Refinish or am I just finished?
March 19, 2012 10:10 PM   Subscribe

Can this piece of furniture be refinished or painted over?

So I want this kitchen island, but I'd really prefer it in grey instead of white to match the rest of the room. I've never painted or refinished furniture, but am reasonably handy. Is this doable? Could I just paint over the white, or wood I need to take the finish off? I'd like this thing to be a plain satin grey without any wood grain visible. How should I go about this, or am I just asking for trouble?
posted by drpynchon to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
As long as you're not planning on painting the exposed wood part, then yes. Paint it with an oil based paint to cover your bases and everything will be okay.
posted by cmoj at 10:22 PM on March 19, 2012

This is a veneer over particle board. Paint won't stick well to the glossy finish and you won't be able to sand it down at all.

If it's something you haven't bought yet I'd save yourself the trouble. For that kind of money you should be able to find something that works
posted by Beacon Inbound at 10:25 PM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've found it a bit of a lottery refinishing furniture. Using oil-based paint usually means the finish won't chip easily, but it takes a long time to fully cure (sometimes weeks, depending on your weather), and you'll need to be able to keep it somewhere dry and clean (without dust settling) at least for the first few days. Non-oil-based paints can chip easily and look not so great. You can polyurethane on top, but I find it hard to get that looking smooth and professional. If you're the handy sort you might have more luck than me, but while I'm happy to experiment on thrift-store furniture, I wouldn't risk it on something I'd just paid that much for new.

And on preview: if it's wood veneer, you may be able to sand it, but you'll have to be extremely careful not to sand right through to the particle board (I ruined a coffee table that way). That means light hand sanding only - just enough to make the paint "grip". Or use a spray primer that is designed to go straight on glossy pre-finished stuff. But your final finish may still chip more than it would otherwise.
posted by lollusc at 10:28 PM on March 19, 2012

I think you should start with a search for something similar in the color and price range you want.

If that doesn't work, I would call and see if there is any chance they have a scrap or a piece of the same thing -- why not, worth a short -- and then you can test painting it. I don't know that company, but maybe they even have an unpainted version ready to go -- I doubt it, but again, it's worth a shot.

If you decide to get it, consider if you would be happy with just painting parts of it. For example, just the top drawers and legs, or a few parts in gray, in order to save a lot of time or a botch job. And consider hiring someone to do it for you if they have a spray booth nearby.

And finally, since this comes in pieces -- paint everything before you put it together. Be methodical. Test in an area you can hide. Let things dry. Don't rush.

Also factor this in: if there is something out there that is similar, but only a bit more money, you may want to consider how much you value your time as the project may take a while to do well.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 10:41 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can paint it with no problem. Lightly sand it, just enough to scuff the paint, then prime it and paint it.
posted by lee at 10:44 PM on March 19, 2012

If you read the description, it says this is wood veneer - think of that as "wallpaper made of wood" - cuz that's just about what it is. This is not sandable, the surface can not be stripped.

That said, you could tape and protect the metal, rough up the slick surface with 400 or 600 grit sandpaper, and use a sprayer to apply a primer coat ant two top coats.

For that type of money, this isn't worth the hassle. If you find to used for like $100 or less, then go for it.

Your results will never look 100% professional or "factory perfect." I think you should not do this.
posted by jbenben at 10:45 PM on March 19, 2012

It's h ard to see what the actual finish is - whether its painted or melamine. If it's painted, a quick sand with fine sandpaper (no coarser than 400) and away you go. You shouldn't need a primer, but check on the tin of the paint you buy. If it's melamine, you can buy a special compound to 'key' the surface and then paint as normal (without sanding). Second painting it unassembled and I suggest that you only need to paint the sections that are always visible (ie not insides of drawers etc).

It's most likely not worth your time and the surface will not be as durable as the original finish, but it can certainly be done.
posted by dg at 11:14 PM on March 19, 2012

veneer over 'engineered wood' (read: cheap-ass particle board)? ...everyting about this ad screams 'overpriced piece of crap', no offence... this is a purchase you will regret...for that price you should totally be looking for solid hardwood construction (NOT pine)...kitchens get wet and steamy, you want something that will not warp or fall apart. also, stainless countertops can be really annoying (i prefer hardwood)...they scratch, show off every fingerprint, and will cool down anything you put on them...they do tend to be really useful for candy-making however...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:28 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

this is the island you are looking for...bit more expensive, but with this construction it should last several lifetimes.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:35 PM on March 19, 2012

It says it's painted veneer over MDF (medium density fiberboard, not particle board), but a lot of the construction details suggest that most of it is simply painted MDF. There might be a shred of veneer somewhere in there, but it's hard to see where, or even why. It's common for the people who write marketing copy for stuff like this to have a poor understanding of exactly what they're selling.

This is a poor-quality piece, and unlikely to last long enough to make it worth the extra labor of painting it.
posted by jon1270 at 2:38 AM on March 20, 2012

If you decide to paint, I recommend these instructions, which discuss the best primer to use when not sanding, what to use on laminate, and how to condition the paint for a smooth finish.
posted by vitabellosi at 3:16 AM on March 20, 2012

You can absolutely paint this with little heartache.

Vitabellosi has the perfect link, summarized as:

Zinsser primersauto prep & stick to shiny, finished surfaces.

Paint the color you want, floetrol to reduce brush marks to invisible.

Finish with Polyverathane.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 5:17 AM on March 20, 2012

Response by poster: Hmm. Some conflicting responses. I know this thing is overpriced, and figured the cheap materials/veneer issue would be a problem. Unfortunately, pre-made modern style islands with stainless steel tops in gray appear to be relatively non-existent (the closest thing I'd found already was what This_Will_Be_Good linked to). The only alternative I've found is to have one custom made, which is going to cost me considerably more. I'll see if I can get a sample piece, and certainly if I do this I would be testing on the underside first, then painting only visible surfaces prior to putting it together. Agree that the cost is also high relatively to the risk of getting a sub-standard result. Argh.
posted by drpynchon at 6:55 AM on March 20, 2012

Could you go to a local metal shop and ask them to make you a shallow pan out of zinc that you could flip over and use to cover the top surface?
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 12:52 PM on March 20, 2012

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