Thursday, May 17, 2012

Armchairs, Part One: Strip and Stain

So I've been planning on redoing our living room armchairs since we got them. I love the shape of these, but I really don't know anything about them. The brown vinyl is really not my thing though. It also has some nicks in the vinyl and odd black staining on the seat of one of the chairs. Initially I wanted to have them professionally reupholstered, but then we had some unexpected expenses (*cough*stupidmoneypitcar*cough*) and there went my chair upholstery fund.

Then I realized I could just paint them with vinyl spray paint. It would help fill in the nicked areas, since it contains actual vinyl particles in it. And it's way cheaper, at least for now. Except then my white vinyl spray paint was out of stock on Home Depot's website (the only place I could find it that wasn't ridiculously overpriced). Now it's discontinued. Seriously?

But I decided I didn't want to paint them white anyways. I think I want a light sandy beige, because I'm going for this natural sort of neutral thing in the living room now. Since vinyl spray paint is generally used for automotive and boat upholstery, it tends to come in a lot of shades of tan, so that should make it easier to find the particular shade I want.

Still haven't actually gotten the paint, but I had to strip and restain the arms first anyways. Which is really the point of this post. The arms were also not in the greatest shape: some mystery paint on the legs, along with a weird and obviously intentional pictogram thingy scratched onto the arm of one chair. And a somewhat garish orange tone that really didn't work well with the 70's drab brown vinyl.

So I stripped them, which didn't end up doing a whole lot, then sanded them down with a mouse sander using a medium grit then a fine grit sandpaper. This was definitely the most time consuming part, due to the serpentine shape of the wood. I actually really liked the bare wood, and if I were keeping the brown or going with a darker color for the upholstery, I would have simply treated it with some oil and been done with it.

Stripped and sanded
The rest was pretty straightforward. Treat with wood pre-conditioner (this is to help the wood stain evenly), allowing the wood to absorb for 5-15 minutes. Afterwards you are supposed to wipe off any excess with a rag, but the wood completely absorbed the two coats I put on.

After wood conditioner.
Then three coats of stain, wiping off any excess with a rag. If I want it darker, I can apply more stain. I used a roughly 1:1 ratio of Minwax Dark Walnut and English Chestnut. I thought it would have more of a red tone to it with the English Chestnut, but it really didn't seem to pick up much at all. That's okay though. I like how it looks.

And the grain really came out pretty lovely in some spots.