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First "proper" furniture job - specification advice please

Hi, I’ve recently been to quote a customer with a beautifully decorated house, for a few rooms, now she’s come back and asked how much to paint a double wardrobe, chest of drawers and two bedside cabinets in white.

I’ve said depending on the darkness of the wood, 2-3 days, as likely to be a four coat minimum.

In the meantime, I’d like to sort my spec out, as there’s a fair chance she’ll use me. If it was just me with what I have now, I would sand thoroughly with 240, tack rag and meths wipe. Two coats of Zinsser shellac based (as I could do two
Coats in one day) then Dulux Diamond Satinwood (with Floetrol) 2-3 coats on top, sanding with 240 in between. I have Axus lime rollers and Purdy Pro Extra and Monarch Elite brushes. I’m also minded to buy a fine mister to help with the tipping off.

I know this is rough, though I’d get acceptable results. But anything else I should be thinking of?

Tikkurila Feelings paint? Royal Langmickel tipping off brush? Finer sanding paper?

Also wondering whether a meths wipe would be enough to take off any silicone polish (and let’s assume it’s had some at some point)?

Really like to up my game a bit here, as this is the kind of customer that would want this, just a bit nervous about it.

Grateful for any advice offered.

Nothing too much to add to your approach. It is not about upping your game a bit, though, without getting too zen, furniture painting is a different mindset.

It goes without saying that you make sure you are thoroughly masked up, dust-free sanding, super brush skills, treat their home with kid gloves, explain what you are going to do. You also need to be ready and able to go over the same surfaces twice as many times as you normally would.

But beyond the nuts and bolts of painting, you also need to put yourself in the position of a client entrusting you with hundreds / thousands of pounds worth of furniture, or kitchens worth 6 figures. Many technically good decorators who get a piece of furniture to paint, do not “get” the value of what they are being asked to do, viewing these occasional projects as just some more wood to paint, but for a juicy premium.

Furniture and kitchens aren’t just another bit of bare wood or a problematic coating to the homeowner. It is often their pride and joy, it isn’t just another painting and decorating job to them.

This is feedback from real clients who have invested a lot of their money in various projects. Of course they want a lovely finish, but they want quite a bit more than that, and as a decorator who really wants to up their game, you should get a handle on this “other” side.

Thanks Andy. You’ve hit the nail on the head there, especially with regard to time allowed for the extra care needed. I’m often a bit paranoid that customers think my quotes are a bit heavy on the time side. Do you think 2-3 days for those pieces of furniture is reasonable? I’d be thinking nearer 3 as well, assuming a four coat minimum.

A customer asked me last week what the hardest part of my job was. In retrospect, I’d have answered, “Pricing…”.

Assuming this is nice furniture, then (it’s light oak apparently) should I buy some Tikkurila Feelings or stick to Dulux Diamond Satinwood over Zinsser BIN? Only real reason I ask is I did a varnished handrail recently in BIN and Dulux and noticed some chipping at each end (and I was pretty strict with my prep).

If I bought the Tikkurila, can I put it straight over BIN or do I need their primer too?

BIN plus Feelings undercoat plus topcoats

Thanks Andy.

Just one last thing :wink:

Better to do a couple of undercoats with Feelings, then one topcoat, rather than other way around? Or is there not much difference?

Tikkurila seem to have developed a super modern paint system that relies on age old trade practice - undercoat to get the base colour solid, topcoats for protection. So can you foresee the difference in end result if you reduce topcoats by one to compensate for your time spent on an “extra” basecoat?

Water borne lacquers aren’t big on coverage. Customers aren’t big on having solid basecoats and a oncer waterborne topcoat :slight_smile:

Oil eggshell is self undercoating so not unusual to apply 3 “topcoats” over a primer.

Hi Andy sorry I’ve taken a few days to reply. I’ll probably sound a bit thick here, but if I was using Tikkurila you’re saying don’t swap a topcoat for a basecoat, but do two of each?

Here’s how I’m thinking: I’ve told my customer 2-3 days for a double wardrobe, chest of drawers and two bedside cabinets. And while I really meant three, I’m now wondering if even that’s enough! As Tikkurila is one coat per day stuff (think I have that right) I’d be better off trying to do two Zinssers for coverage to take advantage of the drying time, then two undercoats, then two topcoats.

I know it sounds crazy, but I can’t help feeling that if I told my customer four days (or more) to paint four pieces of furniture she’d think I was trying to pull the wool over. But actually, I just want to do a good job without feeling rushed. Having said that, I’ve never actually tried putting Zinsser on with a roller…

Feelings Primer

Drying Time (Touch Dry) 1 hour
Drying Time (Recoat) 2-5 hours
Application Method Brush, Roller
Finish Matt
Smooth Coverage (m2 / litre) 6-8
Type Single Pack
Waterbased Yes

Or if concerned, why not go for shellac basecoat and two coats of oil eggshell, 2 days. or 3rd eggshell, 3 days.

I dont know how long it will take you to go round each coat, so you have to assess if up to 2 coats per day is feasible for you.


Why not do 2 coats off the zinsser oil based. Sticks like mad and 2 top coats oil based or feeling water based, also otex is a fantastic product. As a base coat I like the otex great covering power and levels out But you have to leave over night. Why don’t u charge customer 4 days and just ask if she wants anything else doing if you have finished early

Thanks for all advice. Saw customer yesterday, and she’s changed her mind about painting furniture! Typical. Still, at least info is here if she changes it back again.

Log it away in the database. :slight_smile: