’re lazy like me, you might be doing the foot trick where you slide your foot underneath and flex it as needed to elevate the piece off of the floor… and now, I’m no doctor, but I do know that the bones in our feet are pretty small and delicate so I can only assume that this approach isn’t highly recommended, by doctors at least. So these pyramids do the trick! They’re about $15 so not a huge financial investment, but they’re just handy to have. And they are a great stocking stuffer, so take note and maybe add that to your wishlist if you celebrate Christmas. If you have a furniture artist in your life, this is also a great, inexpensive but thoughtful gift that you could grab for them for any occasion and I guarantee they will get some good use out of them.
The second product that is going to help your upcycled furniture project go much more quickly and easily is getting some sanding foam pads (U.S. link or Canadian link). These are essentially pieces of sandpaper that stick to your electric sander that are attached to foam so that instead of your sander blowing through and sanding edges down flat, the foam will fit the grooves and contour to the shape of the edge or the piece that you’re sanding and will sand around it, rather than sand it away. I cannot begin to explain how much time and effort these have saved me over the years. They have saved countless hours of hand sanding, so my achy hands and barely-hanging on there fingerprints really appreciated the opportunity to rest when I discovered these.
I have a SurfPrep 3x4 Electric Ray sander so I get the Surf Prep foam pads for my sander- I have seen other brands offer similar foam pads, and I’ve also seen people use the Surf Prep foam pads on non-Surf Prep sanders. So whatever works! But I highly recommend trying them out. What I find it particularly quick and handy for is when you get those pieces that have these super ornate carvings and you want to paint the piece, but you know that hand sanding those details will be a total pain in order to get them scuff sanded… foam sanding pads to the rescue!
Okay, so let’s talk tape. Painter’s tape is great for taping off edges that you don’t want to get paint on, whether it be to block off the inside of drawers or taping off hardware that you can’t remove on a piece and want to protect. But have you ever tried to paint a geometric design on a piece using painter’s tape?
There’s hacks to getting a crisp line like adding a coat of poly after you put the tape down and a couple of other suggestions I’ve come across, but let me tell you what product will save you the time and effort of having to do that: Frog Tape. Don’t ask me how, don’t ask me why, I don’t know what they do differently but it’s always a much firmer grip to the piece than your average painter’s tape and you get an immaculately crisp line every time. 100% worth paying the extra couple bucks in my opinion.
The fourth product that I wanted to mention won’t necessarily save you any time or effort probably, but if you are already providing this if you have a furniture painting and refinishing business, then it could potentially save you money. If nothing else, it is definitely a great, thoughtful touch to add into your repertoire. If you aren’t already providing your clients with some extra paint for their painted pieces that they purchase from you, I highly recommend– in case they happen to ding the piece on the way home or something happens to it longer-term and they require a touch up, or if maybe they wanted to either colour match the shade or maybe even paint some little décor pieces in the same colour to coordinate the room better.. Maybe they wouldn’t do that, I don’t know, but I think it’s a nice touch!
In order to provide this, though, you want to make sure that it’s in a package or container that is airtight so that it doesn’t dry out, but also so that it doesn’t leak. For this, I have come across two different options, both super affordable because they’re from Dollarama. For anyone not in Canada, Dollarama is our local dollar store, so I’m sure you can find something similar in your area. The first thing I found and loved for this use, which is now out of stock or maybe just not available at my local Dollarama, was little plastic sauce containers that you would normally get something like aioli or ketchup in with your takeout food. They didn’t leak, they were pretty compact, and I think it came with like a pack of at least 10 or more for like $1.25. So perfect.
Now, since I haven’t been able to find them again since I ran out and had to go searching, I have switched to another great alternative: little plastic paint pots that you find in the art aisle of the dollar store. There’s a smaller and a bigger size available, I think you get 6 or 8 of them for like $1.25 for the bigger ones and there’s probably about 12-16 of the smaller size in a pack for the same price. They actually hold a surprising amount of paint, so it’s a great bang for your buck. I try to have both sizes on hand so that I have the option of which one to use, and I’ll fill a smaller one for smaller pieces I sell like a side table, shelf, or other smaller piece and give the bigger ones for larger pieces like big dressers.
The next item that is going to help make your furniture makeovers go much more smoothly and save you time and hassle is adding a hard bristle brush of some kind to your toolkit. Again, this can be something as inexpensive and straightforward as something you get from the dollar store for a couple bucks, but it is very useful to have on hand when needed. Most commonly, I like to use this for pieces that have a lot more ornate and intricate details and carvings and things like that because the harder bristles can get in there and clean them out well, much better than if you were just using a microfiber cloth or anything like that. Even cheaper than a dollar store brush, another option is also to use an old hard toothbrush instead, just as long as the bristles aren’t yet worn down.
The last product that I can attest will absolutely save you time, effort, frustration, and a workout, is SaranWrap or plastic wrap of any kind. Sounds strange, but can you guess what I use it for? If you guessed for stripping paint, you would be absolutely correct. If you have ever attempted to use paint stripper and have left it for the recommended amount of time, came back to it, and found that you still had to fight tooth and nail to get basically any of the finish off, and you think that that’s how it is supposed to go… I’m here to tell you that it can be much, much easier than that.
What can happen, depending on what product you’re using and what weather conditions you’re working in (whether it’s cooler, more humid, or perhaps in direct sunlight, which by the way, it probably shouldn’t be), this can all play a factor in whether or not A) your paint stripper completely dries while on your piece and is supposed to be pulling up the finish and B) whether or not it performs its intended function of actually stripping it back.
What plastic wrap or SaranWrap can do is to provide a barrier between the product and the air, so that it locks in that moisture and lets it do its thing without risking it drying out, or at least drying out too quickly. I typically like to keep my paint stripper on a little longer than the recommended time as well because I find that when I do that, it just does some more of the work for me, so this is super helpful when I do that as well. Basically all you need to do is apply the paint stripper to the piece as usual, then grab a big piece of the SaranWrap, I like to try and cover the piece all in one long sheet if possible, and just lay it down as flat as you can over the stripper.
Then just gently pat it down to ensure that it is pushing the product into the piece, and the product is evenly distributed along whatever surface you’re working on. Then just let it sit for the recommended time, or maybe extend it a bit if you’re feelin’ frisky like me, and then when you’re done, just carefully lift the plastic wrap off and the stripper should still be nice and moist (sorry for saying moist), and ready to easily lift up the remaining finish. Now, keep in mind that some projects will still be more finicky than others, so even with this hack, some elbow grease may be required, but I can assure you that it will be much easier than it otherwise would have been. Pinky promise.
And something you may not know about me… I love little motivational messages. They literally always get me fired up, and I keep a running list of ones that are especially catchy or speak to me in the Notes app on my phone. So I’m going to end every podcast episode with one of those that I have noted down over the years, in hopes that you leave our time here each week feeling inspired, motivated, and ready to take on whatever comes your way that week.
So this week’s Mel’s motivational message is: What you do not change, you choose.
Alright, that’s it for now, I appreciate your time, and I’ll catch you guys next week!